Zone of Interest, The: Thousands of Creatives and Professionals Have Now Denounced Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech in Open Letter 

Thousands of Creatives and Professionals Have Now Denounced Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest’ Oscars Speech in Open Letter

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 10: Jonathan Glazer (R), winner of the Best International Feature Film award for “The Zone of Interest”, poses in the press room during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
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More than 1000 Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals have signed an open letter denouncing Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest Oscar speech.

The list of co-signees provided Monday morning covers a broad swath of the industry including actors (Debra Messing, Tovah Feldshuh), executives (Gary Barber, Gail Berman), creators (Amy Sherman-Palladino), directors (Eli Roth, Rod Lurie), producers (Lawrence Bender, Amy Pascal, Hawk Koch, Sherry Lansing) and representatives (UTA’s Jake Fenton, Gersh’s Jeffrey Greenberg, attorney Craig Emmanuel).

About 50 more individuals have added their names since the open letter was first published.

The group’s statement says: “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.”

With such high-profile co-signees as Jennifer Jason Leigh, “La La Land” producer Gary Gilbert and “The Americans” creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, the statement adds, “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 missive comes in response to director Jonathan Glazer’s controversial acceptance speech at the Oscars on March 10 after his Holocaust film “The Zone of Interest” won best international film.

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

After Glazer spoke, he received applause at the Dolby Theatre, some of it enthusiastic like from “Poor Things” star Mark Ruffalo. But the speech became a hot topic in the industry over the ensuing days, with many privately expressing outrage. But few were willing to publicly criticize Glazer’s words outside of Michael Rapaport (a signatory of the letter) and Mayim Bialik, who did so on social media. Blavatnik appeared to distance himself from the speech when his spokesperson told Variety: “His long-standing support of Israel is unwavering.”

It is unclear how the open letter, which can be signed here, came together.

“His words sounded eerily similar to Vanessa Redgrave’s infamous ‘Zionist hoodlum’ speech,” says “Modern Family” producer Ilana Wernick of Glazer’s speech. “Only this time there was no Paddy Chayefsky to stand up and say the right thing. Sadly, Jew hatred won the day. 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.”

“Stranger Things” and “Fleabag” actor Brett Gelman echoed that sentiment. “There was no concern for how Jewish people are going to react to a speech like that, to that applause to those red pins, when not even our hostages are being mentioned, and it’s just incredibly hurtful, incredibly painful,” says Gelman. “It’s truly baffling to me that people were choosing to be silent that night.”

Gelman, who is currently on a book tour for his literary debut “The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Stories,” has seen four stores cancel signings. (According to Gelman’s agent, the venues cited security concerns over pro-Palestinian protestors who have targeted Gelman for his vocal support for Israel).

Others who have made Holocaust films like director Jonathan Jakubowicz took issue with Glazer’s invoking the Nazi regime’s mass murder of Jews in the 1940s as a parallel to the Israeli war in Gaza.

“If Israel had existed in the 1930s and 40s, Auschwitz would not have happened,” says Jakubowicz, who directed “Resistance,” starring Jesse Eisenberg. “Mr. Glazer used the memory of the victims of the gas chambers to attack those trying to rescue Holocaust survivors and their relatives from captivity and sexual slavery. It’s important to call for peace, and we all do. 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.”

“The Affair” actor Noa Tishby says: “Glazer’s shocking attempt to blame global issues on his Jewishness and the Holocaust reveals the significant disconnect present among some in Hollywood.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier, a two-time Oscar winner who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says he was appalled not just by Glazer’s words but the reaction to them in the Dolby Theatre.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Hier. “If I didn’t know better, I would think that this was a Hamas rally. Where was the audience? People should have gotten up and booed because he left the Academy Awards thinking this was fine.”