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WGA West Apologizes for ‘Tremendous Pain’ Caused by Silence on Israel Attack, Finally Condemns ‘Atrocities Committed by Hamas’

The Writers Guild of America West’s officers have spoken out against the Hamas terror attacks, following weeks of maintaining a controversial group silence. In an email sent to members on Tuesday morning, which TheWrap has obtained, the guild’s officers stated, “All of us in Guild leadership are horrified by the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th.” The statement was signed by President Meredith Stiehm, VP Michele Mulroney and Secretary-Treasurer Betsy Thomas.

The Hamas strikes against Israel left over 1,400 dead with hundreds taken hostage. Israel responded by hitting Gaza repeatedly with heavy airstrike bombardments that have left thousands killed and plunged the region into chaos.

“The murder of so many innocent people in Israel is an abomination,” the WGA leaders further noted Tuesday. “We deeply mourn the deaths of innocent Palestinians ensnared in the violence in Gaza. We feel for all our members who have been affected, directly and indirectly. We hope that wisdom prevails in the region – and for the safety of all innocent people caught in the escalating violence.”

As previously reported by TheWrap, the WGA board was divided over how to respond to the violence that sparked a war between Israel and Hamas, with civilians on both sides caught in the crossfire. According to a memo sent Saturday by WGA West Coast president Meredith Stiehm, “we found consensus out of reach.”

However, the Screenwriters Guild of Israel found WGA’s silence comparatively deafening.

“Your silence is loud and clear and completely contrasted by the loud support demanded from the SGI and their members just a few weeks ago,” the sister guild said in a statement released on Monday.

Hollywood screenwriters — including Jenji Kohan, Jerry Seinfeld, Eli Roth and Amy Sherman-Palladino — sent an open letter to the WGA board on Oct. 15 calling them out for not speaking up to support Israel.

This followed a previous open letter on Oct. 12 signed by the likes of Gal Gadot, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Pine, Mayim Bialik, Liev Schreiber, Amy Schumer and Michael Douglas, from the nonprofit organization Creative Community for Peace. That declaration supported Israel and condemned the Hamas attack on the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles issued its own condemnation of the WGA’s silence, one which noted the various other politically sensitive issues about which the WGA has recently spoken out.

The full WGA West letter is below:

Dear Members,

The Guild’s decision not to issue a statement on the events of October 7th has caused pain within our membership that we did not intend. We believe it is important to both explain our process and to attempt to rectify the situation, as well as to unequivocally state that antisemitism and Islamophobia have no place in this Guild.

In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas attacks, we did not issue a public statement, not because we were not horrified by the atrocities, but because it felt outside the purview of a U.S. labor union representing writers to comment on it. This was and is a difficult balance to strike. We have, as a Guild, made statements on other occasions, which could be characterized as beyond our scope and want to offer some transparency here about our thinking. Those instances fell mainly under the umbrella of defending social justice in the U.S. or freedom of expression, and where possible, were connected back to writers’ working lives. But the list of national and international tragedies we have not commented on is large. We did not, for example, make a comment after Russia invaded Ukraine, nor on terrorist attacks in Somalia, Pakistan or elsewhere. It can be an imprecise science for a labor union to pick and choose where it weighs in on both domestic and world affairs.

Our board is diverse in its membership and points of view. The opinions from the board about whether to put out a statement did not fall along religious or sectarian lines and mirrored what we have seen play out in our membership as a whole and in the broader community. When we made the difficult choice not to make a statement, it was not because we are paralyzed by factionalism or masking hateful views. We are American labor leaders, aware of our limitations and humbled by the magnitude of this conflict. However, we understand this has caused tremendous pain and for that we are truly sorry.

All of us in Guild leadership are horrified by the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th. The murder of so many innocent people in Israel is an abomination. We deeply mourn the deaths of innocent Palestinians ensnared in the violence in Gaza. We feel for all our members who have been affected, directly and indirectly. We hope that wisdom prevails in the region – and for the safety of all innocent people caught in the escalating violence.

As we move forward, we ask everyone to treat each other with respect and patience in this horrible time. What any of us write and say should not put writers in peril with each other. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us.

None of this, of course, has any effect on the Israeli and Palestinian people. What they need from us is not an expression of our anger and distrust toward each other, but a shared commitment to peace and the value of every human life.

In solidarity,

Meredith Stiehm, President
Michele Mulroney, Vice President
Betsy Thomas, Secretary-Treasurer

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