Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

At the Oscars, Golda’s Biographer Pulls a Kanye West

In an Oscars ceremony that seemed languid at times and straight up bizarre at others (interpretive breakdancing?!), one moment stood out as one of the more dramatic of the evening. If you were watching, you know what I’m talking about: the woman who pulled a Kanye. Well, it turns out — doesn’t it always — that there is a Jewish connection, and a pretty funny one given the circumstances.

The winner for best documentary short went to “Music By Prudence,” a film about a group of Zimbabwean musicians. Its director, Roger Ross Williams, stepped up to the microphone to make his acceptance speech, got about 10 seconds into it, and was then, almost literally, shoved aside by a woman in a purple gown, saying “Let a woman talk!” Williams then stood there stunned, as the woman indeed talked until those telltale strains of orchestral music sounded and the show moved on.

The name of the woman, Elinor Burkett, didn’t register last night, but this morning I suddenly remembered where I had heard it before. Burkett is also an author, and last year I reviewed in the Forward a biography of Golda Meir that she wrote. The book, titled “Golda” was published in 2008 and — to quote myself — it is a “sympathetic but unapologetic” look at Israel’s first woman premier. I estimated at the time that Burkett had done a pretty good job giving us a more complex picture of Golda, one I described as presenting “a tragic, lonely, sickly figure, a terrible mother who cuckolded and neglected her husband, alienated her loved ones and often terrorized her closest friends.”

I certainly remember Burkett’s Golda coming off as an extraordinarily strong-willed woman who could more than hold her own as she climbed the ranks of the Zionist leadership, pushing aside friends and lovers who got in her way.

Now we don’t know the backstory of what happened in those few seconds last night — and it sounds pretty tangled — but there was definitely a strong will on display and certainly shoving.

Salon actually interviewed both Burkett and Williams after the show and got a mouthful of post mortem from both. The feud between them is now new. Here’s what Burkett had to say:

What happened was the director and I had a bad difference over the direction of the film that resulted in a lawsuit that has settled amicably out of court. But there have been all these events around the Oscars, and I wasn’t invited to any of them. And he’s not speaking to me. So we weren’t even able to discuss ahead of the time who would be the one person allowed to speak if we won. And then, as I’m sure you saw, when we won, he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn’t get up there very fast.

But she did get up there eventually. As for Williams’ reaction, it basically boiled down to this: “She just ambushed me. I was sort of in shock.”

Forget Kanye. Williams should have known better than to mess with anyone familiar in the ways of Golda.

Watch the moment here:

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.