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In Israel’s Time of Need, Jewish Hollywood Has Failed the Audition

The list of celebrity Jews who have said nothing is truly shocking. Fearless in front of the camera, ferocious at the negotiating table, but cowering when it comes to moral courage.
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December 17, 2023
Mario Tama/Getty Images; gustavofrazao/Deposit Photos

For a people that purportedly invented, and now control, Hollywood, Jews are awful at making demands—as Jews. There’s a reason why those early nickelodeons featured silent cowboy-westerns and scant Jewish immigrants. Jewish invisibility continued into the talkie era—more cowboys, wicked witches, tap dancers in gowns and tuxedos, a gin joint in Casablanca, and, yes, one Jewish jazz singer. Jewish characters didn’t only find themselves left out of the picture, they weren’t even on the cutting room floor. And as for silence, well, . . . that’s a Jewish specialty when it comes to standing up for their own people.

Antisemitism has overtaken America in ways not seen since the 1930s, when Hitler was ascending in Europe and the Depression caused pernicious divisions within the United States. The Jewish influence in Hollywood was never greater among studio chieftains and writers back then, but the motion picture industry had nothing to say about Hitler’s plan for European Jewry.

Some studio heads still had families in Europe. And they were at the helm of the ultimate megaphones and spotlights. But there was no golden hour for the Holocaust. Hollywood’s cameras were dark. The Third Reich was the second largest market for movies in the world—and foreign sales, in industry speak, is the Golden Calf. It wasn’t until Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” (1940), as Auschwitz was beginning to burn, that Hollywood realized that the number of Jewish actors and extras in the world was rapidly shrinking.

And Chaplin wasn’t Jewish!

There’s a sequel to this sad story playing out all over again, an even more inexplicable example of how La La Land goes all blah blah rather raise the red flag for Jews. In the aftermath of the October 7th massacre in Southern Israel, which included the most gruesome and unimaginable of all horror flicks—the beheading and baking of Jewish babies, and the gang raping and mutilation of Israeli teenagers—sympathy for Israel evaporated before it even started. Instead, there was the surreal solidarity with Hamas. The victims were thrust into the woke paradigm as oppressors; and the terrorists were reincarnated as the resistance.

What?

This was especially true of Jewish Hollywood. It seems that standing on the side of the lone democracy in the Middle East, a nation that does not torch its homosexuals or dismember its wives, presents a public relations dilemma. Apparently only two American Jews in the entertainment industry, Debra Messing and Julianna Margulies, were brave enough to speak out forcefully and unequivocally in support of Israel and denounce Hamas.

Meanwhile, overt acts of violent antisemitism have proliferated on college campuses and the public square. The lighting of Christmas trees and Menorahs became occasions to condemn Israel and glorify Hamas.

Hamas hides in tunnels, but many Jews in the Diaspora went underground, too. Jewish students were forced to take classes virtually. Jews are afraid to walk the streets lest they collide into a mob of masked Muslims.

So much for the free exercise of religion. Kippot and Stars of David are tucked away in sock drawers. Big city mayors and Ivy League presidents simply won’t protect Jews. Apparently, calling for their mass murder is neither alarming nor unlawful.

The list of celebrity Jews who have said nothing is truly shocking. Fearless in front of the camera, ferocious at the negotiating table, but cowering when it comes to moral courage. Even the Writer’s Guild of America West drew a blank when it came to denouncing Hamas.

To her much-deserved credit, the actual wonder woman, Gal Gadot, a former officer and combat instructor in the IDF, organized a film screening in Los Angeles where graphic images and visual evidence of Hamas’ handiwork was openly displayed for those who despicably refused to “Believe Survivors,” pursuant to the #MeToo mantra.

The Mount Olympus of Jewish Hollywood was especially spineless. It took Steven Spielberg two months to finally speak out, announcing that the testimonies of the October 7 survivors will be added to his Shoah Foundation archive, alongside interviews with Holocaust survivors.

What about the existential war Israel is waging, and the diplomatic pressure it faces? Apparently, the man who gave cinematic life to aliens and dinosaurs is unable to identify barbarians. Israel’s enemies are real; they kill without special effects and CGI. This is the downside of spending all your time making movie magic: not everything is imaginary.

And, finally, Barbra Streisand weighed in this week in a manner so morally obtuse and politically naïve, one can only conclude that her voice should be reserved for singing. Now is not the time to rehash the banality of the “two-state solution.” People on the streets are calling for a globalized intifada, a “River to the Sea” finality. What movie is Streisand watching?

I understand: publicists, many of whom are Jewish, are advising clients that supporting Israel may be perceived as racist. Taking a stand in defense of the Jewish state might result in forfeiting a backlot bungalow or jeopardizing a three-picture deal.

Maybe, but how can you live with yourself?

So, for anyone in the entertainment industry who still has a soul and maintains a massive social media following, instead of posting narcissistic inanities, consider this:

Now is the time to be proud of your Jewish nose. Now is the time to hang a mezuzah on your doorpost. Now is the time to interrupt conversations where a moronic social justice warrior libels Israel as an apartheid state. Now is the time to withhold checks to universities that see Jewish students as legitimate targets of the “resistance.”

Now is the time to do more reading about the Middle East and Israel’s place in it. Now is the time to determine whether your local elected officials are backing America’s ally rather than the enemies of liberalism, free speech, open inquiry, feminism, gay rights, the rule of law, and the very concept of western civilization, itself.

Now is the time to emulate Jewish celebrities like Bill Maher, a liberal Democrat who isn’t afraid to speak the truth about the barbarians at Israel’s gate.

Now is the time to let philosemites like Jon Voight and Paul McCartney know how much you appreciate them.

And Adam Sandler: It’s time for a new Hanukkah song.

We’re ready for your screen test, Hollywood. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, might be over, but don’t let it go dark.


Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro University, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. He is the legal analyst for CBS News Radio. His most recent book is titled “Saving Free Speech … From Itself.” 

 

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