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WOWS 7: And the Oscar goes to…

Thane Rosenbaum - What Others Won't Say

by Laura Kessler

Thane Rosenbaum addresses the shocking Jonathan Glazer scandal at the Oscars in the latest episode of What Others Won’t Say. 

With Senior Political & Cultural
Analyst Thane Rosenbaum

Thane’s Monologue:

And the Oscar for Jewish self-hatred goes to … more about that later.

Long before anyone had ever seen Holocaust movies like “Schindler’s List,” “The Pianist,” and “Sophie’s Choice,” an iconic American funnyman, director, writer and sight-gag specialist, Jerry Lewis, back in 1972, directed the film, “The Day the Clown Cried.”

Don’t remember seeing it?  Well, that’s because it was never released, and to this day, the whereabouts of the original print remains a mystery. The film was instantly deemed unwatchable.

It was about a washed-up circus clown, interned in Auschwitz, who leads the children to the gas chambers.  1972 was a mere 27 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.  Everything about the film violated the moral and aesthetic principles of art.  It dared to reimagine the death camps, factories of mass murder, where the systematic extermination, and then cremation, of two out of every three Jews of Europe was largely achieved.

A clown misleading the children to their deaths?  Even Lewis never wanted anyone to see the movie.  He was mortified by it.  The producers blamed him, but they, too, understood that audiences were not ready for such a grotesque cinematic spectacle.

Less than a week ago, a Holocaust film received an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.  It depicted life directly outside of Aushwitz—the blithely desensitized, normalized life of the camp’s commandant.  How did this high-ranking Nazi and his family manage to live so closely to the barbaric, so obtuse to the atrocious, so casually unaffected by what was taking place on the other side of their garden?

The idea of the film is not really all that original.  “Sophie’s Choice” covered the same blood-soaked ground and ashen skies.

But what was unexpected on Oscar night was the acceptance speech of the film’s director.  Having made a film that explored the extreme consequences of moral failure, he created his own, informing a global audience: “We stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.”

Yeah, he was referring to Israel and its war in Gaza.  He was comparing Israel’s war of self-defense to the Nazi genocide of Jews; and Hamas’ citizen army of human shields to six million Jewish victims.  He wanted the world to know that he wasn’t at all like the Jews in Israel who kill Palestinians.  He was morally superior to them, and wanted the Hollywood elite to know that he can and should be invited to glamorous parties because he had just renounced his Jewishness.

The Jews of Europe didn’t launch rockets at Germany for 20 years.  Jews never beheaded German babies or burned them alive.  They didn’t gang rape and mutilate German teenage girls.  They weren’t terrorists.  They were truly innocent civilians.

Ironically, this film director made a movie about monsters, and then somehow misidentified what modern monsters look like.  It was his people who had hijacked the Holocaust for their own murderous ends.

He could have told the audience: “It’s happening again.  And we promised Never Again.  To my people.  Return the hostages!”

Instead, the director exposed himself as a clown.

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