Over 150 Jewish creatives sign open letter defending Jonathan Glazer for Oscars speech on Gaza

Joaquin Phoenix, Elliott Gould, and Chloe Fineman are among more than 150 Jewish creatives who have signed an open letter supporting Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech on Gaza.

The director of Holocaust film The Zone of Interest condemned military action against Palestinians in the strip, as he accepted the Academy Award for Best International Film, with his speech being both celebrated and criticised.

Now Joker star Joaquin Phoenix, Ocean’s Eleven actor Elliott Gould and Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman have joined a call to defend Glazer.

“Our film shows where dehumanisation leads at its worst,” Glazer had said at the event.

“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 dehumanisation… how do we resist?”

Other signees include Phoenix’s sister Rain, three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger, Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley, Fargo filmmaker Joel Coen, Gossip Girl actor Tavi Gevinson, Room director Lenny Abrahamson, former CEO of Focus pictures James Schamus, The Princess Bride actor Wallace Shawn, Bottoms director Emma Seligman, and Broad City stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, according to Variety.

“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,” Ilana Glazer told Variety.

“This controversy surrounding Jonathan Glazer is just one example.”

Over 150 Jewish creatives have signed the open letter defending the speech (Getty Images)
Over 150 Jewish creatives have signed the open letter defending the speech (Getty Images)

Schamus added: “It has been weeks since Jonathan Glazer’s acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, but, as we’re reminded by this week’s unconscionable killing of seven World Center Kitchen aid workers — and of countless more Palestinian civilians — his plea for humanity has only become more urgent, as has our duty as Jewish creatives to protest the vicious smear campaign waged against him.”

It comes as the speech divided the industry with Spider-Man actor Kirsten Dunst, Ruby Sparks star Zoe Kazan, band Massive Attack, filmmaker Ken Loach, and I’m A Virgo creator Boots Riley showing support for the director while many Jewish creatives including Debra Messing and Eli Roth signed an open letter denouncing it.

Glazer won the award for Best International Film for his movie ‘The Zone of Interest’ (AFP via Getty Images)
Glazer won the award for Best International Film for his movie ‘The Zone of Interest’ (AFP via Getty Images)

The text of the letter opens: “We are Jewish artists, filmmakers, writers and creative professionals who support Jonathan Glazer’s statement from the 2024 Oscars. We were alarmed to see some of our colleagues in the industry mischaracterize and denounce his remarks.

“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.”

It continues: “The attacks on Glazer also 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. Glazer, Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg and countless other artists of all backgrounds have decried the killing of Palestinian civilians. We should all be able to do the same without being wrongly accused of fueling antisemitism,” and concludes, “We honor the Holocaust by saying: Never again for anyone.”

The full statement can be read here.

Others to sign the letter in support of Glazer include documentary maker Amy Berg, comedian Kate Berlant, Zola creator Janicza Bravo, and IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich.

Glazer’s movie The Zone of Interest follows an Auschwitz officer and his wife living just metres away from the concentration camp.

He has joined We Need to Talk About Kevin star Tilda Swinton, presenter Louis Theroux, Sex Education’s Aimee Lou Wood, Bridgerton‘s Penelope Featherington actor Nicola Coughlan and Doctor Who‘s Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman to donate items to Cinema for Gaza. The initiative seeks to raise funds for Medical Aid for Palestinians.