Just weeks after the Writers Guild of America showed solidarity by ending a months-long strike and voting overwhelmingly for a new contract with major entertainment companies, the union is being rocked by a row over its failure to make a public statement issued condemning Hamas’ attack on Israel.

On October 15, eight days after the attack, a group of screenwriters signed an open letter to the Writers Guild asking why it had not issued a statement condemning the attack. They noted that other major Hollywood unions had made such statements. The letter now has more than 300 signatories, including Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Sherman-Palladino (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) and Gideon Raff (“Homeland”).

Questions were raised as to why the Writers Guild had previously made public statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the #MeToo reckoning, but remained silent “as terrorists invaded Israel to murder, rape and kidnap Jews “.

On Friday, 75 members of the guild attended a Zoom meeting to discuss what to do about the silence. According to a person who took part in the discussion and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, options included withholding contributions until the guild leadership schedules a proper discussion with its members about the issue. Other members are considering leaving the guild and applying for “Financial Core” status, in which they would pay reduced dues and continue to receive the contractual benefits of the collective bargaining agreement.

Later Friday, Meredith Stiehm, president of the Writers Guild of America West, sent an email to members who had inquired about the lack of response. “Like the members themselves, the board’s viewpoints vary, and we found that consensus was elusive,” she wrote in the letter, seen by The New York Times. “For these reasons, we have decided not to make a public statement.”

Calls to the union on Monday were not returned.

Jewish leaders have encouraged Hollywood’s biggest voices to speak out in support of Israel.

“When celebrities speak out, it sends an important message to their tens of millions of followers that this is the right side,” Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Hollywood Reporter .

“Given how distorting social media algorithms can represent the world,” he added, “it is even more important that these voices prevail.”

The writers’ union isn’t the only Hollywood organization dealing with the fallout.

On Sunday, Creative Artists Agency announced to its employees that Maha Dakhil, the highest-ranking female agent in the film group, had resigned from the company’s internal board and would step down from her leadership role within the film group after she posted inflammatory remarks on Instagram, who accused Israel of committing genocide.

Ms Dakhil has apologized for her comments. It will continue to represent its clients, which include Natalie Portman, Tom Cruise and Reese Witherspoon, according to an email from the agency’s chief executive, Bryan Lourd, which was reviewed by The Times.

Source : www.nytimes.com

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