During Israel visit, Michael Douglas says pro-Palestine US college protesters 'brainwashed'

During Israel visit, Michael Douglas says pro-Palestine US college protesters 'brainwashed'
US actor Michael Douglas met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on a visit to Jerusalem- where he criticised students protesting in support of Gaza
3 min read
06 June, 2024
US actor Michael Douglas (L) seated next to Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during Genesis Prize ceremony at The Jerusalem Theater on June 18, 2015 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images for Genesis Prize Foundation)

Hollywood actor Michael Douglas has slammed US college campus protesters campaigning for the end of Israel's ferocious and indiscriminate war on Gaza during a visit to Israel where he expressed solidarity with the government. 

During his meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his residence in Jerusalem on Sunday, Douglas took aim at the pro-Palestine student movement taking place across the US and worldwide. 

The veteran actor, who was presented with an Israeli dog tag necklace and a small pin of a yellow ribbon symbolising solidarity with captives still held by Hamas, said pro-Palestine protesters had succumbed to "brainwashing". 

"When you try to talk to many of them, there is no education. There’s no knowledge," he said. 

Douglas told Herzog that he felt a "big shock" about the growing campaign, where student activists have called for a ceasefire and the protection of civilian lives, as well as demanding universities divest from Israeli interests.  

He also recounted his "deep shock" during his visit earlier on Sunday to Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel which was hit hard in the October 7 attack. 

“It’s a very difficult time. You sense the deep shock of this whole experience,” Douglas said. 

"We’re just happy to be here in support of Israel and to share with you the fact that America is definitely your ally as our president has shared with you. I just hope that the latest negotiations will be reached, and the hostages will be back soon."

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Douglas has been a staunch supporter of Israel, having made several visits over the years and consistently advocated for Israel in his home country, the United States. 

He and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones hosted Israel’s Genesis Prize award ceremony in 2020, after Douglas himself was awarded the prize in 2015 for his contributions to Israel. 

Previous recipients also include former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, US singer and actress Barbara Streisand and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.  

Shortly after the outbreak of the war on Gaza last October, Douglas reiterated his pro-Israel stance by signing an open letter in support of Israel’s military conduct in Gaza. 

The actor joined the likes of celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Gal Gadot. 

Israel's indiscriminate war on Gaza has killed at least 36,654 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and wounded more than 83,000. On Tuesday an Israeli airstrike on a school in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza killed at least 40 people.

Other well-known entertainers, from Jennifer Lopez to Drake, have supported the Artists4Ceasefire movement- which has campaigned for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza together with urgent humanitarian aid and the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails.

Israel has routinely launched airstrikes targeting all parts of Gaza since the start of the war and has carried out massive ground operations in the territory’s two largest cities, Gaza City and Khan Younis, that have left them in ruins.

The Israeli army waged an offensive earlier this year for several weeks in Bureij and several other nearby refugee camps in central Gaza. 

Troops pulled out of the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza last Friday after weeks of fighting caused widespread destruction. First responders have recovered the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed during the attacks. 

Israel sent troops into Rafah in May in what it said was a limited incursion, but those forces are now operating in central parts of Gaza’s southernmost city.  

More than one million people have fled Rafah since the start of the operation, with many heading toward central Gaza. 

Agencies contributed to this report.