Michael Rapaport, Debra Messing, 450 Jewish Stars Slam Oscar Speech

Hollywood Responds to Controversial Oscars Speech with Emotion.

by Zain ul Abedin
Michael Rapaport, Debra Messing, 450 Jewish Stars Slam Oscar Speech
© Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

In a striking display of unity and cultural identity, over 450 Jewish figures in the entertainment industry, including luminaries such as Debra Messing, Julianna Margulies, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tovah Feldshuh, Lisa Edelstein, and Brett Gelman, have voiced their opposition to the remarks made by Jonathan Glazer, director of "The Zone of Interest," during his Oscars acceptance speech.

Their collective discontent centers on what they perceive as a problematic comparison made by Glazer between the actions of the Nazi regime and the current Israeli government's measures against Hamas in the context of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In a powerful open letter highlighted by Variety, these industry professionals expressed their concern over the misuse of their Jewish heritage to draw morally equivalent lines between the genocidal ambitions of the Nazis and the defensive actions of Israel, a nation recognized by the United Nations and rooted in a history that stretches back thousands of years.

They argue that Israel's military efforts are directed not against civilians but against Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization responsible for the ongoing conflict and human suffering in the region. The letter emphasizes the tragic nature of any civilian death in Gaza while firmly stating that Israel's primary aim is the defense of its people and sovereignty.

Community Reacts Strongly

The response to Glazer's speech has been sincere and widespread, with notable figures within the community offering their perspectives. Brett Gelman, for instance, spoke to Variety about the deep hurt and pain felt by many Jewish individuals due to the speech's reception and the symbolic gestures accompanying it, lamenting the absence of dialogue around the hostages currently held by Hamas.

Fox News Digital's request for comment from Glazer's representatives remained unanswered at the time of reporting. Glazer's film, which explores the depths of human dehumanization through the lens of a Nazi commander's family living adjacent to Auschwitz, won two Academy Awards, including Best International Film.

In his controversial speech, Glazer emphasized the film's thematic exploration of dehumanization and expressed his stance against using the Holocaust and Jewish identity to justify the ongoing occupation and conflict affecting innocent lives on both sides of the Israel-Hamas war.

The backlash also includes a poignant letter from Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA president and Holocaust survivor, David Schaecter, who condemned Glazer's comparison as factually inaccurate and morally indefensible.

Schaecter's letter provides a historical context to the Jewish people's connection to Israel, predating the Holocaust, and criticizes the use of such a significant platform to spread a narrative he views as harmful and misleading.

As the entertainment community grapples with these complex issues, the conversation around the conflict, history, and how they intersect with personal and public narratives continues to evolve, underscoring the delicate balance between artistic expression and historical sensitivity.