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Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech Backed by Group of Jewish Creatives After Being Denounced by Over 450 People

It’s been nearly a month since Jonathan Glazer gave his impassioned speech at the 96th annual Academy Awards during which he called out the “dehumanization” in the “ongoing attack on Gaza.” Since that star-studded night, the Zone of Interest director has been met with harsh criticism from creatives from all sects of Hollywood — including a public denouncement from hundreds of signees in an open letter published by Variety last month.

On Friday, Variety published another open letter, this time signed by 151 Jewish creatives to show their support for the Oscar-winning director.

The letter is signed by a mix of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and other creatives, including Joker star Joaquin Phoenix; Saturday Night Live star Chloe Fineman; Broad City stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson; filmmakers Joel Coen, Todd Haynes, Miranda July, Mike Leigh, Boots Riley, Amy Berg, Janicza Bravo, Nicole Holofcener; playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler); and veteran studio executive James Schamus.

“I am so grateful to be in such wonderful company,” Schamus posted to X (formerly Twitter). “Thanks to everyone who has added their much-needed voice in defense of our shared common humanity.”

Fellow signee, Indiewire‘s chief film critic, David Ehrlich, also posted to the social platform, writing, “Proud to be in some pretty good company here, but i’m also sickened that Glazer’s speech has been used to draw so much attention from the ongoing, ever-worsening genocide being conducted in our names. As Glazer proved, every chance to speak is a chance to speak out against this.”

Per Variety, the letter reads, in part: “We were alarmed to see some of our colleagues in the industry mischaracterize and denounce [Glazer’s] remarks. Their attacks on Glazer are a dangerous distraction from Israel’s escalating military campaign which has already killed over 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza and brought hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation. We grieve for all those who have been killed in Palestine and Israel over too many decades, including the 1,200 Israelis killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and the 253 hostages taken.”

Pointing out that Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg and other artists have spoken out against Israel’s attacks on Gaza, the letter adds that everyone should be able to speak out “without being wrongly accused of fueling antisemitism.”

“In his speech, Glazer asked how we can resist the dehumanization that has led to mass atrocities throughout history. For such a statement to be taken as an affront only underscores its urgency,” the letter continues. “We should be able to name Israel’s apartheid and occupation — both recognized by leading human rights organizations as such — without being accused of rewriting history.”

The letter concludes with, “We are proud Jews who denounce the weaponization of Jewish identity and the memory of the Holocaust to justify what many experts in international law, including leading Holocaust scholars, have identified as a ‘genocide in the making.’ …We stand with all those calling for a permanent ceasefire, including the safe return of all hostages and the immediate delivery of aid into Gaza, and an end to Israel’s ongoing bombardment of and siege on Gaza. We honor the memory of the Holocaust by saying: Never again for anyone.”

Read the full letter and list of signees on Variety.

Jonathan Glazer at the 96th Annual Academy Awards. – Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

While accepting the Oscar for Best International Film on March 10, the Zone of Interest director gave an impassioned speech, saying, “All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present, not to say look what they did then, but rather look what we do now. Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It’s shaped all of our past and present.”

With producer James Wilson and financier Len Blavatnik standing behind him, Glazer continued: “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 — 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?”

Loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis, Glazer’s historical drama focuses on the life of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig, who live with their family in a home in the “Zone of Interest” next to the concentration camp. 

At the ceremony, Glazer’s speech was met with applause, especially from stars who have vocally called for a ceasefire in Israel’s ongoing attacks on Gaza, including Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell and Ava DuVernay. The stars wore red pins in support of the organization Artists for Ceasefire. At this year’s GRAMMYs, Boygenius members Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker wore the same red pins.

A week after the Oscars, an open letter published by Variety featured signatures from Hollywood stars such as Julianna Margulies, Debra Messing, Tovah Feldshuh, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brett Gelman, directors Eli Roth and Rod Lurie, creators Amy Sherman-Palladino, Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, denouncing Glazer’s remarks.

The letter said, in part: “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.”

Since its publication, other Hollywood stars have spoken out in support of Glazer.

Tony Kushner – Paul Morigi/Getty Images

During an appearance on Haaretz Podcast in March, screenwriter and playwright Tony Kushner said Glazer’s words were an “unimpeachable, irrefutable statement.”

When asked by host Allison Kaplan Sommer if he identified with the speech, Kushner said, “Of course. I mean, who doesn’t? What he’s saying is so simple. He’s saying: Jewishness, Jewish identity, Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, the history of Jewish suffering must not be used in a campaign of — as an excuse for a project of dehumanizing or slaughtering other people.”

“This is a misappropriation of what it means to be a Jew, what the Holocaust meant, and [Glazer] rejects that,” he added. “Who doesn’t agree with that? What kind of person thinks that what’s going on now in Gaza is acceptable?”

More recently, Civil War star Kirsten Dunst told Variety, “My interpretation was he was saying that genocide is bad.”

To date, a number of other celebrities have called for a ceasefire, including Gigi and Bella Hadid, Melissa BarreraSusan Sarandon, Kehlani, The Weeknd, Annie Lennox, Hunter Schafer, Hozier and Angelina Jolie.

Last Saturday, Ramy Youssef called for Palestinians to be freed during the monologue of his Saturday Night Live hosting debut.

Recounting a call he received from a friend whose whole family is in Gaza, Youssef told the audience, “He goes, ‘Ramy. They’re suffering. I don’t know where half of them are. I don’t know what to do. Please pray for them. It’s the only thing we can do.’ So that night I go to pray and my prayers are … complicated.”

“I’ve got a lot to fit in. My God, please, please help Ahmed’s family. Please stop the suffering. Stop the violence. Please free the people of Palestine. Please,” he continued amid the loud applause from the audience. “And please free the hostages, all of the hostages, please.”

While Israel and Palestine have been entrenched in conflict for almost a century, the Oct. 7 attack drastically escalated circumstances. Some 1,200 Israelis were killed, and 240 citizens were taken hostage by the militant group Hamas. In response, the Israeli government retaliated by launching coordinated attacks and bombings in Gaza and the West Bank. 

Per Al Jazeera the Health Ministry has estimated that, to date, the death toll in Gaza has reached over 31,000 and over 72,524 have been wounded as a result of the ongoing conflict with Israel and the subsequent humanitarian crisis.


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