Advertisement

Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech Refuting Jewishness Prompts a Whirlwind of Backlash

Though “Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer was met with applause for his speech at the 2024 Oscars, some online haven’t been quite so supportive. Many viewers were rankled by Glazer’s speech referencing the Israel-Hamas war, in which he said he refutes his “Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many people.” The speech was called “absolutely disgusting” and “disappointing” by some, leading to a spiral of outrage and then later outrage against that outrage.

“All of our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present, not to say look what they did then, rather look what we do now. Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It’s shaped all of our past and present,” Glazer said during his acceptance speech Sunday night.

“Zone of Interest,” the Oscar winner for Best International Picture, is loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis, which itself was based on real events. It follows the mundane daily lives of Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss and his family, who live in their idyllic home next to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“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. Whether the victims of Oct. 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all are victims of this dehumanization. How do we resist?” Glazer continued in his speech.

It’s Glazer’s comments about refuting Jewishness that has caused the greatest amount of controversy. Todd Richman, the co-chair of the Democratic Majority for Israel, called the speech “disappointing,” adding, “Whether you realize it or not, you just insinuated that Israel is a byproduct of the Holocaust.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach praised Glazer’s Holocaust movie as “incredible” but called him a “fool” for his speech. The author and religious leader went on to say that Glazer “betrayed his people and disgraced himself and trivialized the 6 million martyrs of the Holocaust when he said that Israel’s War in Gaza was hijacking the memory of the Holocaust.”

Though many have spoken out against Glazer’s speech, many more have stepped in to defend him against the backlash and to ensure his quotes are understood in context. Monica Marks, a professor of Middle East politics for NYU Abu Dubai, broke down the controversy in depth, emphasizing that the director’s “key point” was that “Glazer & his team don’t want the Holocaust or their Jewishness, which they clearly care about deeply (hence their making of this very film) used & abused to justify abusing others.”

MSNBC host Chris Hayes weighed in to make sure X users had understood Glazer’s full quote. Another X user dubbed the way Glazer’s comments have been taken out of context as “almost surreal.” Still another called the “twist” of Glazer’s words “absolutely sick.”

One user noted that over 12 hours after the Oscars aired, the Academy Awards has yet to upload Glazer’s speech to its YouTube channel, but that’s a licensing issue more than anything else. An insider familiar with the distribution agreement between ABC and The Oscars told TheWrap that ABC has the exclusive clip rights to a pre-determined list of 10 categories, one of which is International Feature Film. A clip of the acceptance speech is currently available on ABC’s YouTube page as well as Oscar.com and ABC.com.

Following a 30-day agreement window, The Academy will be able to post all of these ABC-exclusive videos on their platforms.

Representatives for Glazer did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The director dedicated his Oscar win to Aleksandra Bystroń-Kołodziejczyk, the Polish World War II resistance worker and witness to the Holocaust who inspired the film. “I dedicate this to her memory and her resistance,” Glazer said.

The post Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech Refuting Jewishness Prompts a Whirlwind of Backlash appeared first on TheWrap.