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HomeGeneralJewish Entertainers Call Out Academy for Excluding Them from Oscars Diversity Standards

Jewish Entertainers Call Out Academy for Excluding Them from Oscars Diversity Standards

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Last week, a large group of Jewish entertainers signed an open letter calling out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They accused the outfit of excluding Jews from its recently implemented Oscars diversity standards. 

In 2020, after George Floyd’s death, the Academy announced that it now requires films to showcase more inclusion and diversity. There were also other criteria that elevated women, the LGBTQ, and people with disabilities. 

2024 is the first year films will have to abide by these standards. That is if they want to be eligible at the Oscars in 2025. Unfortunately, even though they are roughly 2% of the U.S. population, the Academy did not include Jews in the reforms.

“While we applaud the Academy’s efforts to increase diverse and authentic storytelling, an inclusion effort that excludes Jews is both steeped in and misunderstands antisemitism,” the open letter reads.

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“It erases Jewish peoplehood and perpetuates myths of Jewish whiteness, power, and that racism against Jews is not a major issue or that it’s a thing of the past.” The letter described Jews as their own ethnic group. It also stressed that they are “an indigenous people to the Middle East.”

This is a true fact even if they have “White-passing members.” The letter claimed that systemic racism against Jews was the motivation behind the creation of an industry free of antisemitism.

“Unfortunately, many of these founders had internalized shame and self-loathing, which meant that Jews in Hollywood often changed their names and told stories about Jews with caricatures, tropes, appropriation, and self-erasure,” the letter reads.

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The letter says that the exclusion of Jews implies that there is an over-representation of them in films, which is not true. “There are very few films about Jews, aside from ones about the Holocaust,” the letter reads. “Moreover, when Jewish characters are featured, they are often played by non-Jews, a rare practice for other marginalized groups.”

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According to the letter, there have always been Jews working in the industry. But the industry has only tolerated a certain type of Jew — “the toned-down Jew.” 

The letter highlighted how a Jew has never made Hollywood a home. And how, even with today’s increased standards of inclusion and diversity, Jews continue to be unwelcome. The letter says the exclusion of Jewish people from the Representation and Inclusion Standards is discriminating.

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They want this to change immediately by including Jews in these standards. It also suggests additional changes like considering cultural consultants and authentic casting. 

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“There is a duty for the entertainment world to do its part in disseminating whole and human depictions of Jews, to increase understanding and empathy in viewers in these dangerous times.”

The letter ended by asking Motion Picture Academy leadership to help advance the just cause they have been ignoring for too long. There were over 250 signatories. And the vast majority of them are Jewish, including Debra Messing, David Schwimmer, Mayim Bialik, Michael Rapaport, and Tiffany Haddish. 

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