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Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: ‘It’s exactly like what the Old South was in America’

Actor Richard Gere in Hebron hands his wallet to Israeli soldiers. PHOTO: Mondoweiss

By Allison Deger | 24 March 2017

MONDOWEISS — While Richard Gere was in Israel and the occupied West Bank promoting his film “Norman,” he was recorded in an unguarded moment wandering the desolate streets of Hebron’s Old City. A dumbfounded Gere is near at a loss for words in the clip, which aired on Israel’s Channel 2 network.

Not a Palestinian in sight. Soldiers and settlers roam comparatively carefree. The roads are too quiet. All of the shops are shuttered. Gere is stunned:

“This is the thing that’s flipping me out right now,” Gere stammers to his Hebron guides, activists with the Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, former soldiers that now advocate against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory, “Of everything we’ve seen for two days, the people we’ve talked to, it’s…I mean…I’m…I’m touched by that, I know that story. But this is really bizarre.”

“This is genuinely strange,” Gere adds, before telling his guides, Hebron is like the Jim Crow South:

“It’s the dead city, but who owns the city? And their [the settlers] feeling of ‘I’m protected, I can do whatever I want,’ and that sense of where the boundaries are. I mean it’s like…it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go, they could drink from that fountain, they couldn’t go over there, they couldn’t eat in that place. It was well understood. You didn’t cross it or you’d get your head beat in or lynched,” Gere said.

At one point soldiers stopped Gere and asked for his passport. He didn’t have it on him. But he’s from New York, he told them. Once the soldiers realized he is the Richard Gere–“Richard Gere, wow,” one said–the mood softens. But Gere is still visibly unsettled. […]

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