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Did George Clooney boycott Israel?

December 10, 2021 at 1:00 pm

George and Amal Clooney at The Royal Festival Hall in London, UK on 10 October 2021 [John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI]

Hollywood heartthrob, actor and director George Clooney said he turned down $35 million to advertise a commercial airline because the country “although it’s an ally, is questionable at times”, he told the Guardian in an interview.

“I was offered $35m for one day’s work for an airline commercial, but I talked to Amal [Clooney, the human rights lawyer he married in 2014] about it and we decided it’s not worth it. It was [associated with] a country that, although it’s an ally, is questionable at times, and so I thought: ‘Well, if it takes a minute’s sleep away from me, it’s not worth it.’,” Clooney said, without giving details of exactly which country he was referring to.

The comments sent social media users into a frenzy with many speculating if he was referencing Israel, Turkey or the UAE.

Both Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman have fronted advertising campaigns for UAE airlines Emirates and Etihad respectively.

While fellow Hollywood celebrities Morgan Freeman and Kevin Costner and sports superstars Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi led popular campaigns for Turkish Airlines.

A human rights lawyer of Lebanese origin, Amal Clooney will be well aware of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and the atrocities it commits there, as it has done in her native Lebanon over decades.

She has, however, previously refused a UN offer to investigate possible war crimes in Gaza in 2014.

READ: Israel faces no delegitimisation threats

In a statement she said: “I am horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused, and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed.”

“I am honoured to have received the offer, but given existing commitments – including eight ongoing cases – unfortunately could not accept this role.”

Both the UAE and Turkey have had their human rights record brought into question as a result of the arrest of human rights campaigners and the lack of freedom of expression.