At His Oscar Moment, Jonathan Glazer Hijacks His Jewishness and the Holocaust

Given that he was reading prepared remarks, one would think that he would choose his words, or at least his vocabulary, more carefully.
March 11, 2024
Jonathan Glazer accepts the Best International Feature Film award for “The Zone of Interest” onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“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,” filmmaker Jonathan Glazer said last night at the end of his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. In front of a global audience, Glazer, the director of the best international feature for “The Zone of Interest,” a drama set in Auschwitz, caused quite a stir by injecting his Jewishness and the Holocaust during his moment of glory.

But did he check with his dictionary first? “Refute” means to “disprove.” What does it mean to disprove your Jewishness? That the Jewishness is false? Which part?

Or was he trying to say that he is against his Jewishness being hijacked in addition to the Holocaust? If that’s the case (and it looks like it is), he could easily have made that connection clear by writing “who refute (or refuse to accept) that both our Jewishness and the Holocaust are being hijacked…”

Given that he was reading prepared remarks, one would think that he would choose his words, or at least his vocabulary, more carefully.

Clumsy syntax aside, however, either version is reckless. How is the Holocaust “being hijacked by an occupation?” How can one dare to compare the deliberate murder of six million Jews with a territorial dispute rooted in the Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state under any borders and its virulent hatred of Jews?

And if his point was that his Jewishness is also being hijacked by the occupation, what does that even mean? That Israel’s actions, such as the war in Gaza, have so shamed him as to strip him of his Jewishness? There was no Israeli occupation of Gaza when Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7; there was a ceasefire. Is Glazer blaming Israel for the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust?

Evidently, the only person who did the hijacking at the Oscars was Glazer himself. Maybe he hijacked his Jewishness and the Holocaust to come across as some kind of noble, universalist champion of human rights willing to take on his own people.

Or maybe he simply can’t stand to see powerful Jews defending themselves, unlike the helpless, invisible Jews in Auschwitz who went to their slaughter and helped Glazer win an Oscar.

In any case, Glazer’s irresponsible hijacking triggered an avalanche of outrage from Jews fighting back.

“It’s disgusting to see that when the director of a Holocaust movie wins an award, he uses his platform to denounce his own Jewishness and co-opt the tragedy of the holocaust for his own political cause,” Ari Ingel, Executive Director of Creative Community for Peace, said in a typical example of the reaction.

Personally, my biggest outrage was reserved for Glazer’s follow-up remark:

“Whether the victims of October 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization—how do we resist?”

Note that when he refers to the 1200 Israelis who were murdered, mutilated, raped, beheaded and burned alive, he only uses the passive phrase, “the victims.” But when he refers to Israel’s forced retaliation to prevent another Oct. 7, suddenly it’s an ATTACK.

Hamas terrorists create victims, while Jewish defenders commit attacks.

Glazer couldn’t even bring himself to mention the more than 100 terrified hostages who’ve been in the cruel hands of the Hamas murderers since Oct. 7. Are they not dehumanized enough to bring up?

One wonders how long it took Glazer to prepare a message that was equally perplexing and libelous. But now that he’s seen the backlash, will he try to clarify his remarks or will he double down? Does he realize how his assault on Israel will play at a time when Jews are under siege and antisemitism is reaching record levels?

The good news is that the Jews of today are not the Jews of Auschwitz. We’re not silent. We’re not invisible. If Glazer had the chutzpah to publicly punch us in the face, we have the chutzpah to publicly punch back and refute him.

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