Tony Kushner Defends Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech: ‘Who Doesn’t Agree?’

Lauren Justice/Reuters
Lauren Justice/Reuters

Acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner has pushed back against critics of Jonathan Glazer’s speech at the Oscars about Israel’s war in Gaza.

Kushner told the Haaretz Podcast on Wednesday that he viewed Glazer’s remarks as an “unimpeachable, irrefutable statement.” Glazer, who made the comments after winning an Academy Award for The Zone of Interest, has been condemned by some for saying he and his colleagues “refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.”

‘Zone of Interest’ Director First Oscar Winner to Address Gaza

Kushner, who has himself been nominated for four Academy Awards, was asked on the podcast if he found himself identifying with what Glazer had said. “Of course!” he answered. “I mean, who doesn’t? What he’s saying is so simple. He’s saying: Jewishness, Jewish identity, Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, the history of Jewish suffering must not be used in a campaign of—as an excuse for a project of dehumanizing or slaughtering other people,” Kushner said.

“This is a misappropriation of what it means to be a Jew, what the Holocaust meant, and [Glazer] rejects that,” the Angels in America writer added. “Who doesn’t agree with that? What kind of person thinks that what’s going on now in Gaza is acceptable?”

More than 1,000 Jewish creatives and professionals working in Hollywood have signed an open letter criticizing Glazer’s words. “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,” the group statement reads.

One of Glazer’s colleagues, Danny Cohen, who worked as an executive producer on The Zone of Interest, has said he “fundamentally” disagrees with the director’s speech.

Elsewhere in Kushner’s interview, he said the people he knows who are “passionately involved in calls for a ceasefire” are not antisemitic but rather focused on saving lives.

“Their interest is not in destroying Israel, and certainly their interest is not in pogroms against Jews elsewhere,” Kushner said. “What they’re really interested in—and the passion and the rage that you’re seeing—is because thousands of lives are at stake. Tens of thousands. Millions of lives are at stake. And because before our eyes, what really looks a lot like ethnic cleansing to me is going on.”

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