I Refute His Oscar

Jonathan Glazer onstage after receiving Oscar for "The Zone of Interest" (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
March 11, 2024

The 2024 Oscars were innovative in one way: They surfaced, made public, and made a talking point out of a kind of behavior inside a minority group that is usually left for enraged discussion within the group’s very small tent. I’m talking about self-hating Jewish anti-Semitism—or what should more accurately be called "onanistic Jewish anti-Semitism," since it isn’t self-hating so much as it is an act of masturbatory gratification in the guise of pained self-reflection.

One place you don’t expect to find self-hating Jewish anti-Semitism is the Oscars. Self-hating Jews, sure—I mean, I hate to reveal state secrets, but there’s a lot of us who behave badly when it comes to showing proper respect for our faith and traditions. And since people in show business often behave badly, it makes sense that Jews in show business behave badly too. But they usually keep their self-hatred to themselves, and often celebrate documentary short subjects about Holocaust survivors and very old Jews in nursing homes to prove they have some fellow feeling.

How about anti-Semitism? Well, it has happened, though famously only once. Nearly 50 years ago, Vanessa Redgrave made a vile reference to "Zionist hoodlums" as she so graciously accepted her Academy Award for playing a person almost entirely made up by the Communist liar Lillian Hellman and put on screen in the film Julia.

She was mad because a few people had dared protest her presence as a full-fledged supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Since she couldn’t have them blown up or thrown into a gulag—Vanessa never met a gulag she didn’t like—she could only attack them from the Academy stage. The writer Paddy Chayefsky came out later and spoke the greatest sentence in the history of the Oscars: "I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple ‘Thank you’ would’ve sufficed." No one ever let her back up on that stage again.

Come on, you might protest. She may be a disgusting person but she’s a great actress, and we’re supposed to separate the art from the artist, right?

Fine. You go first.

But what do we need Vanessa Redgrave for? She’s just a classic version of the Gentile anti-Semite—an upper middle class British twit who became obsessed with radical politics under the tutelage of Bertrand Russell rather than the small yappy dogs that often consume people like her.

We just needed to wait until March 10, 2024, when uneducated but talented morons like Billie Eilish, who can’t decide whether she’s gay or straight or a vegan or a meat eater and sings like she’s attached to an oxygen tank, went to the Oscars bearing buttons expressing their support for a "ceasefire" in an area Billie couldn’t find on a map, if she’s ever seen a map. The design of said button, by the way, deliberately evokes a Palestinian terrorist who held up his blood-drenched hands after massacring two IDF reservists in Ramallah nearly 25 years ago.

A bunch of people wore that button. So basically they were celebrating the slaughter of two Israelis. Congratulations, you amoral buffoons who can’t even bother to do five seconds of research on the iPhones you use to continue to self-moderate your "social." You figuratively have blood on your hands now. Happy?

So let’s get back to the category I started with: "Self-hating Jewish anti-Semitism." Its expression provided the only memorable moment at the Oscars, after the International Feature award went to the British-Jewish Jonathan Glazer. His movie, The Zone of Interest, is literally set next door to Auschwitz and (I haven’t seen it) makes clear the horrors going on merely through the sounds that travel across the wall between the commandant’s house and the death camp.

One could say The Zone of Interest win was the Oscar way in 2024 to punch the Holocaust card, and boy did Glazer punch it. Standing aside his two producers (one of them an oligarch named Len Blavatnik), and visibly trembling with what appeared to be terror, he took out a piece of paper and read out:

"Our film shows where dehumanization leads, at its worst. It 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 October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?"

We can, if we wish, debate the meaning of this poorly written set of sentences for a couple of seconds, or until there’s another anti-Semitic attack somewhere that is the direct result of October 7th, whichever comes first—and guess which will come first. Any way you look at it, it’s disgusting.

First, let’s take it literally and take it to mean Glazer and his producers "refute their Jewishness." Obviously this is bad, because they are refuting their Jewishness as they accept an award for a movie about the effort made 80 years ago to destroy all Jewishness. Anti-Semites are falling all over themselves to defend Glazer from the charge that he has "refuted his Jewishness." Rather, they say, he refutes that Jewishness offers a defense for Israeli actions after October 7, or for the "occupation," or for whatever argle-bargle these putrid preachers of self-satisfied vanity decide is the "root cause" of things they don’t like.

His defenders include such notable champions of Zion as the former Bernie Sanders aide cum Koch-funded scholar Matt Duss once pictured posing in a Hamas tunnel, Mehdi Hasan, the recently axed MSNBC host and Hamas apologist, the Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid, and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, a onetime radical magazine journalist who turned out to be winsome on TV, to his immense good fortune. One of his qualities is that he loathes Israel almost as much as he loves his $5 million salary paid by the Robertses, the Jewish family that owns Comcast. It’s blood money, Chris! Give it back! Otherwise it might get into the hands of occupiers!

Hayes should know to stay out of this. Like, don’t opine on what is and what isn’t anti-Semitic, smart boy, especially after hosting Al Sharpton for years on your show, whose contributions to Jewish refutation have included rallying people against a business in Harlem that was then set on fire by one of Sharpton’s fan boys, killing seven people while Sharpton continued to skate through life by scaring Democratic politicians and eating their souls rather than the fatty foods that used to define his rotund shape.

Not to mention you can refute your Jewishness all you like, Glazer, but if a terrorist arrived at a Golders Green synagogue where your nephew was becoming bar mitzvah and decided to bomb the place, you’d be as dead as you would have been had you not "refuted" it. This is the problem: They want to kill Jews. You’re a Jew. They want to kill you. Your refutation is immaterial.

Which is to say, the issue is not whether Glazer is comfortable with his status as a Jew but rather that he is living a life of existential risk after October 7 because of it. And he should know this all better than anyone, since his movie is about how merely to be a Jew is to be subject to efforts at mass extermination.

It is the story of Jewry since the very beginning: Can this small tribe survive the world’s efforts to do it in? And how are we to understand the unimaginable miracle that it has not only survived but has returned to its homeland and turned a subsistence-level desert life into the world’s 27th wealthiest nation?

Ah, but there’s the rub for Jonathan Glazer. He doesn’t like that country, apparently. It’s a country of "occupation," and it "dehumanizes" the other apparently just as the Nazis dehumanized the Jews. Forget for the thousandth time that Israel hasn’t "occupied" Gaza since 2005, and what it’s doing now is not an "occupation"—it’s a war in which it is hunting down the enemy army of Hamas in order to destroy it.

That’s not "dehumanizing." It’s something else. It’s no more dehumanizing than the destruction of Germany to get rid of the Nazis, which I assume Jonathan Glazer supports in theory, as without it, he wouldn’t have the Oscar he can shove right up his ass forever.

Oh, it’s good Oppenheimer won, even though the real Oppenheimer was a Communist.