Over 1,000 Hollywood creatives denounce Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar speech for ‘fueling anti-Jewish hatred’

Jewish actors, directors, producers and executives have slammed the Jewish director of ‘The Zone of Interest’ in an open letter: ‘The current climate of growing antisemitism only underscores the need for the Jewish State of Israel’

Jonathan Glazer’s speech at the Oscars
Director Jonathan Glazer, with the Oscar for 'The Zone of Interest' on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.Rodin Eckenroth (Getty Images)
María Porcel

Although almost 10 days have passed since the Oscars, the award ceremony is still reverberating in Hollywood. In particular, the speech that director Jonathan Glazer gave when his movie, The Zone of Interest which paints a grim picture of the Auschwitz concentration camp, won Best International Feature Film. In his acceptance speech, the British filmmaker spoke out about the Gaza war, breaking the mood of a ceremony that until then had been filled with simple and soft-hitting jokes. He was the only person to reference the conflict that night. But it appears his words have upset the Jewish and very conservative Hollywood. So far, around a thousand names from the movie business have signed an open letter against Glazer.

According to Variety, which had access to the letter, the document was initially signed by 450 people. By Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 1,000 names. The list of signees includes actors Debra Messing, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Rapaport, Eli Roth and Julianna Margulies (who had to apologize for offending the Black and LGBTQ+ communities in December after she accused them of antisemitism in a podcast); directors such as Rod Lurie (The Outpost), creators such as Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), producers such as Amy Pascal (Little Women, Spider-Man: Crossing the Multiverse), Gary Gilbert (La La Land, The Boys Are All Right) and Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds); and executives such as Gary Barber, who was president and director Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Screenwriters, musicians, lyricists, video game creators, photographers, distributors, publicists and artist representatives also signed the letter.

The open letter states: “We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.”

It continues: “Every civilian death in Gaza is tragic. Israel is not targeting civilians. It is targeting Hamas. The moment Hamas releases the hostages and surrenders is the moment this heartbreaking war ends. This has been true since the Hamas attacks of October 7th. The use of words like ‘occupation’ to describe an Indigenous Jewish people defending a homeland that dates back thousands of years, and has been recognized as a state by the United Nations, distorts history. It gives credence to the modern blood libel that fuels a growing anti-Jewish hatred around the world, in the United States, and in Hollywood. The current climate of growing antisemitism only underscores the need for the Jewish State of Israel, a place which will always take us in, as no state did during the Holocaust depicted in Mr. Glazer’s film.”

The open letter takes aim at Glazer’s speech at the Oscars, which was not exactly met with rousing approval at the Dolby Theater. “All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present, not to say, ‘Look what they did then.’ Rather, ‘what we do now.’ Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst,” he said, as he stood beside his two producers. “Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?”

Glazer calmly delivered the relatively timid speech, which was received with adequate applause — and enthusiastic clapping from some supporters such as Mark Ruffalo, who, like Billie Eilish and Ava DuVernay, wore a pin in support of a permanent ceasefire. But since then, the issue has snowballed, with Hollywood’s Jewish creators expressing their anger at the speech.

From left to right, James Wilson, Leonard Blavatnik and Jonathan Glazer collect the Oscar for best international film for 'The Zone of Interest,' at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on March 10, 2024.
From left to right, James Wilson, Leonard Blavatnik and Jonathan Glazer collect the Oscar for best international film for 'The Zone of Interest,' at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on March 10, 2024. CAROLINE BREHMAN (EFE)

“Sadly, Jew hatred won the day,” Ilana Wernick, the producer of shows such as Modern Family and Til Death, told Variety. “That’s why so many of us in the industry reached out to each other. It was a very sad, very scary night. Writing the letter wasn’t just cathartic for us. It’s something we had to do.”

“It’s important to call for peace, and we all do,” added director Jonathan Jakubowicz. “But in this conflict disinformation prolongs the war. And his comments unfortunately gave legitimacy to the propaganda networks interested in prolonging the war to demonize the Jewish people.”

Producer Richard Trank, winner of the 1997 Oscar in 1997 for Best Documentary for The Long Way Home — which is about the creation of the State of Israel —, called Glazer’s speech “arrogant.” “Many Jews around the world were outraged and disgusted by what the Oscar winner had to say at this year’s Academy Awards. And joining that group, I would say that if we are going to resist or refute anything, it’s statements like the one issued by Jonathan Glazer,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

The Monday after The Zone of Interest — which is based on a novel by Martin Amis, who saw the finished film shortly before his death — won the Oscar, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism, Amichai Chikli, described Glazer as an “auto-antisemitic Jew.” In a message on social media, the minister said: “There is no forgiving such vile types.”

In a message on X, Danny Danon, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.N. who is a member of Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said “it’s a shame that a Jewish director took advantage of the stage that he was given to make antisemitic remarks comparing the Holocaust to the war of no-choice that was forced upon us.”

Several Jewish organizations in the United States also criticized Glazer’s words. “Israel is not hijacking Judaism or the Holocaust by defending itself against genocidal terrorists,” the Anti-Defamation League stated, labeling the speech as “factually incorrect and morally reprehensible.”

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