AWARDS season is always an exciting time in the world of showbiz. The stars put on their best frocks, show off their latest plastic surgery, slap each other on the back and mouth off about whatever is the fashionable political cause of the moment.
This year is going to be the most interesting – and perhaps most toxic – of all.
A move to persuade celebrities attending events such as the Baftas and the Oscars to wear yellow ribbons in support of the hostages in Gaza is struggling.
People on the pro-Israel side know they will get attacked for simply saying taking hostages or rape is bad. Meanwhile, you have people like Khalid Abdalla (Dodi Fayed in The Crown), who used the slogan “Never Again” – normally used in reference to the Holocaust – to highlight the plight of the Palestinians.
Producer Leo Pearlman, whose Fulwell 73 company has made a host of award-winning documentaries and dramas, is among those struggling to get people to agree to wear a yellow ribbon – despite offering them to friends in the industry.
“The lack of recognisable names willing to put their head above the parapet is quite telling – and that’s not to downplay how fantastic it is for the people who are willing to do so,” he says.
“I think if more people did do it, then it would help other Jews stand up to this hatred.
“It’s very sad that one can’t even make a gesture about the hostages without being subjected to hatred.
“But that’s all the more reason why we need to show how Jews and Israelis are being held to different standards.”
Some high-profile names have admitted privately that they are not willing face the backlash and potential threat to their lives that standing up publicly for the hostages would entail.
In the UK, Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman have been subject to a tsunami of hatred while Gwyneth Paltrow was accused of “supporting genocide” simply for posting “Rape is not resistance or freedom fighting” on Instagram.
“Everyone has to look after their own family safety and mental health,” says Leo, whose Fulwell 73 partner Ben Winston did wear a yellow ribbon when he picked up an Emmy for the company’s documentary Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium.
“But it’s incredibly telling that it’s very hard to even find the Jews out there who are willing to do so, let alone the non-Jews.
“And if we as Jews are not willing to do so, can we really expect anyone else to come to our rescue?”
There is the issue, of course, if anyone wants to see celebrities mouthing off about political causes at awards ceremonies – they bore the pants off audiences. I am certainly not advocating for long speeches. #
But at a time when both Israel and the diaspora are feeling sad and alone, when my WhatsApp is full of people struggling with antisemitism, the difference a discreet yellow ribbon could make should not be underestimated.