(JTA) — The Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles said it escorted a Jewish producer off the stage for his own safety, and not because he made remarks critical of President Donald Trump.
Some audience members booed Jason Blum and some in the crowd of 1,200 walked out of the venue on Tuesday evening after Blum accused Trump of fomenting rising anti-Semitism in the United States.
The festival denied earlier reports that Blum was then forcibly removed from the stage, saying they escorted him off when an angry audience member charged the podium.
The festival said in a statement: “A majority of the 1,200+ audience was respectful as Blum was making his remarks. To be clear, the Festival did not in any way remove Jason Blum from the stage. To protect him when an audience member in no way associated with the Festival charged the podium, the Festival security ushered Blum off the stage.”
Blum, who is Jewish, was onstage at the Saban Theater to receive the festival’s Achievement in Film & Television Award.
“The good thing about this country is that you get to like Trump, but I don’t have to and I don’t like him,” Blum said in acceptace remarks, according to Deadline. “We have a president who calls the press the enemy of the people. Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”
Some in the crowd yelled “get off the stage” and “we like Donald” at Blum, who has produced films such as “Get Out” and “Whiplash,” Deadline reported.
As Blum continued speaking, a festival organizer came on stage and called for security as one audience member appeared to pull down Blum, leading to others jumping on the stage to assist him. After insisting that “you are going to have to drag me off the stage,” Blum exited on his own with protection from the venue’s security.
The Israeli Film Festival is sponsored by the Adelson Foundation, the charitable organization established by Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a major giver to Republican candidates ahead of Tuesday’s elections as well as to Trump in his run for the presidency. The Hollywood Reporter is a co-sponsor of the event.
Israeli director Avi Nesher, who received the Cinematic Achievement Award, also addressed the current political situation.
“Americans [also] have their issues with some of the political leadership in this country,” Nesher said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I, too, am an American citizen, and I, too, am worried about the state of affairs in this country. My parents are immigrants — twice, once to Israel and once to this country. I have been observing with horror the hate mongering which has become the order of the day for the American administration, and the Israeli one. That’s why we make movies. To entertain, but also to think.”
Festival director and founder Meir Fenigstein told The Hollywood Reporter that “this is the first time we have ever experienced anything like this, and I am in total shock, but I understand that this is a very tense day in America with the elections. This is not the place for politics and I remain apolitical.”
Blum later tweeted the speech he had planned to give, in which he said, in part: “Those election results are pouring in as I speak. And so much is on the line. The past two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country. The sense of community that has bound us together for generations is all but gone.”