Vanessa Redgrave, a veteran actress and human rights activist was last night awarded the Orange British Academy Film Award at London’s Royal Opera House. Well known for her lifelong commitment to civil rights, and in particular, for speaking out against the oppressive and racist Israeli regime, Redgrave became politicised at the age of eight when she learned of the Nazi death camps, and has since been campaigning tirelessly for peace and justice. She was a member of the Worker’s Revolutionary Party, and later on in life became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Redgrave’s support for Palestinian self-determination led her, in 1978, to produce and narrate a documentary film on the Palestinian people and the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (“The Palestinian”). She was heavily criticised by Israeli groups, and to this day, is sometimes referred to as the “Jew-hater”. Vanessa could not have responded to these criticisms in a more efficient way. That same year she starred in the film “Julia”, and played the role of a Jewish woman who was murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-fascist activism. Redgrave’s decision to take on board both these projects is admirable in the sense that, both movies highlight the brutality of fascist regimes. She successfully managed to parallel Israel’s brutal actions when it came to demolishing housing with the acts of the Nazis at a time when discourse on Palestine in the West was very much lead by Zionist groups and one could not freely talk about Palestine. Indeed, two wrongs do not make a right.
Redgrave recently made an appeal to the international community to increase its emergency assistance to Palestinians suffering in the occupied Palestinian territory and called on the Government of Israel to end the siege on Gaza. Once again, Redgrave has not only taken a strong stance against Israel for its collective punishment of the Palestinian people, but she has also often referred to this siege as “ironic”, since many Jews died during the 900 day siege of Leningrad in 1941-1944.
Vanessa Redgrave’s career and activism is a symbol of how films, music and art, can change the narratives on Palestine. By reaching out to an audience which would not otherwise be normally acquainted with the Palestinian perspective of the conflict, this cultural uprising portrays for them the reality of Israel’s occupation. The Middle East Monitor would like to commend Vanessa Redgrave’s efforts for her enduring struggle.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.