More than 450 Jewish creatives denounce Jonathan Glazer’s ‘The Zone of Interest’ Oscars speech

More than 450 Jewish creatives denounce Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest’ Oscars Speech
More than 450 Jewish creatives denounce Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest’ Oscars Speech Copyright AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Copyright AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
By David Mouriquand
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Is this open letter just another sign that words, like films, wilfully taken out of context and willingly misunderstood, only serves to destroy free speech and quash calls for greater compassion?


This is the Oscars controversy that refuses to dissipate...

After his stirring and polarizing speech during the 96th Academy Awards, during which British director Jonathan Glazer, accepting Best International Feature for his staggering Holocaust film The Zone of Interest, drew a parallel between his film and the current conflict in Gaza, debate continues to rage.

His words on Oscar night have been labelled “morally indefensible” and "reprehensible," and several Oscar-winning directors have weighed in - including 'Son of Saul' director László Nemes and 'Amy' director Asif Kapadia.

Now, more than 450 Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals have signed an open letter denouncing Glazer’s speech.

The list of co-signees was provided to Variety, who published the letter in full.

The list includes actors (Debra Messing, Jennifer Jason Leigh), executives (Gary Barber, Gail Berman), directors (Eli Roth, Rod Lurie), producers (Lawrence Bender, Amy Pascal, Gary Gilbert) and representatives (UTA’s Jake Fenton, Gersh’s Jeffrey Greenberg, WGA’s Wendy Sachs).

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.”

“Every civilian death in Gaza is tragic. 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 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.”

Jonathan Glazer on stage at the 96th Oscars
Jonathan Glazer on stage at the 96th OscarsChris Pizzello/Invision/AP

While accepting the Oscar, Glazer said that his film shows “where dehumanization leads at its worst.”

“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 Oct. 7 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, like from Poor Things star Mark Ruffalo – who, like Billie Eilish, was wearing an Artists4Ceasefire pin.

However, the speech has continued to cause outrage. The Holocaust Survivor’s Foundation USA (HSF) and the Anti-Defamation League has slammed his words, while Rabbi Marvin Hier, a two-time Oscar winner who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he was appalled by the reaction during Oscar night.

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

Few Hollywood professionals have publicly defended Glazer’s words, aside from celebrated filmmaker Asif Kapadia, who won the 2015 Best Feature Documentary Oscar for Amy.

Prior to the Oscars ceremony, Steven Spielberg declared The Zone of Interest “the best Holocaust movie I’ve witnessed since my own”, and Alfonso Cuarón called it “probably the most important film of this century”.

No news from these filmmakers since.

However, reactions online to the news of this open letter have also proven divisive, with many siding with Glazer.


"But the rest of us denounce this letter and stand with Glazer, just FYI"

"Shoutout to the 900,000 Jewish creatives, executives, and Hollywood professions who haven't"

Henry Joseph-Grant
Henry Joseph-GrantX

"It's absolutely bonkers that people would actually club together to denounce basic common sense, compassion, empathy, humanity and morals. But I guess the brainwashed, evil and unconscious will continue to lead the chareg of that in 2024. It won't age well for them though..."

"..........kind of shocked that anyone who saw zone of interest could be shocked by what glazer said at the oscars"

"This was the only logical speech that the maker of THE ZONE OF INTEREST could make tonight but it obviously took real guts for him to actually say it. Bravo."

Jeremiah Rosen
Jeremiah RosenX

"Besides being so embarrassing, really telling on themselves that they didn't really understand what the movie was actually about. They thought the message was "nazis bad"."

This last comment is particularly interesting, as the new chapter in this controversy not only highlights the growing divide in Hollywood, as well as its pro-Palestine issue (even if Glazer's comments were about the universal ills of dehumanization), but shows that The Zone of Interest has been misunderstood by lazier fans who reductively saw the film as a film exclusively about the Holocaust. 

Glazer has repeatedly stressed otherwise. The Zone of Interest is about mankind's enduring capacity to cope, benefit from, and live with the worst of atrocities. His film was about provoking thoughts with regards to humanity's greatest destructive tendencies, and his speech only served as a stark reminder that just because a film is set in a historically specific setting, our capacity to quash empathy in the face of annihilation survives through the ages. 

Is this recent open letter just another sign that words, like films, wilfully taken out of context and willingly misunderstood, only serves to destroy free speech and reject calls for greater compassion? 

Glazer never rejected his Jewishness; he rejected his Jewishness being used as an excuse for murder.


Millions watched Glazer’s moderate speech and it’s easily accessible online, even if the Academy refuses to showcase it. To watch it and hear his words echoes Asif Kapadia's comments: "He stood up and told the truth. This is what true artists do.”

Additional sources • Variety

Share this articleComments

You might also like