Dan Gordon, the screenwriter of “The Hurricane” and “Wyatt Earp,” resigned from the Writers Guild of America on Tuesday over the guild’s silence on the Hamas attacks on Israel.
A 56-year member of the union, Gordon is also a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces. He grew up in Israel and the U.S., and holds citizenship in both countries and in Canada.
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He wrote a letter to WGA West leadership on Tuesday saying he will elect “financial core” status. In an interview, he noted that the guild had previously taken stands in support of Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement, and that its refusal to condemn the Hamas attacks is “appalling.”
“We had no trouble, as we should not have had, weighing in after George Floyd was killed. We had no problem, as we should not have had, weighing in on the #MeToo movement. No one said at the time, ‘I don’t want to offend Bill Cosby,'” he said. “And yet you’re witness to nothing less than the worst slaughter of Jews since Nazi Germany and you can’t find a word to say to condemn it.”
Writers who opt for “fi-core” status cannot vote in WGA elections, participate in awards, or enjoy other benefits of membership. They still pay a reduced dues rate and work under the same economic terms as apply to guild members. The guild does not allow members to rejoin after they elect “fi-core” status.
The Hamas attack on Oct. 7 killed more than 1,400 people. In the days following the attack, many celebrities and entertainment industry institutions — including the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA — issued statements denouncing the attacks.
The WGA, however, opted to remain silent. In a lengthy apology on Tuesday, the leadership of WGA West explained that they drew a distinction between domestic social justice issues — which they have spoken out on — and international tragedies, which they generally have not.
“We are American labor leaders, aware of our limitations and humbled by the magnitude of this conflict,” the leaders stated. “However, we understand this has caused tremendous pain and for that we are truly sorry.”
Gordon said the WGA has a moral duty to speak out.
“We’re not the union of pipefitters. We’re not the plumbers union,” he said. “We’re the Writers Guild. We stood up to McCarthyism. We stood up to fascism. It’s part of our job to bear witness.”
Some 383 writers have signed an open letter condemning the attacks and blasting the WGA for failing to issue a statement.
On the other hand, more than 300 members of the WGA, SAG-AFTRA and DGA have urged the guilds to reject pressure to issue a statement, which could be seen as endorsing Israel’s response to the attacks.
“While we fully appreciate the diversity of opinions within our guilds, we firmly believe that if our guilds release such statements, they must be rooted in a deep commitment to justice and human rights FOR ALL,” the group stated in its open letter.
The signatories opted to use initials, rather than their full names, as the organizers said they feared losing their jobs or being blacklisted for their stance.
Gordon’s letter of resignation from the WGA West follows.
October 24, 2023
To Patrick Cannon
CC Ellen Stutzman
Notice of Objection – Election of Financial Core Status
With great sadness I hereby resign my membership in the WGAw and elect financial core status. Accordingly, please notify me of the portion of dues owing and when it is due.
I have been a member of the Writers Guild of America west for 56 years. Lest anyone think I am no longer an active writer I will have had four feature films premiere this year including Irena’s Vow, the story of a 20-year-old Polish Catholic girl who hid twelve Jews in the basement of a German major’s house without his knowledge for almost a year during World War II. Her selfless courage and moral clarity saved them all.
On October 7th, Jewish men, women and children ranging in age from nine months to ninety years were slaughtered, raped, decapitated and burnt alive, while hiding, like Anna Frank, from ISIS-like terrorists who subscribe to a fanatical ideology no less explicit in its genocidal intent toward the Jewish people than that of Nazi Germany. This is from the Hamas covenant: “Judgement day will not come until Muslims fight Jews and kill them, when the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out ‘O Moslem, O Servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’”
What about that ideology is unclear?
The failure of the Guild’s leadership to issue even the mildest condemnation of the worst massacre of a religious minority in the Middle East since ISIS carried out similar atrocities against the Yezidis is appalling. It is corrosive to me as a writer and repugnant to every fiber of my being as a person of conscience.
I am resigning my membership not because I wish to work on non union projects nor cross any picket line, but because I no longer wish to be a fellow traveller with those who hide behind the fetid veil of a morally bankrupt wokeism and stand silent in the face of unadulterated evil.
Screenwriter – The Hurricane (Denzel Washington), Wyatt Earp (Kevin Costner), Murder in The First (Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon), Irena’s Vow (Sophie Nelisse)
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