(JTA) — Variety magazine is holding a star-studded Hollywood summit focused on addressing antisemitism through “inclusive storytelling, thought leadership, and advocacy.”
Actor, producer and SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher will deliver an opening keynote address at the daylong event on Oct. 18. Subsequent panel discussions will cover topics ranging from the history of Jews in Hollywood to combating antisemitism through comedy and social media.
“The reason we decided to pursue something of this magnitude and scale is simple, yet vital and urgent,” Claudia Eller, Variety’s chief production officer, said in a statement on Thursday. “We wanted to encourage candid discussions about antisemitism, its disgraceful proliferation in the modern era, and how to encourage more thoughtful and accurate representation throughout the industry. Our hope for the day is to bring people together to make change happen.”
One panel is titled “The State of Antisemitism” and features prominent TV producers. Another, led by film historian Neal Gabler and “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, will tackle the industry’s Jewish history and antisemitism during its early years. Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Alex Edelman and Marc Maron will participate in another panel on how to use comedy to open up discourse on contemporary antisemitism. Julianna Margulies will discuss her own personal experiences of antisemitism.
Variety will also publish a series of online essays in conjunction with the event, including writings by Maron, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, Beanie Feldstein, Mayim Bialik, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and more.
University of Pennsylvania President Resigns Amid Massive Backlash Over Tepid Response to Campus Antisemitism
University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill resigned from her position on Saturday, ending a 17-month tenure marked by controversy over what critics described as an insufficient response to surging antisemitism on campus.
“It has been my privilege to serve as president of this remarkable institution,” Magill said in a statement. “It has been an honor to work with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to advance Penn’s vital missions.”
Magill’s resignation followed growing calls from university leaders, donors, and students, as well as US lawmakers, for her to step down after refusing to say during a congressional hearing held on Tuesday that calling for the genocide of Jews would not constitute a violation of school rules.
“It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman,” Magill said, responding to US Rep. Elise Stefanik (D-NY), who posed the question. “If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment, yes.”
“Conduct meaning committing the act of genocide?” Stefanik asked, visibly disturbed by Magill’s answer. “The speech is not harassment? This is unacceptable Ms. Magill.”
The following day, Magill apologized.
“In that moment, I was focused on our university’s longstanding policies aligned with the US Constitution, which say that speech alone is not punishable,” she said in a video posted on X/Twitter. “I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate.”
Appointed in July 2022, Magill, an alumnus of Yale University and the University of Virginia Law School, began her position at the school vowing to “shape Penn’s next great chapter.” By the time of Saturday’s announcement, however, two Jewish students had sued the school, alleging that it violated their civil rights by “selectively” enforcing rules that would punish those who harass and intimidate Jewish students, hiring radical anti-Zionist professors, and fostering a hostile learning environment.
Meanwhile, the US government began investigating accusations of antisemitism at the university, and a major donor threatened to rescind a $100 million gift if she remained in place.
Jewish students have said that antisemitism at Penn is an “institutional problem” that has been worsening for many years.
The problem became acute and first noticed by much of the public in September, when the school hosted an anti-Zionist festival that featured several speakers who called for violence against Israel and were accused of promoting antisemitic conspiracies. For weeks, the school would not condemn the event, and Magill recently apologized for not doing so — after it took place.
After Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, anti-Zionist protests at the university at times descended into demagoguery and intimidation of Jewish students, as speakers berated pro-Israel counter-protesters.
For roughly seven hours on Oct. 17, the protesters walked back and forth across Penn’s grounds chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a slogan widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The demonstrators also chanted “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we caught you in genocide.”
However, according to court documents viewed by The Algemeiner concerning the recent lawsuit by two Jewish students, such incidents were hardly new.
In March, for example, the anti-Zionist group Penn Against the Occupation (POA) hosted Mohammed El-Kurd during its “Israeli Apartheid Week.” Currently a columnist for the left-wing magazine The Nation, the 25-year-old el-Kurd has trafficked in antisemitic tropes, demonized Zionism, and falsely accused Israelis of eating the organs of Palestinians. Over the past two years he has widely toured across American university campuses, heightening concerns about rising antisemitism and harassment against pro-Israel students.
On Oct. 7, as scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies in Israel circulated worldwide, POA members held an “Emergency Solidarity Rally” where one of its members congratulated Hamas on a “job well done.” According to the complaint, the student said, “When they woke up in the morning, and they found the field hands in the house, with a knife, ready to cut their f—king throats. I was late to the news but when I heard it, I smiled. I don’t want to hear that bulls—t, 250, 250, innocent Israelis are dead. F—k ’em. Again, I swear, I salute Hamas.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
Yemen’s Houthis Warn They Will Target All Ships Headed to Israel
Yemen’s Houthi movement said on Saturday they would target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and warned all international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.
The Iran-aligned group is escalating the risks of a regional conflict amid a brutal war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist Hamas.
The Houthis have attacked and seized several Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea and its Bab al-Mandab strait, a sea lane through which much of the world’s oil is shipped, and fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel.
Houthi officials say their actions are a show of support for the Palestinians.
Israel said attacks on ships was an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.
A Houthi military spokesperson said all ships sailing to Israeli ports are banned from the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.
“If Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The threat has an immediate effect, the statement added.
The Houthis are one of several groups in the Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance” which have been hitting Israeli and U.S. targets since Oct. 7 when Hamas militants attacked Israel.
In one of the latest incidents, three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters last week, prompting a U.S. Navy destroyer to intervene.
The Houthis, which rule much of Yemen and its Red Sea coast, also seized last month a British-owned cargo ship that had links with an Israeli company.
The United States and Britain have condemned the attacks on shipping, blaming Iran for its role in supporting the Houthis. Tehran says its allies make their decisions independently.
Saudi Arabia has asked the United States to show restraint in responding to the attacks.
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IDF Announces Death of 5 Soldiers, Toll of Gaza Operation Up to 97
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit released on Saturday the names of the latest fallen soldiers in the war against Hamas, taking Israel’s toll in the ground operation to 97.
The victims were named as follows: Master Sergeant (res.) Liav Atiya, 25, from Be’er Sheva. Master Sergeant (res.) Omri Ben Shachar, 25, from Givatayim. Sergeant Maor Cohen Eisenkot, 19, from Eilat. Staff Sergeant Jonatan Dean Haim, 25, from Ramat Gan. Sergeant Haim Meir Eden, 20, from Rehovot.
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