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Motion Picture Academy Museum Fixes Its Problem of Excluding Jews By Demonizing Them

Outside the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Photo: Josh White, JWPictures/©Academy Museum Foundation.

On September 30, 2021, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences (the organization best known for its annual Oscars ceremony) finally opened their long-awaited museum, aptly named the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

The museum’s website describes it as “the largest museum in the United States devoted to the arts, sciences and artists of moviemaking,” which “offers exceptional exhibitions and programs that illuminate the world of cinema … through a variety of diverse and engaging voices.”

But there was one voice that was conspicuously absent: that of the Jewish immigrants who founded, and some would say created, Hollywood.

This glaring omission was widely noticed at the time of the museum’s opening. John Goldwyn, the grandson of Hollywood founding father Samuel Goldwyn (the “G” in “MGM”) declined to attend the opening. He was quoted at the time in a Hollywood Reporter article saying, “If you’re going to have a museum in Los Angeles tied to the Academy that celebrates arguably the most significant art form of the 20th century, how is it possible not to acknowledge the Jewish men who started it all? … It’s an egregious oversight.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who did attend the opening, told Rolling Stone, “As I walked through, I literally turned to the person I was there with and said to him, ‘Where are the Jews?’”

To its credit, the Museum sought to remedy this oversight. That is the charitable interpretation.

The less charitable version is that they were pressured into doing something they had purposefully chosen not to do. Either way, on May 19th of this year, the Museum opened a new permanent exhibit titled “Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital.” Sounds great, right?

The somewhat small exhibit (the smallest of any exhibit in the museum) includes a brief documentary film, a hi-tech relief map of Hollywood, and a series of panels with biographical information about the Jewish men who built Hollywood and the studios they created.

Here is a sampling of that biographical information. Jack Warner was a “womanizer” and was “frugal.” Carl Laemmle was known for “nepotism.” Harry Cohen was “a tyrant and a predator.” The studio system created by these Jewish founders represented “a period of oppressive control” and these Jewish men were responsible for “the prejudices” of their studios and their movies.

I assume, because the exhibit provides no context, details, or examples, that words like “oppressive” and “tyrant” refer to the very controlling, top-down management style employed by these Jewish moguls.

Such a management style may be unpleasant for some to work under; it may be either effective or ineffective from a business standpoint (and given the studios’ success, I would argue it was very effective). But it is not inherently immoral, as the use of the words “oppressive” and “tyrant” would seek to imply.

The panel featuring Warner Bros. includes a paragraph describing one of the studio’s films, The Jazz Singer. It is the only film featured in this manner in any of these studio descriptions. The brief paragraph ends with the claim that The Jazz Singer invoked “a popular symbol of racial oppression [i.e. blackface] that further harms another marginalized group.”

The documentary that is part of the exhibit builds upon this theme of discrimination: “Hollywood films of [the era of these Jewish moguls] generally excluded, stereotyped or vilified people of color and LGBT+ characters and perpetuated ableism and sexism with rare exceptions. In Hollywood, to become American was to adopt and reflect oppressive beliefs and representations.”

It is true that the United States of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s was a very different place, in terms of equality, inclusion and representation, than it is today. But was this really the fault of Jewish movie moguls? Why pound this point home in the one section of the museum supposedly dedicated to their accomplishments and contributions? After all, the movie The Jazz Singer did not invent Al Jolson’s blackface character; he had been performing it on stages across the country for many years and to great acclaim.

An exploration of the history of racism and sexism in Hollywood could be a perfectly valid topic for the museum to explore. Was it necessary to make it part of the exhibit on Jewish contributions?

The exhibit’s display includes a section describing the origins of United Artists, a studio formed in defiance of the Jewish-run studios. It mentions DW Griffith among its non-Jewish founders, but does not mention Griffith’s film Birth of A Nation (originally titled “The Clansman”), arguably the most racist film in the history of American cinema.

Why does Warner’s The Jazz Singer receive an entire paragraph but not Griffith’s Birth of A Nation? Because The Jazz Singer was produced by Jews?

The Museum’s mission statement, published on its website, includes the following goal: “The Academy Museum tells complete stories of moviemaking — celebratory, educational, and sometimes critical or uncomfortable.”

The “Jewish Founders” exhibit definitely falls under the heading of “sometimes critical or uncomfortable.” I was curious to find what other displays or exhibits could similarly be described. It was very difficult to find any. There are numerous exhibits that celebrate the work of Hollywood actors, writers, directors, and producers. All of the subjects of these exhibits are praised in glowing terms and hailed for their artistry and accomplishments.

I found a picture celebrating an actor which did not include the fact that the actor had pled guilty to sexual assault. I found a panel praising a director that said nothing about the sexual harassment allegations that the director has faced. The museum has decided not to mention these facts, while calling Jack Warner a “womanizer” and Harry Cohn a “predator.”

Maybe I just missed it, but I found no place in the museum, other than the “Jewish Founders” exhibit, in which the biographies of those honored included personal details about their lives or characters that were negative or defamatory.

Where there were details in an exhibit that could be considered “critical or uncomfortable,” outside of the “Jewish Founders” exhibit, the person being celebrated by the museum was the victim, not the perpetrator.

There is, for example, an empty display case paying tribute to Hattie McDaniel, the first Black person to win an Academy Award.  The plaque discusses the racism she faced and the fact that she did not receive a statuette. Hence the empty display case.

There was a panel celebrating Black Lives Matter and The Black Panther Party, praising documentary films that “capture the determination of activists and their pursuit of universal human rights.”

A similar panel celebrates “the global #MeToo movement” and its exposing the “conditions that enable sexual exploitation in the workplace.”

So there are a few mentions, throughout the museum, of racism and sexism in the context of acknowledging those who have suffered from it and praising those who have combated it. But the only people the museum specifically charges with perpetrating racism and sexism are the Jews of the “Jewish Founders” exhibit.

To be clear, I do not claim that the Jewish moguls were without sin or above reproach. What I object to is the double standard that the museum employs in singling out Jews as the only ones called out for their sins.

Sadly, a common feature of modern antisemitism is the application of a different set of rules and standards to Jews from that which applies to everyone else.

We see this double standard in college hate-speech codes that don’t apply when Jews are harassed and threatened. We see it in criticism of Israel, the only nation accused of war crimes for unintended civilian deaths in a war it did not start. And now we can see it every day but Tuesday from 10am-6pm at the Academy Museum.

Michael Kaplan is a TV writer-producer, playwright, and children’s book author. For his TV work, he has been nominated for four Emmy Awards, winning one.

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Netanyahu Heads to DC After Biden Quits 2024 Race, Says Israel Will Remain ‘Strong’ US Ally Whoever Is in White House

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday departed for a highly anticipated trip to Washington, DC, where he will meet with US President Joe and Biden and deliver a speech before Congress this week as America grapples with the aftermath of Biden’s unprecedented decision to end his 2024 reelection campaign.

During his first trip to the US capital in almost four years, Netanyahu plans to visit the White House and also address US lawmakers on Wednesday. Netanyahu was originally expected to meet with Biden on Tuesday; however, several Hebrew media outlets reported that the meeting will likely be delayed due to Biden still being sick with COVID-19.

It is unclear how Biden’s shock decision on Sunday to drop out of the US presidential race will impact Netanyahu’s address to the US Congress. According to Israel’s Channel 13, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, a close confidant of Netanyahu, assured US officials that the speech will not include criticism of or against Biden following repeated requests by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan for information about what the Israeli premier will say.

Netanyahu issued a statement following Biden’s announcement indicating the Israeli premier will underline the importance of bipartisanship in maintaining a close US-Israel relationship.

“I will seek to anchor the bipartisan support that is so important for Israel. And I will tell my friends on both sides of the aisle [in Congress] that regardless of who the American people choose as their next president, Israel remains America’s indispensable and strong ally in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said while leaving Israel for Washington, DC. “In this time of war and uncertainty it’s important that Israel’s enemies know that America and Israel stand together today, tomorrow, and always.”

The Israeli premier also expressed gratitude to Biden, stating that he will thank the US president for helping the Jewish state as he prepares to exit the White House.

“I plan to see President Biden, whom I’ve known for over 40 years. This will be an opportunity to thank him for the things he did for Israel in the war and during his long and distinguished career in public service, as senator, as vice president, and as president,” Netanyahu said.

Amid declining support for Israel among US liberal Democratic lawmakers, Netanyahu hopes to use his congressional address and White House visit to mend relations with Democrats, who have become increasingly uneasy over Israel’s war effort against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

Biden has come under heavy fire from Republicans as well as pro-Israel Democrats for what they’ve described as him turning against Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

The US president expressed strong support for Israel following Hamas’ brutal invasion of southern Israel on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped about 250 hostages during their onslaught. In recent months, however, Biden has paused some weapons shipments to Israel and accused the US ally of “indiscriminate bombing” — a charge rejected by Israeli officials.

The Biden administration also discouraged Israel from launching a military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah to target some of the last remaining Hamas battalions, arguing such an operation would put too many civilians at risk. Experts told The Algemeiner at the time that Israeli forces needed to operate in Rafah in order to dismantle Hamas’ military capabilities.

More broadly, the relationship between the Democratic Party and Israel has deteriorated in the months following Oct. 7. Several high-profile Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), have suggested that Israel’s military operations in Gaza are tantamount to a “genocide.” Democratic lawmakers have also called on Biden to halt arms transfers to Israel, citing concern over mounting civilian casualties in Gaza.

While Israeli officials have expressed frustration about the Biden administration pressuring them to halt their military campaign, Netanyahu is expected to use his visit as a way to repair some of the damage. The trip could also serve as a way to make Israel’s case directly to the American public, which overall remains pro-Israel despite declining support among younger demographics.

The percentage of Americans that express “little or no confidence” in Netanyahu has increased by 11 points since 2023, according to an April poll by Pew Research Center. Among Democrats, a staggering 71 percent express “little or no confidence” in the Israeli leader. 

Anti-Israel groups have also organized protests in advance of Netanyahu’s congressional address. Far-left organizations such as Party for Socialism and Liberation and Palestinian Youth Movement are urging their supporters to “surround the Capitol” during Netanyahu’s address. Leaders of these groups have branded Netanyahu as a “war criminal” and have called for his arrest. 

The people charge Benjamin Netanyahu with genocide. When war criminal Netanyahu comes to Washington DC,” Palestinian Youth Movement wrote on Instagram, “the people of the world stand with Palestine and against the genocide committed by Israel with full support of the United States and impunity.”

In addition to meeting with Biden, Netanyahu may also speak with Republican presidential nominee and former US President Donald Trump. Netanyahu has requested an in-person meeting with Trump while in the US this week, according to Politico.

The Algemeiner could not immediately verify the report.

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Pro-Hamas Demonstrators Avoid Punishment Following Wave of Dropped Charges, Reports Say

Law enforcement officers detain a demonstrator, as they clear out a pro-Hamas protest encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Los Angeles, California, US, May 2, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/David Swanson

The State Attorney’s Office of Cook County, Illinois has dropped criminal charges filed against three Northwestern University faculty and one graduate student who allegedly obstructed law enforcement’s efforts to clear an unlawful demonstration at the Deering Meadow section of campus.

According to a local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, the office said its decision is based on its “policy not to prosecute peaceful protesters.”

Charges against the four individuals were pursued by the Northwestern University Police Department, which said that they allegedly engaged in “obstructing a police officer during the protests,” a crime for which they could, if convicted, spend a year in jail and pay a $2,500 fine, The Daily Northwestern reported last week. They had already appeared before a judge and were scheduled to do so again in August.

The university had defended the recommendation of its police department and rejected the notion that the individuals acted peaceably, saying in a statement issued earlier this month that it “does not permit activity that disrupts university operations, violates the law, or includes the intimidation or harassment of members of the community.”

Many more protesters have similarly avoided punishment for the actions they took during a burst of pro-Hamas demonstrations at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year, according to a new report by The New York Times. Prosecutors in Travis County, Texas, for example, have dropped over 100 charges of criminal trespassing filed against University of Texas at Austin protesters, the paper said, and 60 other Northwestern University protesters saw their charges dismissed, with prosecutors calling them “constitutionally dubious.” The Times added, however, that some charges will stick, including those filed against someone who bit a police officer, and many students are still awaiting the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.

Per the report, “At the University of Virginia on May 4, as students were preparing for final exams, administrators called in police to break up an encampment. Police officers in riot gear used chemical irritants to get protesters to disperse and eventually arrested 27 people. The local prosecutor dropped the charges facing seven people after he determined there wasn’t enough evidence. He offered the rest an agreement: their charges would be dismissed in August if they didn’t have any outstanding criminal charges at the time.”

Prosecutors in other states have not been as forbearing. According to Fresh Take Florida, prosecutors in Alachua County, Florida charged seven University of Florida students, as well as two non-students, with trespassing and resisting arrest. The defendants have resolved to take their chances at trial, the news service added, noting that all nine have rejected “deferred prosecution,” an agreement that would require them to plead guilty, or no contest, in exchange for the state’s expunging the convictions from their records in the future so long as they abstain from committing more criminal acts.

One of the nine, computer science student Parker Stanley Hovis, 26, — who was suspended for three years — proclaimed earlier this month that they will contest the state’s cases.

“We did not resist arrest, and we are prepared to fight our charges,” Hovis said in a statement. “We’re standing in solidarity with each other, and collectively demanding that the state drop the charges against us.”

Jewish civil rights group have described the anti-Israel protesters across the US as posing an imminent threat to Jewish students and faculty while noting that many avert being identified by concealing their faces with masks and keffiyehs, a traditional headscarf worn by Palestinians which has become known as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel. Images and footage of the practice have been widely circulated online, and it has rendered identifying the protesters — many of whom have chanted antisemitic slogans, vandalized school property, and threatened to harm Jewish students and faculty during a weeks-long demonstration between April and May — virtually impossible.

On Thursday, one such civil rights group, StandWithUs (SWU), implored the US Department of Justice to crack down on masked protests at Columbia University by enforcing legal statues which are widely referred to as the “KKK Laws,” citing numerous antisemitic incidents of harassment and assault on its campus and the difficulty of punishing the perpetrators.

Dating back to the administration of former US President Ulysses S. Grant, the so-called “KKK Laws” empower the federal government to prosecute those who engage in activities which violate the civil rights of protected groups, as the Ku Klux Klan did across the US South during Reconstruction to prevent African Americans from voting and living as free citizens. StandWithUs alleges that five anti-Zionist groups — most notably Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — currently operating on Columbia University’s campus have perpetrated similar abuses in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which guarantees all students, regardless of race or ethnic background, has the right to a safe learning environment.

“We hope the Department of Justice will take this opportunity to restore justice on Columbia University’s campuses and hold bad actors responsible for violating federal laws,” Yael Lerman, director of the SWU Saidoff Legal Department, said in a statement.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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France Says Israeli Athletes ‘Welcome’ at Olympics Amid Mounting Threats, Added Security Measures

The Olympic Village prepared for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Photo: Paris 2024 / Raphael Vriet

French leaders said on Monday that the Israeli delegation to the 2024 Paris Olympics is welcome in France, despite what critics described as “antisemitic” comments to the contrary made by a French politician two days earlier

At an anti-Israel rally on Saturday, far-left French lawmaker Thomas Portes said, “I am here to say that, no, the Israeli delegation is not welcome in Paris. Israeli athletes are not welcome at the Olympic Games in Paris.”

Portes called for Israelis to be excluded from the Paris Olympics because of Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip who perpetrated the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.

Portes later also told the newspaper Le Parisien that “France’s diplomats should pressure the International Olympic Committee to bar the Israeli flag and anthem, as is done for Russia” due to its invasion of Ukraine.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said Portes’ comments had “obvious antisemitic overtones” and “placed a target on the backs of the Israeli athletes.” He added, “I want to express my disgust at that. I want to assure the Israeli athletes of our full protection, like all athletes, but particularly them, also welcoming them.”

Darmanin also announced that Israel’s Olympic delegation, which includes 88 athletes representing the Jewish state, will have increased security and will receive 24-hour security from French police. He said the decision was made after taking into consideration the 1972 Munich Olympics — where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September — and how Israeli athletes are a target for attacks, especially since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

France has experienced a record surge in antisemitic incidents since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched the war with its massacre across southern Israel.

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné reiterated that the Israeli delegation “is welcome in France” for the Paris Olympics during his visit to Brussels on Monday, the French-language newspaper Le Monde reported. He called Portes’ remarks “irresponsible and dangerous,” and added that France “will ensure the security of the [Israeli] delegation.”

Paris Police Chief Laurent Nuñez said 30,000 to 45,000 police personnel will be working daily to ensure safety at Olympic sites and fan zones in Paris.

It was previously reported that Israel doubled its security budget for this year’s Games, which will be Israel’s 18th appearance in the Olympics. Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar told The Telegraph that the Israeli Olympic delegation this year, which is the second-largest Israeli delegation in Olympics history, has received threats but he did not go into detail. He added that delegation members will receive security details from Israel’s Shin Bet security agency but not everyone will have their own bodyguards.

“We try our best to make sure the athletes feel free but also safe and not afraid. We don’t want them to notice the security guards too much. We want them to feel confident so they can do their job,” he explained to the publication.

There have been calls to ban Israel from the Paris Olympics because of the Israel-Hamas war, but Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said in March there is no doubt that Israel will participate in the Paris Olympics.

The 2024 Olympic Games will take place from July 26-Aug. 11.

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