Yishai Jusidman

ATTN: Jonathan || RE:Your Speech of Interest

Generated with AI ∙ March 13, 2024 at 8:53 AM

All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present. Not to say “look what they did then”—rather “look what we do now.” Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present. Right now, 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. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization. How do we resist? As Alexandra Bystroń-Kołodziejczyk, the girl who glows in the film, as she did in her life, chose to. I dedicate this film to her memory and her resistance.

Jonathan Glazer at the Oscars, March 10, 2024


Jonathan dear,

Congrats on your amazing Oscar. You really glowed like Alexandra up there on the podium! And your speech…! OMG… It killed! Rocked the house! A deluge of new projects will be raining on you in no time. Remember, rack up your rates already!

Just between us, about that hairdo—believe me—it didn’t help the pathos. No big deal. But should also confess I was a bit confused by what you said up there. Do you mind my sending a few queries below? Wouldn’t want to end up with the wrong impression…

I haven’t had a chance to see it, but I understand your movie is about the domestic life of the German supervisor at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. I imagined the movie would indeed reflect and confront us with what the Nazis did back then. If that was not at all the point, but—as you insist—it was to reflect and confront us in the present with “what we do now,” might you be referring by “what we do now” to the movies you people make us watch? Was that an ironic, self-deprecating sleight at the banality of Hollywood? I kind of doubt it, because you take yourself rather seriously as a moviemaker. Don’t you? Evidently, I don’t quite get it.

The lament about dehumanization [having] shaped all of our past and present. What was that all about? I never thought things are that awful, man. I mean… seriously? Let me put my befuddlement this way: If you’re claiming that to dehumanize is wrong, I suppose it follows that to humanize is right. I guess Hollywood has been in the right business for shaping our present by humanizing just about everything. Like humanizing a sponge and calling it Bob. Could it be that your over-humanized perception of a dehumanized world below the Hollywood Hills is somewhat divorced from how things have always been down here (sponges included)? Consider it for a moment. A sponge is a sponge. It’s not such deep stuff. Let me know.

Of course, there’s that thing about your Jewishness, and of the partners you spoke for. You condemn (yes, you said refute, but that was a bit misleading) your Jewishness being highjacked. Now I’m completely mystified. I’d swear you three are Jews not by virtue of the Jewish people belonging to you three, but you three belonging to the Jewish people. The Jewish people highjacking your Jewishness? That makes no sense whatsoever. Frankly, wouldn’t it be better to just cut to the chase and simply say you no longer wish to belong to our club? You guys won’t be the first.

As for the occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people, if you had thought about it for an extra second, couldn’t you have figured it’s actually the conflict that led to the occupation? C’mon, it’s not like it’s the chicken/egg conundrum. The conflict had been going for decades prior to the occupation. And what has the occupation to do with the war in Gaza anyway? As far as I’m aware, Gaza had not been occupied by the Israelis for 18 years on October 7… Perhaps occupation was also a poor choice of word for what you intended to express?

Granted, sometimes words just fail us. In fairness, maybe my puzzlement comes from reading your remarks too literally. I take you may have wished to paint your movie as a parable of the ongoing Gaza war for the Oscars’ crowd, even-though it was made before the present calamity was foreseen by anyone. OK, there’s a fence around Gaza just as there was one around Auschwitz. That much is true. So, let’s follow through with your analogy.

Your emphatic call to “resist” (whatever that means) at Gaza as the glowing Alexandra Bystroń-Kołodziejczyk did at Auschwitz led me to Wikipedia, where I learned she placed fruit near the fence such that inmates could grab it. I wonder, Jonathan, have you placed any fruit yourself on the Gaza fence? I haven’t. But I know of people who did, plenty. They saved a few lives in Gaza, “resisting” (whatever that means) as Alexandra did, and more. Take Vivian Silver, who founded Women Wage Peace, a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian women, and who also devoted her time to driving Gazan children to hospitals in Israel for critical care. If Alexandra glowed, so did Vivian, as did scores of Israeli activists who lived near Gaza. Hundreds of them also met Vivian’s fate, savagely murdered by Palestinian terrorists on October 7. Did you mean to suggest by analogy that, had the Jews broken through Auschwitz’s fence, Alexandra would have been slaughtered, raped and dismembered by the very people she was helping? I hope that’s not what you had in mind…  Or did I miss something?

Yeah, death is an awful thing. Killing innocent people is another awful thing. Not surprised you got a standing ovation for conveying as much to the bejeweled botoxcracy. But killings differ in their degree of awfulness. That’s why the law sets them on a scale of gravity. Here in the USA there’s justifiable homicide, involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, felony murder, second-degree murder. And then there’s the most awful of killings, first degree murder, which is willful and premeditated with malice aforethought. This pretty much describes the killing of Vivian Silver. Don’t you agree?

For sure, thousands of civilian fatalities in Gaza are a real awful thing as well. We all concur. Everyone knows those would not have occurred had Hamas refrained from deploying Palestinian civilians as human shields. And everyone knows those could stop immediately were Hamas to surrender. We can argue as to the degree of gravity of such deaths on the legal scale, without ever seeing eye to eye. But by drawing a crude equivalence between the murder of Vivian Silver and the civilian fatalities in a war, aren’t you missing a fundamental point about what truly defines our humanity? Allow me to answer this one: Yes, you are. And the point is: we can tell there’s a difference.



About the Author
Yishai is a contemporary painter and occasional art critic, born in Mexico City, based in Los Angeles and soon migrating to moshav Tal Shachar. His artwork has been shown worldwide in prestigious international exhibitions. A recent series, "Prussian Blue", deals with the aesthetic challenges of Holocaust remembrance through art, and has been shown, among other institutions, at the Mishkan Museum of Art in Ein Harod in 2021. His writing has been published in Artforum, Art Issues, Los Angeles Times, Cleveland Review of Books, and more.
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