Inna Vernikov, left; Penelope Cruz, right / Courtesy of the author; Instagram
You are a remarkable actress and a strikingly beautiful model. I have been following your successful career for years. Your performance in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” was an inspiring work of art. In fact, I am often complimented on just how much I look like you.
That being said, your sudden urge to comment on the centuries-long Middle East conflict has left me dumbfounded. Even more so, however, the contents of your uncalled-for outburst.
In the letter you recently signed, you unequivocally denounced the state of Israel for committing acts of “genocide” on the civilians of Gaza and demanded that Israel cease its fire. “Palestinians’ homes are being destroyed; they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools, and fields while the international community does nothing.”
My dear Penelope. When you accuse Israel of committing “genocide,” do you actually know what you are talking about? Are you informed and educated on the legality of actions of a country under attack? Before you accuse Israel of committing crimes, let me school you on the definitions of the words you are throwing around so freely.
Genocide is “the deliberate killing of people who belong to a particular racial, political, or cultural group.” Under international law, a crime is committed if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (called the principle of distinction). “International humanitarian law and the Rome statute permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur,” stated former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
While you are correct that the Palestinian people of Gaza are under siege and are being denied basic rights to freedom, movement, education, and life, those rights are denied to them by their own government, which they selected for themselves. Hamas is a designated terrorist organization and its charter seeks the annihilation of the Jewish people and the West.
You see, gorgeous, Hamas hides their rockets in schools, hospitals, and civilian territories where innocent little children play and where the sick are suffering. It then launches those rockets directly into Israel’s homes and populated areas, specifically targeting civilians. Israel is a tiny country, merely a dot on the world map, and yet it is the only democracy in the Middle East. In a desperate attempt to defend themselves from a monstrous enemy, Israel targets Hamas’ military arsenals, the very same locations where Hamas places their women and children. When these children unfortunately die, Israel is blamed by geniuses like you. But who is really committing genocide? And where in the world is your outrage against Hamas?
You are simply parroting what some ignorant politician said on TV when you speak of a conflict you know nothing about. I am no longer your fan. Although we might look alike, you and I are nothing alike. While you stand for lies, I stand for truth, justice, peace, and freedom. And that’s why I stand with Israel. Rest assured that neither I nor my people will sit idly by while Hamas is throwing rockets at Israeli civilians, and while you and your Hollywood buddies are slandering my homeland. So do the world a favor, and think before you speak. And if you can’t do that, just stick to your day job.
Inna Vernikov is an attorney in New York City.