A coalition of celebrities headed up by the poorly trousered X factor judge and fizzy water loving Starlett have launched a single and ad campaign ‘Do they know it’s almost Chanukah?’, aimed at raising awareness and funds to aid the plight of devastated residents of the Gaza Strip. The group includes Sarah Silverman and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who like Johansson and Cowell both faced criticism for voicing their support for Israel while it massacred civilians over the summer.
While eyes are now on Jerusalem and Temple Mount, the residents of Gaza are still waiting for proper repairs to begin. Around 100,000 homes were destroyed in the Israeli onslaught over the summer, and UNRWA has registered concerns about the slow pace of reconstruction. At the beginning of November, over 2 months since the end of Operation Protective Edge, over 27,000 people were still housed in UNRWA schools and thousands more in temporary shelters, themselves in need of repairs. The restrictive ‘temporary reconstruction mechanism’ agreed in September means that most of the repair work taking place so far has been in the form of ‘self-help’ – by residents themselves acquiring materials through Israeli approved vendors, funded in part by ‘Traditional Shelter Cash Assistance’ from UNRWA. Still under siege and with the Israeli blockade making the transport of any larger supplies of construction materials slow progress, the situation is looking pretty hopeless for winter.
In their single, sung to the tune of ‘Greased lightning’, Johansson, Cowell and celebrity friends try to remind the world that what matters isn’t green lines on maps and who is wrong or right, but basic human needs – in this case ensuring that all people living under the rule of the Jewish state have access to blankets and donuts in time for Chanukah. Johansson said ‘While I support Israel’s right to defend itself and produce really tasty soda, I am still concerned about the plight of Gaza. Liking bubbles in my water doesn’t mean I don’t care.’
The campaign has received support from Peace Now and the Israeli Meretz party. They have also been joined by UK Board of Deputies BFF-org ‘We Believe in Israel’, who hope that it will aid them in their petition to ‘end Palestinian hate education and indoctrination’ . Director and Judaeophile Luke Akehurst said ‘I have loved Jews and Israel ever since I ate a latke.’
Support in the UK has also come from Maureen Lipman, who has refused to sing but has pledged the money she will no longer be giving to the Labour Party. She explained that whilst criticising Israel’s destruction of the strip is indisputably anti-semitic, as much as possible should be done to help civilians to rebuild once Israel has decided which ones were innocent. Ed Miliband was also asked to take part, but declined saying he doesn’t know when Chanukah is either. Julie Burchill appears briefly in the music video playing the triangle, because she stormed the recording studio drunk and refused to leave.
Despite what Cowell called ‘a promising start’, the campaign has so far gone the opposite of well. Commentators and activists from the left and right have rushed to express their disgust, and pretty much everyone who isn’t directly involved in the campaign has said that it completely misses the point. Ewan McGregor in his Oxfam voice said ‘If you give a man a fish when he lives in an open air prison and has just seen his home destroyed and thousands of his friends killed, he is unlikely to give a shit. If you teach him to fish, it basically means fuck all because Israel controls Gaza’s waters.’
Simon Cowell, who donated $150,000 to the IDF in 2013, has been told to shut up and go home. In the words of pretty much everyone: even giving that money to Gaza now would not be enough.
The single and ad campaign, released for just over 24 hours, have now been taken off air. The initial flotilla of 100,000 dradles has not yet passed through Israeli security, it is expected to reach Gaza sometime before Chanukah 2015.