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Hollywood and Anti-Semitism

November 20, 1994

* Responding to Neal Gabler's attack against William Cash's article in Vanity Fair, "The New Establishment," I was struck by how obsessed Gabler is with Judaism; his own and others ("In a Lament of the Old 'Establishment,' Hollywood Encounters Anti-Semitism," Opinion, Nov. 13).

Gabler rails against Cash for what he deems to be his "anti-Semitism" when Cash was merely stating a fact: the majority of high-level executives working in Hollywood today are Jewish males. So what? Cash's statement is no more remarkable than the New York City Police Department being staffed mainly by Irish-Americans or that most sushi chefs are Japanese. Nonetheless, Gabler feels compelled to go on the defensive and hurl invective at what he wrongly assumes are mainstream Gentile biases against Jews.

In my limited experience as a screenwriter in Hollywood, I fortunately have not experienced the hostile, racist environment Gabler describes. The problems I do encounter have more to do with the sheer difficulty of trying to crank out decent product.

When I go to story meetings, I don't perceive that my ideas are shot down because I'm a white female of Irish Catholic descent, as Gabler's thesis would suggest, but because they weren't very inspired, or because they're not what the producer wants. I don't pay attention as to whether a particular suggestion is from a Jew or a Gentile, a man or woman, an Asian or a Caucasian, but instead am grateful for anything that could help.

Contrary to Gabler's jaundiced point of view, most people in Hollywood don't sit around thinking about the implications of last names; they're too busy making movies. I bristle at the Hollywood Gabler describes because it does a disservice to people of all faiths in trying to find fault where there is none.

ELISE LANGAN

Santa Monica

* Thank you for publishing Gabler's review of Cash's article on Jews in Hollywood.

In this era of political correctness, American Jews increasingly allow small and large anti-Semitic sentiments to diminish our contributions. We think that we are safe from the demagoguery of the past. But, as Gabler notes, the really offensive bile, the stuff that destroys one's soul, comes in the well-mannered, reasonable, high-minded verbiage of the thoughtful intellectual journals.

Cash wouldn't know anti-Semitism if it hit him in the face. Like all too many bigots, he thinks that reasonable people will grant him license to offend. He's wrong.

MORLEY D. GLICKEN

Professor of Social Work

Cal State, San Bernardino

* Bravo to the wonderful Gabler piece, condemning racial bile at its most venomous. How ironic that this column should appear two days after another racial bon mot appears in Calendar when your television critic, Howard Rosenberg, in his critique of "Scarlett," referred to the Irish people as "potatoheads."

Food for thought, no doubt. Frankly, Mr. Rosenberg, I do give a damn.

SHAY DUFFIN

Redondo Beach

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