All year, the Writers Guild of America showed incredible unity about their strike. They fought the studios and won public support. In the end, they came out of the conflict with a strong contract and real camaraderie.
But since the grotesque attack on Israel October 7th, the WGA has remained silent. While other unions and groups have come to Israel’s defense and slammed Hamas, the WGA has come under criticism for not saying a word.
Until today, that is. Now they’ve issued the lamest statement ever. (See below.) The words ‘Israel’ and ‘Jewish’ don’t appear in it. The officers sign off ‘in solidarity’ but with what? Or whom? They’ve offended membership so callously that already one longtime member, Dan Gordon, has resigned. He said: “We had no trouble, as we should not have had, weighing in after George Floyd was killed. We had no problem, as we should not have had, weighing in on the #MeToo movement. No one said at the time, ‘I don’t want to offend Bill Cosby.’ And yet you’re witness to nothing less than the worst slaughter of Jews since Nazi Germany and you can’t find a word to say to condemn it.”
There will be more resignations, without a doubt. Gordon will go “fi-core,” something that’s frowned upon in normal times, so that he will work as a writer but not be included in things like WGA elections.
Read here the letter supporting Israel signed by dozens of well known Hollywood writers.
Here’s the disgraceful letter that went out today to WGA members.
The Guild’s decision not to issue a statement on the events of October 7th has caused pain within our membership that we did not intend. We believe it is important to both explain our process and to attempt to rectify the situation, as well as to unequivocally state that antisemitism and Islamophobia have no place in this Guild.
In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas attacks, we did not issue a public statement, not because we were not horrified by the atrocities, but because it felt outside the purview of a U.S. labor union representing writers to comment on it. This was and is a difficult balance to strike. We have, as a Guild, made statements on other occasions, which could be characterized as beyond our scope and want to offer some transparency here about our thinking. Those instances fell mainly under the umbrella of defending social justice in the U.S. or freedom of expression, and where possible, were connected back to writers’ working lives. But the list of national and international tragedies we have not commented on is large. We did not, for example, make a comment after Russia invaded Ukraine, nor on terrorist attacks in Somalia, Pakistan or elsewhere. It can be an imprecise science for a labor union to pick and choose where it weighs in on both domestic and world affairs.
Our board is diverse in its membership and points of view. The opinions from the board about whether to put out a statement did not fall along religious or sectarian lines and mirrored what we have seen play out in our membership as a whole and in the broader community. When we made the difficult choice not to make a statement, it was not because we are paralyzed by factionalism or masking hateful views. We are American labor leaders, aware of our limitations and humbled by the magnitude of this conflict. However, we understand this has caused tremendous pain and for that we are truly sorry.
All of us in Guild leadership are horrified by the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th. The murder of so many innocent people in Israel is an abomination. We deeply mourn the deaths of innocent Palestinians ensnared in the violence in Gaza. We feel for all our members who have been affected, directly and indirectly. We hope that wisdom prevails in the region – and for the safety of all innocent people caught in the escalating violence.
As we move forward, we ask everyone to treat each other with respect and patience in this horrible time. What any of us write and say should not put writers in peril with each other. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us.
None of this, of course, has any effect on the Israeli and Palestinian people. What they need from us is not an expression of our anger and distrust toward each other, but a shared commitment to peace and the value of every human life.
Meredith Stiehm, President
Michele Mulroney, Vice President
Betsy Thomas, Secretary-Treasurer