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Variety’s star-studded Hollywood summit on antisemitism takes a turn amid war in Israel

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (JTA) — When he heard that Hamas had called for a global day of protest last week to accompany its deadly attack on Israel, Alex Edelman’s mind turned, naturally, to jokes.

Riffing on the traditional Hebrew holiday greeting “chag sameach,” the Jewish comedian wondered aloud to a packed room of Hollywood industry members and Jewish leaders, “Do you say ‘Rage Sameach?’”

Moments later, Edelman struck a more somber tone about the violence in Israel, which his brother A.J. Edelman has represented in the Olympics. “For me, Israel is a sort of home,” Edelman said, tearing up on stage.

Edelman — whose one-man Broadway show about his encounter with white supremacists made him a star last year — was speaking at Variety magazine’s star-studded summit on antisemitism and Hollywood. Edelman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he chose to be part of the event because “I wanted to be with other Jews, and without sounding canned, with non-Jewish allies, who are interested in wrestling with a more nuanced understanding of antisemitism.”

Although the summit was planned months before Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, it was dominated by what is going on in Israel and Gaza. Edelman’s two comments about Israel were indicative of the tenor of the daylong, invite-only event: It flip-flopped between seriousness and humor, as the speakers attempted to process the news while simultaneously sticking to a pre-planned event schedule.

Put on in partnership with several Jewish organizations, the summit featured a series of panel conversations with Jewish A-list stars including Edelman, Julianna Margulies, Tiffany Haddish, Marc Maron, Josh Malina and Josh Peck, plus remarks from leaders of Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the USC Shoah Foundation. (A previously planned keynote address by SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher was scrapped due to developments in the actors union’s strike negotiations.)

The event covered a number of topics related to antisemitism and entertainment: representation, social media, comedy, the history of Jews in Hollywood and others. The original event agenda included only one panel about Israel, but much of the day’s conversations revolved around the war.

Several speakers echoed the sentiment that the violence in Israel had only made the summit more important and timely because of the online conversation and wave of antisemitic incidents around the world tied to peoples’ responses to the war. The program began with a prayer for peace and with the message, shared by Variety’s chief production officer Claudia Eller and others throughout the afternoon, that the magazine “stands in solidarity with Israel.”

CNN commentator Van Jones said he had attended because of the current pain of many in the Jewish community.

“People are hurting,” he told JTA. “I know as a Black person, we look to see who understands our pain. This is a group of people who is grieving, and nobody should grieve alone.”

During one particularly poignant moment during the talk that was specifically intended to focus on Israel, Israeli actress Swell Ariel Or shared that seven of her childhood friends had been killed.

Swell Ariel Or, left, and Odeya Rush, right, speak on a panel about Israel and entertainment at the Variety Hollywood & Antisemitism Summit in West Hollywood, California, Oct. 18, 2023. (Araya Doheny/Variety via Getty Images)

Or, the star of Netflix’s “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem,” moved to the United States two weeks ago, right before Hamas’ attack, and said she feels a degree of guilt that she’s not in her home country.

The panel, titled “Israel and the Entertainment Industry,” focused on the idea that Hollywood ought to create more content that shares the real-life, everyday stories of Israel and Israeli culture. The Tony-winning play “The Band’s Visit,” which was also adapted into a film, was given as an example of such a story.

During an earlier panel, producer Matti Leshem, whose production company made the 2021 HBO film “The Survivor,” commended U.S. President Joe Biden for his administration’s response to the war, eliciting a full round of applause from the audience.

Some panels alluded to other trends that had inspired the summit in the first place — such as the rise in antisemitic incidents in the United States and recent high-profile scandals like the one surrounding Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

“We’re very proud to be able to do this,” Variety CEO Michelle Sobrino-Stearns told JTA. She pointed out that her magazine has also published a special section of 28 articles on antisemitism, penned by Jewish influencers, celebrities and others, some of whom participated in the summit.

In the first celebrity conversation of the day, award-winning actor Julianna Margulies said “it is shocking” how few members of her industry have spoken out against antisemitism.

“The last thing I thought in my life is that I would be the one actress speaking up for Jews,” she told Eller during their chat. “But I’m proud to be here and I hope to inspire other people to speak up.”

Margulies shared her personal Jewish story, talked about her efforts to expand Holocaust education in New York City public schools and gave her take on the debates over Jewish representation in Hollywood.

The Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning actor said she “came to my Judaism quite late in life.” She said she is raising her son Jewish and enjoys celebrating Shabbat every week. “It’s about being together,” she said. “And that’s what I love about Judaism – it’s about community.”

Julianna Margulies, left, and Chief Production Officer of Variety Claudia Eller, right, speak onstage during the Variety Hollywood & Antisemitism Summit in West Hollywood, California, Oct. 18, 2023. (Araya Doheny/Variety via Getty Images)

When it comes to the debate on “Jewface” — whether non-Jews should play Jewish characters on screen — Margulies said, “It’s a slippery slope.” She added that while she would never play a character of a different race, she said actors should be allowed to act.

On the other hand, Margulies also advocated for more casual depictions of Jewishness on screen — characters who happen to be Jewish, whether or not that identity is relevant to the plot.

She recalled that the costume department for the Apple TV+ hit “The Morning Show” had given her a cross necklace to wear for her character Laura Peterson. Margulies said she didn’t think much of it at first, since her character’s faith was not prominent in the show. But as she returned for a second season, Margulies said her mentality changed. “What if Laura Peterson was wearing a Star of David, or a chai?” she said, suggesting that subtle Christianity shouldn’t always be the default.

On one panel about comedy, which featured perhaps the most famous speakers of the day, Edelman, Ike Barinholtz, Maron and Haddish discussed the role of comedy as a response to tragedy.

Maron, who has infused Jewishness and jokes about antisemitism into much of his comedy over a decades-long standup and TV career, said his father still warns him to be careful when he’s touring — especially because of how vocally Jewish he is in his stand-up.

Haddish shared her experience discovering her Jewish heritage and noted the importance of recognizing the various different ethnicities Jewish people can represent.

“I thought it was important to be here so that the narrative can be heard that we do care, that we are sticking together, that comedy is important for the soul and can heal,” she told JTA after the panel.

“I do think Jews are able to find comedy in horrible things, in horrible moments,” said Barinholtz, who has starred in “The Mindy Project” and more recently in  “History of The World: Part II.” “And I don’t think we’re there yet with [Israel], I don’t know if we ever will be.”

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The Associated Press Removes Threats of Violence and Hamas Support From Articles

Vandalism outside the home of Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak. Photo: New York Mayor Eric Adams’ Twitter account.

Even as authorities from Sydney to Brooklyn were still investigating and removing pro-Hamas graffiti, the Associated Press engaged in a scrubbing of a different sort.

In a June 10 article about the anti-Israel vandalism of the US consulate in Sydney, the Associated Press initially whitewashed a menacing symbol used to denote support for Hamas since the terror organization’s Oct. 7 terror massacre of murder, rape and countless other atrocities (“Australia PM urges activists to ‘turn down the heat’ after US consulate vandalized over Gaza war“).

The AP euphemistically reported about the symbols used to express support for the designated terror organization as follows:

Two inverted red triangles, seen by many as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, were also painted on the front of the building.

A screenshot of the AP’s headline about the vandalism in Australia, along with an accompanying video which briefly shows the red triangles:

Given that Hamas uses the red triangle in its videos documenting attacks on Israelis, it signifies support for the designated terror organization. “Resistance” doesn’t quite convey the horrors that went down on Oct. 7.

The New York Post detailed the association of the red triangles with Hamas terrorism:

The triangle became a prevalent symbol online and offline beginning in November 2023 following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s aggressive retaliatory offensive, according to the Anti Defamation League.

It first appeared in propaganda videos from the al-Qassam brigades — Hamas’ military wing — to highlight an Israeli soldier that was about to be killed or wounded in a targeted attack by the terrorists.

In the clips, the red triangle followed the target, which was then hit with a sniper’s bullet, a rocket-propelled grenade or another deadly blast.

“Though it can be used innocuously in general pro-Palestine social media posts, the inverted red triangle is now used to represent Hamas itself and glorify its use of violence in many popular anti-Zionist memes and political cartoons,” the ADL says on its website.

For example, the group said, anti-Israel protesters will put the symbol over an image of Israeli soldiers or on a Star of David “as a way to call for further violent resistance.”

In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, the AP moderately improved its explanation of the red triangles, revising the sentence to at least include reference to Hamas:

Two inverted red triangles, seen by some as a symbol of Palestinian resistance but by others as supporting the militant group Hamas, were also painted on the front of the building.

While an AP video paired with the article briefly showed the red triangles defacing the US consulate, the AP’s still photographs made do with boarded up windows. The accompanying captions also ignored the sinister red triangles:

A couple walks past the boarded windows at the U.S. consulate as police investigate the vandalism in Sydney, Monday, June 10, 2024. A suspect is believed to have smashed nine holes in the reinforced glass windows of the building in North Sydney after 3 a.m., a police statement said. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Meanwhile, red triangle vandalism took an even darker turn when the pro-terror symbol, used repeatedly to mark targets, appeared June 11 on the New York co-op building where Anne Pasternak, the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum, lives.

In coverage of that incident, the AP didn’t simply scrub the pro-Hamas significance of the symbol. Instead, the AP entirely sliced the ominous red triangles out of the story, which referred only to red paint. In his Jan. 13 article, Philip Marcelo selectively reported (“Apparent Gaza activists hurl paint at homes of Brooklyn Museum leaders, including Jewish director“):

People purporting to be pro-Palestinian activists hurled red paint at the homes of top leaders at the Brooklyn Museum, including its Jewish director, and also splashed paint across the front of diplomatic buildings for Germany and the Palestinian Authority early Wednesday, prompting a police investigation and condemnation from city authorities.

Mayor Eric Adams, in a post on the social platform X, shared images of a brick building splashed with red paint with a banner hung in front of the door that called the museum’s director, Anne Pasternak, a “white-supremacist Zionist.”

But the images that Mayor Adams shared didn’t merely show “a brick building splashed with red paint” and a banner denouncing Pasternak as a “white supremacist Zionist.”

Adams’ post on X includes four photographs of the vandalism, all displaying the huge red triangles which absolutely cannot be missed. And yet AP chose not to note the presence of the threatening imagery, much less explain its significance.

This is not peaceful protest or free speech. This is a crime, and it’s overt, unacceptable antisemitism.

These actions will never be tolerated in New York City for any reason. I’m sorry to Anne Pasternak and members of @brooklynmuseum‘s board who woke up to hatred like this.


— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) June 12, 2024

The AP’s ubiquitous photographers — the prolific bunch churns out 1.2 million images annually — also didn’t manage to capture the shocking scene of Pasternak’s home defaced with what amounts to a murder threat.

Instead, the cadre of photojournalists suffice with an image of the German consulate, which was vandalized with red paint, apparently applied in an abstract arrangement, sans red triangles. Like Marcelo’s article, the photograph’s caption also paints over the pro-Hamas imagery, referring to a random splashing of color:

Red paint covers portions of the entrance to the German consulate building, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in New York. Pro-Palestinian protesters have vandalized locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum and United Nations in New York City, throwing red paint across their entrances in opposition to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (AP Photo/Sophie Rosenbaum)

Not only does the caption neglect to note the Hamas-linked graphic, it also ignores that the “locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum” were private homes.

It’s not just Hamas graphics that are subjected to AP’s scrubbing. A pro-Hamas organization also gets sanitized.

Here’s how the AP’s Marcelo whitewashes the pro-Hamas Within Our Lifetime group:

The protest group Within Our Lifetime and other organizers of that demonstration said the museum is “deeply invested in and complicit” in Israel’s military actions in Gaza through its leadership, trustees, corporate sponsors and donors — a claim museum officials have denied.

He says not a word about the organization’s support for Hamas. According to ADL, Within Our Lifetime:

has hosted or co-sponsored at least 78 anti-Israel rallies many of which included explicit support for violence against Israeli civilians by U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations  Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollahthe Houthis and affiliated individuals such as Leila Khaled and Hamas’ military wing spokesperson Abu Obaida. WOL also expressed enthusiastic support for Iran’s unprecedented April 13 drone-and-missile attack on Israel.

Marcelo similarly sluices down Within Our Lifetime’s horrifying and deep embrace of terror at the demonstration outside the Nova Festival massacre last week. His censored account states:

The paint attacks came the same week that Within Our Lifetime organized a large demonstration outside a New York City exhibition memorializing victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival. The group called it “Zionist propaganda” and dismissed the music festival, where hundreds died, as “a rave next to a concentration camp.”

The AP spares its readers from the most disturbing aspects from the event. As The Times of Israel reported:
Protesters set off flares, flew flags of Hamas’s armed al-Qassam Brigades terror wing and of the Hezbollah terror group, and carried banners with slogans such as “Long live October 7” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.”
 On June 11, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced the antisemitism of the pro-Hamas crowd outside the Nova Festival exhibit, twice citing those most heinous lines:

What was even worse, or at least adding salt into the wounds was that just a day or two after I visited the exhibit, protestors gathered outside the exhibit chanting repugnant antisemitic phrases, donning banners that read “Long Live October 7th” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” How low can you go ?

Having visited the exhibit and seeing those young people and then knowing and seeing on film what happened to them at the vicious hands of Hamas, and then having people come outside and protest and say “Long Live October 7th” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” How repugnant. How despicable. How terribly unnerving that humanity could sink that low.

And yet, at this low point for humanity, AP has relegated these repugnant slogans glorifying mass murder to the dustbin of history.

Tamar Sternthal is the director of CAMERA’s Israel Office. A version of this article previously appeared on the CAMERA website.

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Netanyahu Disbands War Cabinet, Says No Need After Gantz’s Resignation

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

i24 News — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that he will dissolve the six-member War Cabinet, a move that was expected following the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.

During a meeting of the State Security Cabinet, Netanyahu said that the War Cabinet was established following Blue and White leader Gantz’s demand to join the coalition, and that after he left there is no reason to maintain it.

Netanyahu made it clear that he will continue limited security consultations. He rejected establishing a forum of coalition heads for security consultations, an idea that was brought up during the meeting.

 In practice, the expanded cabinet will meet more often. According to Israeli law, the powers and responsibilities for making decisions on managing the war effort are vested in State Security Cabinet.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that, regardless, Netanyahu will continue to consult regularly with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other representatives of the defense establishment.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir lobbied to join the War Cabinet since its inception in the beginning of the war with Hamas in October. After Gantz announced he would leave the coalition and demand elections, thereby resigning from the War Cabinet, the far-right Ben Gvir demanded to be added to the small council. Such a move likely would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.

The war cabinet was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the conflict. Gantz left the government last week over what he described as Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.

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Only 9% of Palestinians Think Hamas Committed War Crimes; 67% Support Oct. 7 Atrocities

Marwan Barghouti gestures as Israeli police bring him into the District Court for his judgment hearing in Tel Aviv, May 20, 2004. Photo: Reuters / Pool / David Silverman.

There have been shocking poll results in the latest survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

Only 9% of Palestinians think Hamas committed war crimes, while a whopping 67% support the Oct. 7 attacks.

For those who still delude themselves into thinking that Palestinians are moderate, think again.

For president, Palestinians overwhelmingly prefer the Hamas leader (46%) over the Palestinian Authority (PA)/Fatah leader (5%). Fatah is only preferred when their candidate is the terrorist Marwan Barghouti, a convicted murderer, who is serving 5 life sentences.

This must be an eye-opener for Americans and Europeans, who are pressuring Israel to accept the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner. The PA represents no one. According to this poll, the Palestinian population is not interested in peace. Mahmoud Abbas only represents himself. And if the Palestinians ever have a future election, they are certain to elect a terrorist as president and Hamas to rule the parliament.

The following are some of the most important findings in the latest poll by the PSR. Palestinians were questioned between May 26 and June 1, 2024. The poll includes Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Was Hamas’ decision to launch the October 7 offensive correct or incorrect?

Correct: 67% (West Bank 73%, Gaza Strip 57%)

Incorrect: 26% (West Bank 17%, Gaza Strip 41%)

Are you satisfied with the performance in the war?

Hamas: 64% satisfied

Fatah (Palestinian Authority): 14% satisfied

War crimes

97% – Israel committed war crimes

9% – Hamas committed war crimes

Who should rule the Gaza Strip after the war?

Hamas: 71%

Current PA (with or without Abbas): 12%

A new PA: 16%

If presidential elections were held today between these two, for whom would you vote?

Mahmoud Abbas from Fatah: 5%

Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas: 46%

If presidential elections were held today between these three, for whom would you vote?

Mahmoud Abbas from Fatah: 2%

Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas: 23%

Marwan Barghouti from Fatah: 47%

If elections were held today for parliament, how would you vote?

Hamas: 31%

Fatah: 17%

Other parties: 4%

Will not vote or don’t know: 51%

Which side will win the war?

Hamas: 67%

Israel: 11%

89% say Mahmoud Abbas should resign.

Itamar Marcus is Founder and Director of Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

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