It is immensely important that Danny Cohen, the executive producer of The Zone of Interest, has publicly repudiated the director Jonathan Glazer’s atrocious Holocaust statement at the Oscars.

In his speech, Glazer was at once self-loathing toward and obsessed with his own Jewishness. Upon accepting the Academy Award for his film and its portrayal of the Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss’s life next to a concentration camp, Glazer seemed express deep shame for his heritage while blaming Judaism for Palestinian suffering, and took the extraordinary step (for a director of a Holocaust movie!) of equating the Jews of today with Höss’s fellow Nazis of yesterday.

In his public comments on Glazer’s moral misconduct, Cohen made three separate points, all of which are significant for their own reasons.

First, and most obvious, was his repudiation of Glazer’s statement. “I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan on this,” he told podcast hosts Jonathan Freedland and Yonit Levi. “The war and the continuation of the war is the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization which continues to hold and abuse the hostages, which doesn’t use its tunnels to protect the innocent civilians of Gaza but uses it to hide themselves and allow Palestinians to die. I think the war is tragic and awful and the loss of civilian life is awful, but I blame Hamas for that.”

That is well said and correct in every particular. The relevance of Judaism to the current conflict is entirely contained in the fact that it was Hamas’s motivation to murder and torture and rape and kidnap men, women, children and the elderly. The war happened because there are monsters walking the earth who seek to eradicate Jews, and the war continues because those monsters refuse to stop trying.

Moreover, Glazer’s statement was contemptible for another reason: He delivered it while Len Blavatnik, the producer without whom Glazer would not have been standing there, was on stage behind him. Blavatnik did not know what Glazer was going to say, and Glazer put Blavatnik in an untenable position. It revealed Glazer to be a man not only of moral cowardice but of personal dishonor as well.

Cohen reiterated that he and Blavatnik were unaware of what Glazer was going to say. Producer James Wilson, who was onstage as well, and Glazer “have been collaborators on filmmaking and in life and in ideas for a long time so I believe it was—well, I know it was—something they wrote together,” Cohen said. Collaborators indeed.

Cohen went as far as he was able in making it clear that Blavatnik—a billionaire Jewish philanthropist who cut off Harvard and Penn in December—disagreed with Glazer as well, which is important to have on the record.

And the third significant part of Cohen’s remarks has to do with the effect of Glazer’s prostration before Hollywood, which risks canceling out the intended effect of the movie itself. “John spent 10 years making the film and has made something remarkable but people are talking this week more about what he said for 30 seconds,” Cohen said. “And I think that’s regrettable because I’d love the conversation to be focused on the film itself.”

That conversation, Cohen said, was supposed to be about educating the public about the Holocaust, and advancing that education in new and creative and striking ways without compromising the lesson at its core. He made sure to include Blavatnik in that as well: “Big picture is we are honored and thrilled to win Academy Awards. The film as I say is remarkable and I think that’s what’s going to be remembered in the long term, not that speech. And we’re extremely proud of the film. There’s been a bump in the road here but I don’t think it takes away from us that it’s a remarkable film and the impact it can have on Holocaust education which was certainly the purpose for Len Blavatnik and [me].”

We can only hope Cohen is right that Glazer’s stunt will fade in the public’s mind far sooner than will the movie’s ability to impart on a new generation the horrific reality of the Holocaust.

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