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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Calls for Gaza cease-fire mark 96th Academy Awards

We 'refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people,' says director Jonathan Glazer in acceptance speech for Holocaust film The Zone of Interest

Protests against rising the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli attacks, as well as a speech by award-winning director Jonathan Glazer condemning the enclave’s occupation by Israel, made a significant impact on the 96th Academy Awards ceremony late Sunday.

Ahead of the Oscars, pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the ceremony took place, demonstrating for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, blocking the road, and chanting slogans such as, “Free Palestine” and “Cease-fire in Gaza now.”

Read more: Oscars 2024: Full list of winners at 96th Academy Awards

While traffic ground to a standstill as police took security measures in the surrounding area, many famous Hollywood stars, including Ramy Youssef, Mark Ruffalo, and Billie Eilish, posed on the red carpet with red pins to support the cease-fire demands at the ceremony, which began late due to the demonstration.

“We are calling for an urgent and lasting ceasefire in Gaza. We are calling for peace and lasting justice for the Palestinian people. This is actually a universal message: Stop killing children,” actor Youssef told reporters before the event began.

‘How do we resist?’

Jonathan Glazer, who won Best International Feature Film with The Zone of Interest, a film about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories in his acceptance speech.

“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,'” said the Jewish writer and director of the German-language British production.

Read more: Oscars 2024: Full list of winners at 96th Academy Awards

“Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst … 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,” he declared.

“Whether the victims of October the seventh in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all are victims of this dehumanization. How do we resist?”

Nearly 31,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, and over 72,700 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of most food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.