Over 10,000 individuals — many of them prominent figures from British culture — have signed a letter condemning the atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7 and demanding the immediate release of the more than 200 civilians still being held hostage.
Among those who have signed the letter, titled the October Declaration, are “The Lion King” lyricist Tim Rice, playwright Tom Stoppard, “The Pianist” actor Maureen Lipman, “Doctor Who” actor Tracy Ann Oberman and “Dreamland” actor Frances Barber.
“On 7 October 2023 the State of Israel and her citizens, both Jews and non-Jews, were subjected to a brutal terrorist attack, which resulted in the murder, torture, rape and kidnapping of over 1,500 people,” the letter states. “More Jews were killed on that day than on any other day since the Holocaust. We are aware that Jews are not the only victims of this tragedy. Hamas knew that there would be consequences to 7 October, but the consequences did not weigh with Hamas.”
The letter goes on to say: “We call for all the hostages taken on 7 October to be released immediately. It is an essential step on the path to peace and the cessation of hostilities.”
More than 2000 people were murdered by Hamas during the massacre two weeks ago, including children, senior citizens and in some cases entire families. At least 200 victims are still being held hostage in Gaza. Their ages range from 9 months old to people in their 80s and represent a number of nationalities as well as Israeli, including American, British, French and Thai. Israel is currently preparing a ground assault to try and retrieve the hostages and end Hamas’s reign of terror in Gaza and throughout the region.
Other signatories to the letter include historian Tom Holland, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali and literary agent Neil Blair and women’s right campaigner (and inspiration for “Absolutely Fabulous” character Edina) Lynne Franks. Screenwriter Nicholas Martin, who wrote the recently-released movie “Golda,” starring Helen Mirren as the formidable Israeli Prime Minister, also signed the declaration.
The October Declaration comes on the heels of another letter, organized by Artists for Palestine U.K., signed by a number of British celebrities including actors Tilda Swinton, Charles Dance and Maxine Peake and comedian Steve Coogan which condemned Israel and failed to make any mention of Hamas’s action in Israels or express sympathy for those murdered.
At least one signatory to the Artists for Palestine U.K. letter, “Outlander” star Sam Heughan, has since retracted their signature. Heughan posted to Twitter: “I inadvertently signed something that does not reflect my beliefs. I believed it was a simple call for PEACE… it wasn’t.”
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