The Oscars Speech Smear Campaign

Jonathan Cook on the courtiers and charlatans who lied about what Jonathan Glazer said in his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.

Oscar display at ABC studios in New York, 2007. (Harold Neal, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Jonathan Cook

Film director Jonathan Glazer poked a hornet’s nest with his acceptance speech this week as he won an Oscar for The Zone of Interest, a film about the family of Auschwitz’s Nazi commandant who live peacefully inside a walled garden, cut off from the horrors just the other side.

Glazer says the film’s point is not simply to drive home a history lesson. It’s “not to say, ‘Look what they did then.’ Rather, ‘Look what we do now.’”

There could not be a pithier summary of the difference between the universal moral impulse found in Jews like Glazer, and the particularist Zionist impulse found in the people who noisily claim to speak for the Jewish community — and are readily given a bullhorn to do so by Western establishments.

The first group says, “Never again.” The second group cries, “Never again, unless it serves Israel’s interests.”

And given Israel’s decades-long craving to dispossess the Palestinians of their entire homeland, that second “Never again” is as good as worthless. Palestinians were always in danger of erasure – not just territorially, as happened in 1948 and 1967, but existentially, as is happening now – by a state misleadingly declaring itself to be Jewish.

Universal Ethics Sidelined

The assumption of many was that the West would never tolerate another genocide being conducted in its name.

How misplaced that certainty was. The West is arming and funding the genocide in Gaza and providing diplomatic cover at the United Nations. Its commitment to helping Israel carry out mass slaughter is such that many Western states have frozen their funding to the U.N. aid agency UNRWA, which is specifically charged with keeping Palestinians in Gaza fed and alive.

Glazer in 2023. (Raph_PH, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

Observers underestimated how far things had shifted. Over many decades, a universal ethics that drew on the lessons of the Holocaust — and solidified into international law — was intentionally undermined, sidelined and replaced by a particularist Zionist “ethics.”

That readjustment happened with the active connivance of Western powers, which had no interest in promoting the universal lessons of recent history. For their own self-interested reasons, they preferred the particularist agenda of Zionism.

It sat easily with the West’s insistence that its privileges continue: the right to wage wars and steal the resources of others, the ability to trample on indigenous peoples and the power to destroy the planet and other species.

Ideology for Dark Times

In fact, Zionism was never centrally about Israel. It is a much broader ideology, rooted in Western tradition and tailor-made for the darker times we are entering, in which systems collapse — of economies, of climate stability, of authority — poses new challenges to Western establishments.

Zionism started as a Christian doctrine centuries ago, and flourished in the Victorian era among British politicians. It views Jews chiefly as a vehicle to advance a brutal, end-of-times redemption in which they are to be the main sacrificial victims.

Though less conspicuously today, Christian Zionism still shapes the climate in which today’s politicians operate — as the large number of “Friends of Israel” in both major parties attests. Christian Zionism is the self-professed view too of many tens of millions of rightwing evangelicals in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Whether in its Christian or Jewish incarnations, Zionism was always a “might is right,” “law of the jungle” doctrine, drawing on Old Testament-style ideas of chosen-ness, divine purpose and rationalisations for violence and savagery. It sits all too comfortably with the extermination of Palestinians in Gaza.

No Disgrace or Shame

Jewish leaders and influencers in the West who champion more, not less, genocide in Gaza face neither disgrace nor shame. They are not shunned for cheering policies that have slaughtered and  maimed at least 100,000 Palestinians. Why? Because they are articulating an Israel-focused version of an ideology that fits neatly with the worldview of western establishments.

For this reason, some Jewish influencers lost no time working to smear Glazer as a self-hating Jew by misrepresenting his speech — quite literally by editing out the parts that did not fit their particularist, anti-universal agenda.

Referencing the victims both of Oct. 7 and of Israel’s attack on Gaza, Glazer told the Oscars audience

“Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation that has led to conflict for so many innocent people.”

He was expressly opposing his Jewishness being weaponised in support of a genocide. He was standing apart from many Jewish community leaders and influencers who have weaponised their own Jewishness to justify violence against civilians. He was reminding us that the Holocaust’s lesson is that ideologies must never trump our humanity, must never be used to rationalise evil.

All of which poses a huge threat to those in the Jewish community who have, for years, been precisely weaponising their Jewishness for political ends — in the service of Israel and its decades-old project to remove the Palestinian people from their historic homeland.

The Real Moral Rot

In a moment of pure projection, for example, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, dubbed by media outlets as “the most famous rabbi in America,” castigated Glazer for supposedly “exploiting the Holocaust” and for trivializing “the memory of the 6 million victims through whom he found Hollywood glory.”

Boteach apparently cannot understand that it is he, not Glazer, who has been exploiting the Holocaust — in his case, for decades in the service of protecting Israel from any criticism, even now as it commits a genocide.

Meanwhile, Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor at Newsweek, broke with all journalistic norms to completely misrepresent Glazer’s speech, accusing him of “moral rot” for supposedly disavowing his Jewishness. Rather, as he made all too clear, he was rejecting how his Jewishness and the Holocaust were being hijacked by genocide apologists such as Ungar-Sargon to promote a violent ideological agenda.

The Newsweek editor knows that Glazer’s speech was the most listened to and discussed moment of the Oscars. There are few who read her tweeted comment that had not heard for themselves what Glazer said in his speech rather than the misinformation Ungar-Sargon peddled about it.

Lying about his remarks should have been an act of professional self-harm. It should have been a dark stain on her journalistic credibility. And yet Ungar-Sargon proudly left up her tweet, even as it received X’s humiliating “Readers added…” footnote exposing her deception.

She did so because that tweet is her calling card. It declares her not a talented or careful journalist but as something far more useful: one who will do whatever is required to get ahead. Like Shmuley, she was projecting — in her case, with the accusation of “moral rot.” She was advertising that she lacks a moral compass, and that she is willing to do whatever is needed to advance establishment interests.

Like those who lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there will be no price to pay for these all-too-visible failings, or for promoting a catastrophe for a people whose lives and fate are of no import to the West.

Shmuley and Ungar-Sargon are determined to buttress the walled garden, shielding us from the suffering, the terrors, inflicted by the West just out of view.

These courtiers and charlatans must be shamed and shunned. We must listen instead to those like Glazer trying to tear down the wall to show us the reality outside.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog, Jonathan  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

25 comments for “The Oscars Speech Smear Campaign

  1. Voltaria Voltaire
    March 14, 2024 at 17:31

    Thank you Jonathan! The mainstream media is a dying industry because of their lies, rumors and ulterior destructive motives. They are singing their own swan song, playing their own death march. People are waking up to the fact that those who kill and destroy without the faintest sense of responsibility, do not deserve a voice in a sane, healthy society. That type can hide under any cover, and we have to keep lifting up that dirty old cover and shine the light of truth there. I cheer you!

  2. Riva Enteen
    March 14, 2024 at 15:56

    They are still talking about the clearly debunked mass rape story? Facts and shame are out the window. We are living in a twisted, diabolical time. Thanks to Cook and CN for helping us know we are sane, ethical, and not alone.

  3. Riva Enteen
    March 14, 2024 at 11:21

    They are still talking about the clearly debunked mass rape story? Facts and shame are thrown out the window. We are living in a twisted diabolical world. Thanks to people like Cook and sites like CN we know we are the sane and moral ones.

  4. Richard Burrill
    March 14, 2024 at 11:09

    Excellent commentary, Jonathan Cook! Millions of people in the West, particularly in the United States, heard what Mr. Glazer said. If only the corporate media in the U.S., the U.K., and other western countries had the balls to give us the truth about what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank, they would have a clearer understanding. It is shameful what publications, including the NYT and the Washington Post, try to tell us is the truth.

  5. Steve
    March 14, 2024 at 11:02

    Clearly, the ‘lessons learned from the Holocaust’ are those taught by the Nazis, and which are now being used by Israel to ethically cleanse Palestine. Well done Mr. Glazer. Millions around the world support your stance.

  6. Lois Gagnon
    March 14, 2024 at 09:39

    Moral cowardess is being peddled as virtue by the chattering class. Just another feature of the West’s accelerating decline into barbarism. I suppose we should have seen it coming. A system based on exploitation of human beings was never going to evolve into paradise on earth. We need to transition to a totally different understanding of how to live on this planet together.

  7. Tim N
    March 14, 2024 at 08:23

    As usual, right on the money.

  8. Vera Gottlieb
    March 14, 2024 at 05:40

    The Ashkenazi have always been a conceited lot…

    • Em
      March 14, 2024 at 15:40

      Out of the mouth of ‘goodness’ itself comes supercilious conceit! Now, either this is an extreme case of self-hate or more likely, a person disgusted, and therefore, ‘casting stones’ in the frustration of impotency to do anything?.
      Quite understandable, either way!

  9. Eric
    March 13, 2024 at 23:58

    “universal ethics that drew on the lessons of the Holocaust — and solidified into international law
    — was intentionally undermined, sidelined and replaced by a particularist Zionist “ethics.”

    Similarly, politicians and pundits used to prattle on about a “rules-based international order”
    – giving the impression they were talking about international law. However, particularly
    after the West’s shameful response to the ICJ ruling, it’s clear that they are not the same.

    Whenever we hear the words “rules-based international order”, we should object, loudly.

  10. Paula
    March 13, 2024 at 21:28

    It was beautiful and healing to hear Galzer’s acceptance after watching the sickening applause for the lies Biden told during his State of Union address in which state he was addressing I am not sure but it didn’t seem like he was too concerning for the citizen of the United States. I look forward to viewing Galzer’s film. I’m certain I will see Israelis and US citizens in the film, behind a wall they dare not look.

    • Voltaria Voltaire
      March 14, 2024 at 17:47

      It is interesting that Lloyd Austin III, the US Director of Defense, is pointing the finger at Biden, and Biden is pointing the finger at Netanyahu. What is the US paying them for? US would be better off paying them to clean the White House and Pentagon toilets. The country would run better by itself. And who is Netanyahu blaming? Well, the Palestinians- as we see- and EVERYBODY ELSE, OF COURSE!!! He wants Biden to lose and Trump to win. Wonder why? Want a better system? Check out VotePact dot org.

  11. Joseph Tracy
    March 13, 2024 at 19:34

    Glazer should have been clearer and more direct in confronting the genocidal action in Gaza . Yes the meaning of his words was distorted by people who would deny any form of Jewishness which does not support the violent settler colonism that is the Zionist project. But his statement was a rather awkward construction ending in a soupy passive voiced generality: ” an occupation that has led to conflict for so many innocent people.”
    NO. Not conflict, mass murder, crushed and mangled humans, collective punishment for armed resistance against 75 years of dispossession, apartheid and murder. Just as there is no way of humanizing a Nazi death camp commander, no matter how human his family life, there is no way of justifying what Israel has done to the non-Jews they seek to erase. In the end the differences are trivial and the similarities glaring and overwhelming. That we are almost all capable of far too much compartmentalizing and no one is qualified to cast the first stone should humble us, warn us, but not silence us. The cost is too high. Never Again.

    • Valerie
      March 14, 2024 at 11:37

      That is the naked truth Joseph.

  12. Judith Dyer
    March 13, 2024 at 18:56

    He can join the ranks of the Jews, many Israeli Jews, who speak against what Israel is doing: Norman Finkelstein, IIan Pappe, Gideon Levy, Massah Gessen, Not in MY Name American Jews….many other brave Jews who aren’t blinded by Israeli lies.

  13. March 13, 2024 at 18:30

    Thank you, Jonathan Cook. The reprobates you describe are following orders from their god:

    “As for the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is going to give you as an inheritance, you must not allow a single living thing to survive. Instead you must utterly annihilate them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites [primary ancestors of today’s Palestinians], Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites [the Canaanites of Jerusalem] (Deuteronomy 20:16-17 NET).

    At its foundation, the massacre* in Gaza stems from conflicting interpretations of the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” To most Jews and Christians, that commandment means ‘Don’t kill fellow humans’, but to readers who understand the commandment’s original intended meaning, “Thou shalt not kill” means ‘Don’t kill fellow Jews’. For details on how that dolus specialis (special deceit) evolved, please watch “Thou shalt not kill … whom?” at: hxxps://

    * I hesitate to call it a ‘war’. If Pee-wee Herman stepped into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson, it would not be a ‘fight’. It would be a massacre.

    • AlanP
      March 14, 2024 at 15:43

      The first thing Moses did after he brought down the ten commandments was to kill 300 of his people who had started worshipping a golden calf. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ means only the people in charge have the right to kill.

    • joey_n
      March 15, 2024 at 04:45

      Not that I’d imagine Pee-wee Herman fighting with Mike Tyson anyway, because Paul Reubens passed away last July.

  14. Laurie Holbrook
    March 13, 2024 at 17:48

    The information Cook offers about Zionism I have never seen before. I have been trying to understand why western nations have unequivocally supported Israel up to and including this genocide – it explains a lot. Darker times indeed.

  15. KMRIA
    March 13, 2024 at 16:50

    Beautifully said, as usual for Jonathan Cook.

  16. Susan Siens
    March 13, 2024 at 16:05

    Perhaps Newsweek’s “opinions editor” bears some responsibility for print media’s shrinking existence.

  17. Will Durant
    March 13, 2024 at 15:55

    Excellent article, Jonathan! The sooner we strip away the lies and the obvious nefarious motives underlying the casual and shop worn use of the charge “antisemitism” to describe critics of Israel the sooner we can have justice and a radical and very necessary course correction. We can’t repeat this message often enough, since we’ve had the false accusation of antisemitism rammed down our throats for decades whenever we point out the racist agenda and actions of the Zionists. Our condemnation must be an endless loop if we are to counter the constant and well funded propaganda of the Zionists. Mr. Glazer is acting in the best tradition of Judaism in calling out injustice, persecution and oppression by Israel and its apologists. Zionism is to Judaism what the KKK is to Christianity: a perversion.

  18. mary-lou
    March 13, 2024 at 15:52

    unfortunately the at first promising US politician RFK, Jr. works closely with Rabbi Boteach, thus seriously hurting his credibility.
    also: insightful interview by Miko Peled with Rabbi David Feldman (Neturei Karta) – ‘Why do the most observant Jews in the world reject Israel and call for justice for Palestinians?….’ – hxxps://

  19. Jerry Markatos
    March 13, 2024 at 15:22

    Many thanks to Jonathan Cook for this earnest and important discussion.
    Anyone who cares about and respects the justice at the heart of Judaism
    (and Jonathan Glazer’s film and Oscar statement) can remind Newsweek
    of basic ethics, and the heartless nature of attacks on Jonathan Glazer at this site:

  20. Drew Hunkins
    March 13, 2024 at 15:18

    What’s remarkable about Hollywood and mainstream movie making, and even much of “indie” films, is that we’ve been handed at least hundreds, literally at least several hundred if not over a thousand, different movies about the Jewish holocaust but haven’t been provided anywhere near that amount of films portraying the harrowing plight of occupied Palestine by the Jewish supremacists.

    In fact, I’m hard pressed at the moment to think of any acclaimed major motion pictures dealing with the occupation of Palestine. It’s truly astonishing and speaks to who controls entertainment media throughout much of the world. I highly doubt a film with Israeli occupation as the major backdrop or focal point of the plot has EVER been nominated for Best Picture.

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