Source: Rajan Laad

On Sept. 25, 2021, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures was launched to memorize the world of film.

It was a good idea.

The cinematic experience is unique and well known the world over. Where else can a diverse group of people be engaged such that they forget their differences and experience almost identical emotions simultaneously? 

The world of film is also where art and technology unite to deliver a unique mix of sound and image.

Beyond entertainment, cinema is an important module of literature. Many films have also transcended the realms of the cinema halls to become cultural milestones the world over.

Motion pictures have existed for more than a century, hence a museum dedicated to the magic of the movies was not just a welcome idea, it was essential.

However, once launched, a major problem with the Museum became instantly apparent to its patrons.

The story of Hollywood’s founding is both exceptional and inspiring. A group of primarily Jewish émigrés arrived in America to escape anti-Semitic persecution in Europe and set up what would become a multibillion-dollar industry.

This includes Paramount Pictures co-founder Adolph Zukor, Warner Bros. founders Harry and Jack Warner, Universal Pictures co-founder Carl Laemmle, Columbia Pictures co-founder Harry Cohn, and MGM co-founders Sam Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer.

While partisan hatred may have marred the universal charms of what used to be wholesome entertainment, Hollywood still continues to captivate audiences globally and is likely to last as long as the human race.

Shockingly, the history of the origins of Hollywood and its Jewish founders at the Museum was conspicuous by its absence.

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There was even little reference of Jewish auteurs who shaped Hollywood. Sunset Boulevard director Billy Wilder was the only one who had a small placard next to one of his six Oscars noting that he fled Nazi Germany because of his religion.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, responded as follows:

“I would’ve hoped that any honest historical assessment of the motion picture industry — its origins, its development, its growth — would include the role that Jews played in building the industry from the ground up. As I walked through, I literally turned to the person I was there with and said to him, ‘Where are the Jews?’ The omission was glaring.”

Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, who made the largest donation of $50 million to the Museum told Rolling Stone that they “firmly believe that the Jewish contributions to the film industry, from its founding to today, should be highlighted.”

The director of the museum director and president, Bill Kramer said:

“Representation is so important to us, including our Jewish founders. If we are not talking about them in enough detail or more prominently, we want to hear that and we want to respond to that. And we’re really happy to be able to make a change and are going to course correct.”

Based on reports, this seems to be a case of exclusion and not an omission of details. 

Kramer later informed Rolling Stone that a year from now, the museum will launch an exhibit of the founding fathers and the birth of the studio system, which will mark the first and only permanent exhibition in the collection.

There has been scant coverage in the news media of this scandalous exclusion.

The issue was covered by Rolling Stone and also carried the Jewish publication Forward, as well as the Wrap, and a few others.

For any museum curator of any culture or organization, the top priority should be the details of its founding. While it may be essential to include contemporary figures in order that it appears relevant, without the founders the organization would never have existed. 

It is hence outrageous and revolting that the Jewish founders of Hollywood were excluded. The organizers may have said they will make amends, but it could be argued that the damage is already done.

We have to wonder why this glaring omission occurred.

It has to be remembered that in the past, despite having Jewish founders, many major Hollywood stars from the golden era such as Edward G. Robinson, Hedy LamarrLauren Bacall, and Kirk Douglas were compelled to opt for stage names to conceal their Jewish identity because of the bigotry within the industry and among audiences.

But those were the old days, contemporary Hollywood claims to celebrate a commitment to diversity and ‘representation.’ 

However, that commitment to diversity increasingly seems to exclude the Jewish people who are among the most persecuted groups in the history of mankind.

The focus is only on people of color and LGBTQ individuals.

Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogan, have spoken about anti-Semitism in contemporary Hollywood.

Perhaps woke liberal Hollywood is focused on the superficial and hence perceive the Jewish founders as people of ‘white privilege’ who were rich, and powerful people. Perhaps they blame these founders, much like the founding fathers of the nation, for systemic racism within the industry and hence think the founders do not deserve mention or respect.

Perhaps the top echelons of Hollywood, owing to their warped ideals see Israel as an aggressor and that somehow has translated into them thinking of the Jewish people as oppressors rather than oppressed.

In recent times there has been a blatant display of anti-Semitism.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson took to Instagram to express support for the Palestinian cause.

Other showbiz stars such as Susan Sarandon, Games of Thrones star Lena Headey, ‘comedian’ John Olivier, Roger Waters, Dua Lipa, Viola Davis, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and even Israeli-born Natalie Portman have expressed pro-Palestinian views.

The fear among people in Hollywood is that they may be ‘canceled’ for not toeing the line. 

Israeli Gal Gadot received backlash for supporting her homeland of Israel.

Hence the stars try to make an overt demonstration to appear as true believers of the groupthink.

Today, Israel is the only truly liberal, democratic, and pluralistic state in the Middle East. It is also the only true ally the U.S. has in the Middle East.  Isreal stands for diversity and tolerance, the very ideals that Hollywood claims to strive for. 

Yet the powerful in Hollywood seem to harbor an irrational dislike for Israel. 

Is this plain anti-Semitism, masquerading as a concern for Palestinians?

What is more amazing is that some prominent Jewish filmmakers have joined the groupthink.

Even Steven Spielberg who made the masterly Schindler’s List which was a profound tribute to the humanity of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust made the film called “Munich.” That film attempted to paint a false equivalence between the torture-murder terrorists who massacred Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympics and the Israeli government. It was abominable Palestinian propaganda.

The liberals in Hollywood keep falsely claiming that President Trump and his supporters for being Neo-Nazis.

By relentlessly discriminating against the Jewish people, it is they who are behaving like Neo Nazis.

The motives behind this shameful exclusion seem to be malicious rather than erroneous.

It is time for the powerful Jewish people to stand up for this bigotry. If they can exclude the founding father of Hollywood in a museum to celebrate showbiz, they can do anything.

The Holocaust remembrance falls on Jan. 27 this year, and silence at such time will be tantamount to complicity.