'Unquestionable and irrefutable': US playwright Tony Kushner praises Jonathan Glazer's Oscars speech | film

Playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner defended director Jonathan Glazer, whose speech at the Oscars nearly two weeks ago continues to polarize opinion.

Glazer took home his award for Best Foreign Language Film on March 10, tying his film “Area of ​​Interest” to current events in the Middle East.

He said he hoped his film, which shows the home lives of Rudolf and Hedwig Höss outside the walls of Auschwitz, where he was the camp commandant, would show “where dehumanization, at its worst, leads.” It has shaped all of our past and present.”

Standing on stage with producer James Wilson and financier Len Blavatnik, Glazer continued:

We stand here now as men refuting their Judaism and the Holocaust, which has been hijacked by the occupation, resulting in the struggle of many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all victims of this dehumanization – how do we resist?”

Kushner, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play “Angels in America” ​​and has collaborated with Steven Spielberg on four films including 2022's “The Fabelmans,” was a guest on Monday's edition of Israeli newspaper Haaretz's podcast.

Asked if he was sympathetic to the speech, Kushner said: “Of course.” I mean, who doesn't? What he is saying is very simple. He says: Judaism, Jewish identity, Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, the history of Jewish suffering must not be used in a campaign — as an excuse for the project of dehumanizing or slaughtering others.

“This is a misappropriation of what it means to be Jewish, what the Holocaust means, and,” Kushner continued [Glazer] He refuses it. Who doesn't agree with that? What kind of person thinks that what is happening now in Gaza is acceptable?”

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Kushner, who is Jewish, told The Guardian he was proud that The Fabelmans – based on Spielberg's early life – sought to denounce anti-Semitism in the United States. “It's always great to say that anti-Semitism is abhorrent,” he said.[It] It has a history of infamy like no other, and if you play with it, if you tolerate its existence, you will be led to a terrible place, because fascism and tyranny are incredibly boring movements that every time they reorganize and explode, they will follow the same tropes over and over again.

“They don't have huge imaginary weapons, and anti-Semitism has always been there for centuries, so if anyone starts sounding like they're anti-Semitic, it's over, disavowed, that's it, don't make common cause with them.”

Kushner has repeatedly spoken about the conflict in the Middle East. In 2011, the City University of New York reversed its decision to deny the playwright an honorary degree on the grounds that he was not sufficiently pro-Israel.

The fallout from Glazer's speech, which was met with enthusiasm at the Dolby Theater, began early the following week, when he was condemned by the American Holocaust Survivors Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which said his statements “justified terrorism.”

However, vocal supporters of Glazer, including directors like Boots Riley, Zoe Kazan, and Asif Kapadia, were quick to defend him, with Kapadia tells Variety: “He stood up and told the truth. That's what real artists do.”

At the same time A Editorial in Haaretz He argued that Glazer was right, while the director of the Auschwitz Memorial also defended him, saying that “Glazer issued a global moral warning against dehumanization.”

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Dr. Piotr MA Cywiński continued: “His goal was not to descend to the level of political discourse. Critics who expected a clear political stance or a film limited to genocide did not understand the depth of its message.”

Later in the week, The Zone of Interest's executive producer, Danny Cohen, broke down the arrangement and told the Unholy podcast that he “fundamentally disagrees.”[d]“In Glazer’s words. On Friday, Laszlo Nemes, who also won a foreign-language Oscar for a film set in Auschwitz near the end of the war, 2015’s Son of Saul, told The Guardian Glazer: “He should have stayed silent instead of… Revealing that he does not understand history and “the forces that destroy civilization, before or after the Holocaust.”

Al-Nims continued: “If he had taken the responsibility that comes with a film like this, he would not have resorted to the talking points spread by propaganda that ultimately aims to eliminate all Jewish presence from the Earth.”

On Monday, Spielberg's sister, Laura Spielberg, was one of about 450 Jewish creatives who signed an open letter condemning Glazer's speech and criticizing what they saw as “drawing a moral equivalence between the Nazi regime, which sought to exterminate a race of people, and the Nazi regime, which sought to exterminate a race of people.” the people”. An Israeli nation seeks to avoid its annihilation.”

By Tuesday, about 700 additional names had signed the letter, which also objected to Glazer's use of words like “occupation” to describe an indigenous Jewish people defending a homeland that dates back thousands of years and has been recognized as a state by the United Nations. [which] It distorts history.”

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The Guardian has contacted Glazer and Spielberg for comment.

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