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Sharon Stone in Our Shoes

The Hollywood star's call on Israelis to move out of their comfort zone for peace was insulting and ignorant

Sharon Stone came to honor Shimon Peres on his 90th birthday. She dined with presidents, prime ministers, celebrities and stars. I got to attend two sessions where she spoke and saw President Peres from the distance. That’s okay because I like my life how it is and that’s the nature of politics.

The Presidential Conference took place last week amid amazing speakers, amazing accommodations – at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. More than 5,000 people attended, we were told. Over 2,900 flew in (or were paid to come in), 450 journalists – wow, what a gathering. I’m honored to have been asked though I feel a bit of a fraud. I’m no longer a journalist. I mean, I am, a bit – but mostly, I’m a blogger and mostly I’m a writer, and mostly, I’m just an Israeli.

I listened to the speakers, one after the other, and quickly understood that my ears were hearing differently than what they intended. I know the reason why this is happening; they are confused. Why can’t I hear their message? Why can’t I be receptive to their oh-so-good intentions? They’ve come to save us. To impart their incredible wisdom and there go my ears, not hearing properly.

You see, the problem is that my ears have heard explosions. My eyes have witnessed the aftermath of terrorist attacks. My nights have been spent worrying where my son is, where the rocket hit, who was the latest victim. After enough of these sessions, an anger builds up inside. You smile for the plush setting, but you seethe inside.

Speaker after speaker has the nerve to come here and tell us we are strong and therefore we can make sacrifices for peace. Really, I want to ask them. Will it be your son, your daughter that is sacrificed? Will you pay to rebuild the homes destroyed by rockets? Will you watch the funerals, mourn with those we lost in this great sacrifice you have deemed worthy?

I have longed for peace in a way that Sharon Stone and so many of the speakers on the podium cannot imagine. It was never her son on the border, it was my son. It wasn’t her awake in the middle of the night checking the news to see what exploded and correlating that to where her loved ones were. She didn’t figure out that there was no relief in hearing the news that a city was safe because a missile fell in an open field because her son was stationed in an open field.

Sharon Stone was not the only one at the Presidential Conference who came to tell us that peace rests in our hands; that we are the strong ones; that we have to push and take risks. But I find myself more annoyed by her than by most of the speakers. I’m not sure why.

Personally, I found her references to “comfort zones” demeaning and condescending. First, because she assumed we live in a comfort zone and second because, having incorrectly decided that is where Israelis live, she urged us to get out of there and take risks. I have to wonder if, in her dedication to taking risks, she visited Shderot, Ashkelon or Ashdod. Did she take public buses, sit in a mall and talk to people? I saw a picture of the Kotel — it was amazingly clear of people beside her…what risks does she take?

In her misguided view of Israel, she thinks peace is something that we can make alone. Peace is something that needs a partner — or to put it in terms that Sharon Stone may understand, peace is like dancing, perhaps even like sex. If you want to do it right…well, never mind, you get the idea (if only Sharon Stone would).

Sharon Stone felt it important to tell us that she views herself, at 55, as “hot and sexy.” I’m glad for her but what that has to do with Israel, I’m not sure. More importantly, what does a career creating fiction have to do with the lives we live here? Why does she think she can come here and tell Israel what we must risk?

I enjoyed hearing about her life and her work. I like the fact that she is an advocate for peace and women’s rights. I guess what bothered me is her assumption that we here in Israel are any less pro-Israel or any less informed.

Trust us Sharon, if there was a way we could have made peace in the last 65 years, we would have done it. We’ve tried withdrawing from land — we did it in 1956; we did it for the Egyptians and the Jordanians; we pulled out of Gaza and we gave back a piece of Lebanon that even the UN thought we could keep. Trust us, Sharon, the lack of peace is something we feel every day. But your concept that we move out of the comfort zone is insulting.

We aren’t in the comfort zone. Those who ran from six missiles a few days ago feel no comfort when they go to sleep. Those of us who have had sons and daughters in the army, who still do Reserve Duty regularly…we feel little comfort for the entire time they are in uniform, weeks and months and years at a stretch.

There is a part of me that wants to be a bit nasty. I Googled a bit and found that Sharon Stone is currently involved with a 27-year old man…or maybe that was the previous one. Why is that relevant? Well, to put it in other terms, she’s free to live her life as she wishes but as I approach my 30th wedding anniversary with the same man I have known and loved since I was 18 years old, I find the analogy grows more evident.

Sharon Stone has every right to live as she wishes. It is her life — as it is ours. She should live and be well, as the saying goes, and not come here to tell us how to make peace (or how to build a lasting marriage). She has no experience with either. What peace has she built? What marriage has she maintained – what relationship, for that matter?

This is a danger in the Presidential Conference. Speakers come here believing they have the right, by virtue of their fame and their name, to preach. There are few more capable of speaking of the Muslim world than Ayaan Hirsi Ali; there are few more capable of speaking on the economy than Stanley Fischer.

Though I disagree with Tony Blair, at least he has had direct experience in the world of politics. Dr. Ruth came to talk of interpersonal relationships but other than showing her love of Israel, she did not attempt to tell us how to live our lives in the political arena, though she did encourage us to hold hands more often (and do some other things that I won’t mention here). And at least she lived in Israel, fought for Israel. She knows this country. What does Sharon Stone know of our lives here?

She came here to show us she is beautiful — and she is. To show us she is vibrant, alive and still very capable of flirting — and she is. She had half the men in love with her and a fair amount hoping that her dress would slip just a bit higher (and lower).

But the evil of beauty is that it can be abused. Sharon Stone is a very intelligent woman. Perhaps she is qualified to speak on human relations; perhaps she can speak on motherhood; certainly, she can speak about Hollywood and the path to stardom. But on building a nation, providing for its people, negotiating a long-term, real peace agreement with neighbors that still, to this day, would rather destroy us than sit at the table with us? Sorry…no.

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.