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Elliot Gould, Joaquin Phoenix, Ilana Glazer, 150+ Jewish creatives sign open letter backing Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech

The letter follows a different open letter criticizing Glazer, who used his speech to criticize Israel and “dehumanization”

(JTA) — More than 150 Jewish filmmakers, writers, actors, and creatives — including Oscar nominees and winners — have signed an open letter in support of director Jonathan Glazer’s acceptance speech at the 2024 Academy Awards.

Glazer, whose Holocaust movie “The Zone of Interest” won best international feature, used his speech to denounce Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, which he said had led to “dehumanization” that had affected both Israelis and Palestinians.

More than 1,200 Jewish creatives signed an open letter criticizing Glazer’s speech shortly after the Oscars. Though not all of the names on the list were prominent, and some appeared to be fake, the signatories included some big names: the creator of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Amy Sherman-Palladino, horror director Eli Roth, actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, among others.

Now, a number of high-profile Jews in Hollywood — several of whom have produced or starred in Jewish stories — have lent Glazer their official support in an open letter that also calls for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

“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 reject the false choice between Jewish safety and Palestinian freedom,” the letter says. “We honor the memory of the Holocaust by saying: Never again for anyone.”

Signatories include actor Joaquin and sister Rain Phoenix; Joel Coen, one half of the celebrated Coen Brothers directorial duo; comedian and actor David Cross; director Todd Haynes; “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chloe Fineman; actor Elliot Gould; Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the creators and co-stars of “Broad City”; “Leopoldstadt” playwright Tom Stoppard; Tavi Gevinson, actress and founder of online fashion blog Rookie; Morgan Spector, star of HBO’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America” and “The Gilded Age”; Israeli actress and model Hari Nef; Broadway and TV actor Noah Galvin; character actress Miriam Margolyes; “Shiva Baby” and “Bottoms” director Emma Seligman; and actor and playwright Wallace Shawn.

“We were alarmed to see some of our colleagues in the industry mischaracterize and denounce his remarks,” the letter states. “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.”

In the letter published Friday, the signatories say the attacks on Glazer “have a silencing effect on our industry, contributing to a broader climate of suppression of free speech and dissent, the very qualities our field should cherish.” It cites Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s comments on the war, where Spielberg recently warned we may be doomed to repeat history.

The letter calls for a permanent ceasefire and end to the blockade on Gaza, the safe return of hostages, and immediate delivery of aid to Gaza.

“We should all be able to do the same without being wrongly accused of fueling antisemitism,” the letter continues. “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. 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.”

Ilana Glazer told Variety in a statement that she believed there was widespread pressure not to speak out about Gaza. “I signed this letter to help counter the climate of silencing that many workplaces and industries are facing around Israel’s war on Gaza, now entering its seventh month,” she wrote. “This controversy surrounding Jonathan Glazer is just one example.”

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