In the wake of Christopher Reeve's inspiring visit, the war-torn country of Israel is trying to attract celebrities to help raise morale among its weary population.

The state's Los Angeles consulate praised Superman actor Reeve, who recently visited Israel, for helping the country's people overlook their troubles for a while.

Consul-General YUVAL ROTEM says, "Celebrities can go as an expression of solidarity with the people."

Rotem got the idea after director OLIVER STONE spent three days with Palestinian leader YASSER ARAFAT last year (02).

He adds, "The idea is that for 24, 48 hours, if you can do something to push morale, (it will be) a tremendous boost to the people of Israel.

"I do not expect them personally to support or endorse the Israeli Government policies.

"It's not a political statement to (say to) all the victims of terrorism, 'You are not alone.'"

Reeve's visit in July (03) followed trips by director Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender and singer Whitney Houston in May.

Pulp Fiction producer Bender toured Israel, the West Bank and Egypt in June, and met Israeli officials, then-Palestinian prime minister MAHMOUD ABBAS and Egyptian President HOSNI MUBARAK.

At the time he said, "I think (the Israeli people) enjoy meeting people from Hollywood. Obviously the Palestinians are suffering, but people need to understand that Israel needs help."

And actor JOSH MOLINA, one of the stars of political drama The West Wing, wants to break the seal about silence that stops celebrities supporting Israel.

He says, "I feel like the silence tacitly endorses the opinion that somehow Israel is the bully and the Palestinians are the underdog. It's politically incorrect to support Israel."

22/09/2003 17:16