Hollywood heavyweights come together to tackle Jew-hate through entertainment

The inaugural Variety Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit will bring together showrunners, actors and academics


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 12: The Hollywood sign stands as the WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike continues on July 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Members of SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors and other media professionals, may go on strike by 11:59 p.m. today which could shut down Hollywood productions completely with the writers in the third month of their strike against Hollywood studios. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Leading figures in the entertainment industry will come together at a landmark event later this month aimed at rooting out the scourge of antisemitism in Hollywood.

Showrunners, actors, directors and producers will gather for the inaugural Variety Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit to discuss how to harness the power of entertainment to expose and combat antisemitism.

The event, hosted by industry publication Variety and due to take place in Los Angeles on October 18, will examine Hollywood’s role in encouraging a “more thoughtful and accurate representation [of Jews] throughout the industry”, a Variety spokeswoman said.

Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, will be the event’s keynote speaker.

Discussion panels featuring writers, showrunners, actors, producers, activists and academics will examine topics including antisemitism in early Hollywood and how to use comedy to open up conversations about Jew-hate.

The event comes in the wake of research that uncovered just how skewed representations are of Jews in popular culture, with portrayals of working class and poor Jews almost non-existent on the big and small screen.

Wealthy Jewish characters in films and on TV are 10 times more common than Jewish characters experiencing poverty, according to the findings of the study published by a US group, TEN: Together Ending Need.

This is likely to be fuelling pernicious myths about Jews and money in the wider population, and further embedding the false assumption that all Jews are wealthy, the researchers suggested.

Analysts reviewed more than 1,000 news articles, television programmes, and films. They found that only three of 84 recent American films portraying Jewish characters showed Jews experiencing poverty.

 “For every Jewish character in film or television facing poverty, there are almost 10 Jewish characters who are wealthy [yet]... 26 per cent of American Jews had trouble paying bills at least once in the last year,” the report noted.

However, it concluded: “It is possible to replace the stereotypical narrative of Jewish wealth with a narrative about Jewish commitment to equity...

“It is possible to tell untold stories about how American Jews struggle to overcome the same economic barriers faced by other Americans, replacing a narrative of exceptionalism with a narrative of normalcy.”

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