Hundreds of Hollywood Creatives Sign Open Letter Condemning Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech

Debra Messing, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and hundreds of other actors, producers, and directors signed a letter denouncing the acclaimed Oscar-winning director of The Zone of Interest.

Hundreds of Hollywood Creatives Sign Open Letter Condemning Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech
Glazer backstage at the Oscars with one of the producers of The Zone of Interest, James Wilson. Photo: Shutterstock

On Monday, one week after the 96th Academy Awards, more than 450 Jewish creatives in Hollywood including Debra Messing, Eli Roth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh denounced Jonathan Glazer’s acceptance speech for The Zone of Interest via an open letter.

“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,” the letter reads in part, partially borrowing from the verbiage used in the acclaimed director’s remarks.

“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 goes on. “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.”

Given Glazer’s speech drew immediate ire, the letter—which, according to Variety, got 50 additional signatures overnight—sadly doesn’t exactly arrive as a surprise. One day after the ceremony, a red-faced Michael Rapaport used his podcast to condemn the director. In an accompanying Instagram post, he wrote: “Jonathan Glazer exploited the HOLOCAUST, its victims, and survivors, while you refute your Jewishness in front of the world. You did this when things are as dire for Jews as they have been since the Holocaust?” Mayim Bialik, too, criticized celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Billie Eilish who attended the ceremony wearing Artists4Ceasefire pins. Even Danny Cohen, an executive producer on The Zone of Interest, distanced himself from Glazer after the speech.

“I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan,” Cohen said. “It’s really important to recognize it’s upset a lot of people and a lot of people feel upset and angry about it.”

The irony here is that not only is Glazer Jewish, but he took home the Best International Film award for a story quite literally about the active and passive dehumanization of innumerable Jewish lives in Nazi-era Germany. Much was said about The Zone of Interest‘s depiction of the banality of evil during the film’s press cycle—but it can’t be said enough that Glazer’s film also encapsulated the mental gymnastics humans are capable of in justifying their actions, and in this case, wickedness. The Höss family was able to enjoy their lives—to laugh, swim, play, throw parties, etc.—as thousands of Jews were annihilated just over their fence.

As I type this blog, Gaza’s death toll has surpassed 30,000 since the end of February. Meanwhile, countless Palestinians continue to starve to death in one of the most dire humanitarian crises in history as the Israel Defense Force is ceaseless in its attacks on innocent and defenseless civilians, journalists, and activists.

In his speech, Glazer said: “All our choices we made to reflect and confront us in the present—not to say ‘Look what they did then,’ rather, ‘Look what we do now.’ Our film shows where dehumanization leads, at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present. 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 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?”

Among the swath of industry members—actors, creators, directors, producers, and representatives—who signed the letter are: Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino; Little Women producer Amy Pascal, and Jacob Fenton, the representative to Jennifer Coolidge, Eliot Page, Julia Garner, and more.

By contrast, a number of Glazer’s peers have extended their support. On his Instagram story, Mark Ruffalo recently posted a Vox article that contextualized Glazer’s remarks and was soon reposted by Melissa Barrera. On X, responses to the open letter poured in, too. “Extending thoughts and prayers to all of the Gilmore Girls fans/‘Globalise the Intifada’ enthusiasts upon seeing Amy Sherman-Palladino on this list,” wrote one user. “Jennifer Jason Leigh on this i am glad that Noah Baumbach cheated on her,” said another.

Glazer has yet to comment on the matter.

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