Tony Kushner Backs Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech: ‘Looks a Lot Like Ethnic Cleansing to Me’

Four-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner has come out in support of “The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars acceptance speech. In an interview with the “Haaretz Podcast,” Kushner said the ongoing violence in Gaza “looks a lot like ethnic cleansing to me.”

Kushner also affirmed he agreed with Glazer’s comments at the Oscars and explained, “What [Glazer’s] saying is so, is so simple. He’s saying Jewishness, Jewish identity, Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, the history of Jewish suffering must not be used as an excuse for a project of dehumanizing or slaughtering other people.”

“This is a misappropriation of, of what it means to be a Jew, what the Holocaust meant, and he rejects that. Who doesn’t agree with that?”

Glazer, he said, made a “really sort of unimpeachable irrefutable statement.”

Glazer has been both celebrated and criticized for his speech. While accepting the award for Best International Feature Film, he said in part, “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.”

“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.

On Friday “The Zone of Interest” executive producer Danny Cohen publicly said he disagreed with what Glazer had to say. In an interview with the “Unholy” podcast, Cohen explained, “It’s really important to recognize it’s upset a lot of people and a lot of people feel upset and angry about it. And I understand that anger, frankly.”

“The war and the continuation of the war is the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization which continues to hold and abuse the hostages, which doesn’t use its tunnels to protect the innocent civilians of Gaza but uses it to hide themselves and allow Palestinians to die,” Cohen added. “I think the war is tragic and awful and the loss of civilian life is awful, but I blame Hamas for that.”

Two days later, “Son of Saul” director László Nemes also voiced his disappointment in Glazer. “‘The Zone of Interest’ is an important movie. It is not made in a usual way. It questions the grammar of cinema. Its director should have stayed silent instead of revealing he has no understanding of history and the forces undoing civilization, before or after the Holocaust,” Nemes told The Guardian.

“Had he embraced the responsibility that comes with a film like that, he would not have resorted to talking points disseminated by propaganda meant to eradicate, at the end, all Jewish presence from the Earth.”

The “Haaretz Podcast” is a weekly podcast in English that is produced in Israel by the country’s oldest daily newspaper. It is hosted by Allison Kaplan Sommer.

Listen to the interview with Kushner here.

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