Open letter condemning Oscar winner's Israel-Gaza speech doubles in signatures after going viral

After top Hollywood stars like Michael Rapaport and Debra Messing joined 450 Jewish entertainment industry insiders to denounce an Oscar winner’s speech condemning Israel, an additional 500 people joined the effort when it went viral overnight.

The Hollywood Reporter reported Tuesday that the signatories to an open letter repudiating “The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer more than doubled, now topping 1,000 Jewish members of the entertainment community.

“The Zone of Interest,” about a Nazi family’s life next to Auschwitz, took home two Academy Awards earlier this month, including for Best International Film, during which Glazer gave his controversial speech.

“Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst,” Glazer said. “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 the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza – all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?”

Debra Messing, Julianna Margulies and Michael Rapaport were among the high-profile Jewish entertainers denouncing filmmaker Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar speech about Israel. (Getty Images)

In an open letter released Monday, the group of hundreds responded to Glazer, “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.

“Every civilian death in Gaza is tragic. But Israel is not targeting civilians. It is targeting Hamas. The moment Hamas releases the hostages and surrenders is the moment this heartbreaking war ends. This has been true since the Hamas attacks of October 7th.”

The signatories continued, “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 current climate of growing antisemitism only underscores the need for the Jewish State of Israel, a place which will always take us in, as no state did during the Holocaust depicted in Mr. Glazer’s film.”

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Among the other high-profile names attached to the letter were actors Julianna Margulies, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tovah Feldshuh, Lisa Edelstein and Brett Gelman, top producer Amy Pascal, and filmmakers Eli Roth and Rod Lurie.

“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,” Gelman told Variety. “It’s truly baffling to me that people were choosing to be silent that night.”

Representatives for Glazer did not respond to Fox News Digital‘s requests for comment.

Jonathan Glazer accepts the Best International Feature Film award for “The Zone of Interest” at the 96th Annual Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Variety via Getty Images) (Photo by Rich Polk/Variety via Getty Images)

Glazer’s words were also rejected by one of his film’s executive producers, Danny Cohen, who said last week, “I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan.”

“It’s really important to recognize it’s upset a lot of people and a lot of people feel upset and angry about it. And I understand that anger frankly,” Cohen said on the Unholy podcast. “The war and the continuation of the war is the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization which continues to hold and abuse the hostages, which doesn’t use its tunnels to protect the innocent civilians of Gaza but uses it to hide themselves and allow Palestinians to die. I think the war is tragic and awful and the loss of civilian life is awful, but I blame Hamas for that.”

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The speech was further condemned in an open letter by The Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation.

“I watched in anguish Sunday night when I heard you use the platform of the Oscars ceremony to equate Hamas’s maniacal brutality against innocent Israelis with Israel’s difficult but necessary self-defense in the face of Hamas’s ongoing barbarity. Your comments were factually inaccurate and morally indefensible,” Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA president and 94-year-old Holocaust survivor David Schaecter wrote to Glazer.

“The ‘occupation’ of which you speak has nothing to do with the Holocaust. The Jewish people’s existence and right to live in the land of Israel predates the Holocaust by hundreds of years. Today’s political and geographic landscape is the direct result of wars started by past Arab leaders who refused to accept Jewish people as their neighbors in our historic homeland. Now that several Arab countries are making peace with Israel because security and prosperity are better for all people, Iran and its terrorist proxies started another war, abetted by too many, who, through naïveté or malice, blame ‘the occupation.’”

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)

“Worse is that you chose to use the Holocaust to validate your personal opinion. You made a Holocaust movie and won an Oscar. And you are Jewish. Good for you. But it is disgraceful for you to presume to speak for the six million Jews, including one and half million children, who were murdered solely because of their Jewish identity,” Schaecter continued.

“And it is disgraceful for you to presume to speak for those of us who personally saw the world stand silent as our mothers, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were murdered. We actually had nowhere to go – no possible place for refuge. No country would accept us even though world leaders knew full well that thousands of Jews were being murdered every day. There was no Jewish nation to which we could flee. You should be ashamed of yourself for using Auschwitz to criticize Israel.”

“The Zone of Interest” offers a harrowing depiction of a Nazi commander’s family living next to the atrocities of the Auschwitz concentration camps. The film earned five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and Glazer himself was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.

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