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Top actors make offensive comments about Israel-Hamas war, apologize under pressure

Emmy- and Oscar-winning actors have spoken about the war between Israel and Hamas, and in the process made some over-the-top, offensive statements before eventually backtracking.

Celebrities have a whole lot to say about the war between Israel and Hamas.

Unfortunately, some of it is offensive. Unfortunately, some of it is flat wrong. Unfortunately, some of it is just plain dumb.

Maybe they should think twice before spouting off.

It goes without saying that they have every right to share their opinions, even misinformed opinions. Some are activists who have championed certain issues for years. Others are dilettantes just looking for a little online applause. 

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It’s up to the public — including their fans — to discern the difference. 

Julianna Margulies, the Emmy Award-winning actress, was speaking on a podcast when she went way over the top.

The star of "The Good Wife," who is Jewish, said "the fact that the entire Black community isn’t standing with us, to me, says either they just don’t know or they’ve been brainwashed to hate Jews." 

Brainwashed?

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She also said that gays "will be the first people beheaded and their heads played like a soccer ball on the field" in areas run by Hamas and other Islamic regimes.

Oh, and as someone "who plays a lesbian journalist on ‘The Morning Show.’ I am more offended by it as a lesbian than I am as a Jew, to be honest with you."

The backlash was immediate.

And the apology came quickly.

"I am horrified by the fact that statements I made on a recent podcast offended the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities, communities I truly love and respect. I want to be 100% clear: Racism, homophobia, sexism, or any prejudice against anyone’s personal beliefs or identity are abhorrent to me, full stop." 

She added: "Throughout my career I have worked tirelessly to combat hate of all kind, end antisemitism, speak out against terrorist groups like Hamas, and forge a united front against discrimination. I did not intend for my words to sow further division, for which I am sincerely apologetic."

Now that is a full-throated apology. Not one of those wimpy, "I regret if anyone chooses to be offended." 

I like Margulies’ work, but this was a self-inflicted wound.

Last month, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon also went too far.

She declared at a pro-Palestinian rally that those who now fear being Jewish are "getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence."

Though the fallout was swift and United Talent Agency immediately dropped her as a client, two weeks went by before Sarandon felt the need to backtrack.

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"This phrasing was a terrible mistake," she said, "as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution, when the opposite is true."

Sarandon added: "As we all know, from centuries of oppression and genocide in Europe, to the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania … I deeply regret diminishing this reality and hurting people with this comment. It was my intent to show solidarity in the struggle against bigotry of all kinds, and I am sorry I failed to do so."

This, too, seems like a heartfelt apology. But I have to ask: What took her so long? Was she worried about further damage to her career?

Again, I like Sarandon as an actress, from "Thelma and Louise" to "Bull Durham," and she’s been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, but she should know better than to be stepping on grenades at 77.

Now some celebs aren’t sorry for anything. There are Hollywood liberals for whom bashing Donald Trump is part of their identity.

Robert De Niro was so determined to attack the former president that he planned to hijack the Gotham Awards to do it, but an Apple executive who was involved in the production removed his words from the teleprompter.

De Niro fumed about this, on camera, and a toned-down script was substituted. The actor still managed to accuse Trump of 30,000 lies among other insults.

Then the inevitable happened – Trump hit back on Truth Social:

"Robert De Niro, whose acting talents have greatly diminished, with his reputation now shot, must even use a teleprompter for his foul and disgusting language, so disrespectful to our Country. He has become unwatchable…

"De Niro should focus on his life, which is a mess, rather than the lives of others. He has become a total loser, as the World watches, waits, and laughs!" 

Punch and counterpunch.

The Hollywood elite versus Trump is an old storyline, dating back to a slam by Meryl Streep at the beginning of his presidency.

But amid a global surge in antisemitism, it is risky business for movie stars to sound off about Jews and Hamas — as the recent apologies have made all too clear.

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