Shame on Jonathan Glazer for his Oscars speech

The director blamed ‘the occupation’ – but what did he mean?


Leonard Blavatnik, James Wilson, and Jonathan Glazer accept the Best International Feature Film award for "The Zone of Interest" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

March 11, 2024 10:33

There is nothing Jew-haters love more than the penitent who is willing to sell his own people down the river.

We saw it all over the weekend with the ‘I’m Jewish and I’m marching with the pro-Hamas demonstrators’ chest-beating. What they were saying is, ‘I am not like the other Jews, I am a good Jew’.

And so, there is no surprise that Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer should get a huge round of applause from Hollywood for telling them he refuted his own Jewishness “being hijacked” in respect to the war in Gaza.

Standing with fellow Jew and producer James Wilson he said: ‘Our film shows where dehumanisation 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 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack in Gaza.’

He read from a crumpled pre prepared speech which meant he had really thought about what he wanted to say. But what was it? There has been no occupation of Gaza since 2005. The occupation of the West Bank has nothing to do with the Holocaust. So is he refuting the whole idea of Israel? Is he calling the entire project an ‘occupation’? Is he saying Jews are using the Holocaust as an excuse for the war in Gaza?

All of this is ahistorical nonsense unless he is saying he would prefer Israel simply didn’t exist.

I understand why he would want to perhaps use this moment of success to talk about war. I empathise with why he would want to point out how each side in every war dehumanises the other. But by linking the Holocaust and Gaza he has trampled on the six million dead and the particular pernicious way in which they were slaughtered.

And by doing it As A Jew he wins double plaudits from Jew haters while leaving the rest of us – already labouring under a tsunami of antisemitism – feeling like we have been punched in the stomach. Betrayal is so much harder when it is one of your own. It really hurts.

War is horrible. We all want it to be over. Every day my internet trolls send me photographs of dead Palestinian babies. Every week I meet a new family of a hostage who have no idea whether their relations are alive or dead. The current war is a tragedy. But war and genocide are not the same.

What should have been a night of both reflection and celebration – with Glazer’s film winning two awards as well as the film Oppenheimer – about another brilliant Jewish man – winning seven gongs has led to fury and hurt within our community and glee among those who hate us.

And it is telling that it was done as Hollywood drank and laughed and slapped each other on the back for doing a job which is entertainment but rarely makes an impact in the real world.

Just a few hours before Glazer went on stage Hamas were putting out their own film. This one claimed that four more hostages were dead – including ironically enough a Polish-born Holocaust historian called Alex Dancyg who used to give tours to schoolchildren at Auschwitz – the scene of Glazer’s film.

Let Glazer go seek adulation among the people who applauded him. Like every As A Jew in history, he’ll soon learn that their friendship only goes so far.

March 11, 2024 10:33

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