February 25, 2024

A series of videos featuring major Hollywood stars reading excerpts from South Africa’s historic case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has gone viral on social media. Published by the UK-based Palestine Festival of Literature, the clips showcase renowned actors such as Susan Sarandon, Cynthia Nixon, and Game of Thrones stars Liam Cunningham, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey, reading key sections from South Africa’s 84-page dossier.

South Africa is accusing Israel of committing genocide through indiscriminate attacks, making life in Gaza untenable, and is appealing for an emergency order demanding Israel to cease fire. The series includes performances by actors like Khalid Abdalla and Tobias Menzies from The Crown, Paapa Essiedu from I May Destroy You, Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development, Steve Coogan, and Palestinian actor Adam Bakri, known for his role in the Oscar-nominated film Omar.

Shared individually on social media platforms, many of these clips have garnered millions of views. Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon is one of Hollywood’s most high-profile voices consistently advocating for the Palestinian cause. She made headlines when her agency, UTA, dropped her after comments made at a pro-Palestine rally in New York in November.

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In a separate video from December, Succession star Brian Cox, featured in another production by the Palestinian Festival of Literature, performed a reading of Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer’s “If I Must Die.” Alareer tragically lost his life in an Israeli strike on Gaza on December 7.

At the ICJ hearing on Thursday, South Africa urged judges to intervene urgently, asserting that Israel’s violent campaign against Palestinians extends beyond an anti-Hamas manhunt. Drawing parallels with its own history, South Africa characterized the situation as an extension of 75 years of apartheid against Palestinians.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola stated, “No armed attacks on a state’s territory – no matter how serious, even an attack involving atrocity crimes – can provide a justification for or defense for acts of genocide.” He argued that Israel’s response to the October 7, 2023, attack had crossed this line.

Israel has vehemently rejected the allegations, vowing to continue its offensive. During Friday’s proceedings, Israeli lawyers argued that a court order to cease the bombardment of Gaza would deprive Israel of its right to self-defense.

The ICJ judges, numbering 17, are expected to make a decision within weeks on whether to grant the emergency ruling sought by South Africa. While the court lacks enforcement power, its decision could exert international pressure on Israel to alter its course. With more than 23,000 Palestinians killed since the military campaign in Gaza began in October, the case remains a focal point for global attention.

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