(JTA) — A U.S. Jewish group has called on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind its decision to award an honorary Oscar to a filmmaker it calls "a virulent anti-Semite."
The academy will award French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard with the Oscar at a ceremony Nov. 13.
Morton Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said in a statement that it was a "disgrace" that the academy would bestow an honorary Oscar on "an outspoken, long-standing anti-Semite" like Godard.
“The Academy’s decision to bestow an honorary Oscar on Godard should be rescinded immediately," the statement said, "and we call upon all American Jewish organizations and all people of goodwill to demand likewise.”
Two new biographies about Godard have highlighted what some see as the filmmaker’s anti-Semitism. One claims that his friendship with fellow French cinema New Wave movement colleague Francois Truffaut dissolved over Godard’s anti-Semitism — Truffaut had a Jewish father.
Expression that some deem anti-Semitic has made its way into Godard’s films, the Forward reported, with one character stating in his 1964 movie “A Married Woman”: “Today, in Germany, I said to someone, ‘How about if tomorrow, we kill all the Jews and the hairdressers.’ He replied, ‘Why the hairdressers?’ ”
In his 2010 film "Socialism Film," a character says, “Strange thing Hollywood — Jews invented it.”
The Forward submitted some of Godard’s perceived anti-Semitic statements to the motion picture academy.
"The Academy is aware that Jean-Luc Godard has made statements in the past that some have construed as anti-Semitic," the academy responded. "We are also aware of detailed rebuttals to that charge. Anti-Semitism is of course deplorable, but the Academy has not found the accusations against M. Godard persuasive.”
In its statement, the ZOA said that "[Godard’s] directorial talents are in this instance irrelevant: the academy would never consider bestowing an honorary Oscar on another director, no matter how brilliant or accomplished, if he was an anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, or anti-Muslim bigot. Quite rightly, they would not wish in any way to lend honor and respectability to such a person. However, when it comes to hatred directed towards Jews, the Academy looks the other way and finds blatant examples of hatred, like those reproduced above, as ‘not persuasive.’ "