Actress Meryl Streep Blasts Walt Disney as Anti-Semitic; ZOA Condemns Actress Emma Thompson

January 9, 2014 2:48 pm 47 comments
Walt Disney, in 1954. Photo: WikiCommons.

Walt Disney, in 1954. Photo: WikiCommons.

Hollywood actress Meryl Streep blasted Walt Disney as an anti-Semitic misogynist in an unusually long and scathing speech at a film awards dinner on Tuesday night, Variety reported on Thursday.

Ironically, Streep’s nine-minute speech was to honor the actress who portrayed ‘Mary Poppins’ creator P.L. Travers in The Walt Disney Company’s ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’  Emma Thompson, who the Zionist Organization of America denounced on Thursday for her letter in the Guardian advocating for a boycott of Israel’s Habima Theater troupe, which is to perform later this year at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, in London.

Variety aptly described the scene at the awards dinner on Tuesday night: “The National Board of Review dinner is like the big pre-game to the Golden Globes, where wine bottles are uncorked in New York and don’t stop flowing until the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s gala on Sunday. But this year’s ceremony will forever be remembered for its nine-minute tour-de-force speech from Meryl Streep.”

“There was plenty of effusive Thompson praising in the speech — with phrases like ‘she’s practically a saint’ and ‘she’s a beautiful artist’ — and it ended with a poem that Streep had written for her friend titled ‘An Ode to Emma, Or What Emma is Owed.’ But Streep also made a point of blasting Walt Disney for his sexist and anti-Semitic stances.”

According to Variety, “Streep talked about how Disney ‘supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group’ and called him a ‘gender bigot.’ She read a letter that his company wrote in 1938 to an aspiring female animator. It included the line, ‘Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men.’”

Disney biographer Neal Gabler, the first writer to gain unrestricted access to the Disney archives, wrote that while many of his attitudes against Jews were common during his time, Disney’s reputation as an anti-Semite was largely from his association with groups who were clearly anti-Semitic.

In a CBS interview, Gabler said:

“That’s one of the questions everybody asks me… My answer to that is, not in the conventional sense that we think of someone as being an anti-Semite. But he got the reputation because, in the 1940s, he got himself allied with a group called the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, which was an anti-Communist and anti-Semitic organization. And though Walt himself, in my estimation, was not anti-Semitic, nevertheless, he willingly allied himself with people who were anti-Semitic, and that reputation stuck. He was never really able to expunge it throughout his life.”

Separately, in a statement on Thursday, the ZOA condemned actress Thompson and three dozen other British actors who demanded that London’s Globe Theater dis-invite Israel’s Habima for “associating itself with policies of exclusion practiced by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theater company.”

Habima is scheduled to perform in a six-week theatrical festival at the Globe. The ZOA noted the actors’ hypocrisy for calling out Israel while failing to boycott the National Theater of China, which is participating in the same festival.

ZOA National President Mort Klein said, “We condemn Emma Thompson and her colleagues for their advocacy of boycotting Israel’s famed Habima Theater. Their call is in no way justified, or in any way less serious or worthy of condemnation, because Habima has refused to boycott a cultural center that opened in Ariel.”

“We also note the rank hypocrisy of Thompson and her ilk condemning Habima and seeking its boycott — but having no problem with the National Theater of China participating in the same festival, even though China’s observance of human rights is, to put it mildly, abysmal,” Klein said.

“Emma Thompson and these other actors are clearly people who, because they are celebrities, enjoy unmerited influence and ability to publicize their political views. This places an even greater responsibility on them to think carefully before speaking on political matters, which they have clearly failed. They deserve to be condemned and shunned by the Jewish, pro-Israeli community and all other people of goodwill. We urge everyone to boycott Emma Thompson’s current movie, ‘Saving Mr. Banks.’”


  • Michele LeConche

    I will no longer go to see Emma Thompson. How ignorant! She needs to rethink what she supports. Obviously she is unaware of Israel’s human rights record and the human rights record of the Arab world. Shame on you Emma you are nothing more than a bigot and I will not be joining you at the movies!!!

  • STREEP remains a terminally ‘on board’ —-CYPHER.

  • I find it hard to beleave that Walt Disney was an antisemite. I need more evidence than the little bit that is in this article. Could you please print more of Merle Streep’s speech?

    • Anyone from that time period would have said things that would be seen as anti-Semitic with our modern eyes. The country was anti-Semitic. The same thing is true of racism; please find me a White person from that time who did not think Black people were inferior. As for sexism, the same thing again holds.

      Disney produced many very effective anti-Nazi cartoons, some of which directly attacked Nazi racist ideology. That should be enough for anyone. The worst thing to do is to take someone out of their time & society & whack them because they do not hew to our modern values.

      • I’d also like to add that Disney had a Priest, a Preacher and a Rabbi at the grand opening of Disneyland.

        I think his alliance/founding MPAPAI was a business move. During world war II, and particularly the the red scare period that followed, anyone who was both in the entertainment industry and didn’t have affiliations with an anti-Comunist organization was heavily scrutinized and criminalized by the U.S. government. It’s unfortunate that other members of the MPAPAI were anti-Semitic.

        The only other stigma that I can think of regarding anti-Semetic behavior is that Walt really didn’t like beards. He obviously didn’t mind mustaches, but didn’t tolerate beards. That is not the same as disliking Jews … he just didn’t approve of his workers or cast members having chin hair.

        Martial is also right in that the time period surrounding WWII was filled with anti-Semitic mindsets and propaganda. Disney did not produce any anti-Semite propaganda, and if we’re to judge him on the work he produced, considering all the very “racist” anti-Nazi cartoons, he should be lauded, not condemned.

    Since they want to imitate antisemites, let that bunch of leftists get some of their own medicine.

  • It seems to me the Emma Thomson’s of the world, in a negative way do a good service when they bring Israel’s name before the world, It is abundantly clear Israel are no ordinary people, God assembled them and gave them the name Israel ( to contend with God). Those people that have taken the time to understand what God has said what he will do with mankind, will no he has used the Jewish people to show his word is not to be taken lightly and what has said would happen to them has happened and is happening, Emma Thompson’s of the world show Gods word is Deadly accurate.
    Seems to me people should look past the obvious and look for what is said to be the conclusion of the matter, the controversy of Zion Fulfilled. ( the exposure of all lies about Israel) Emma Thompson’s of this world work will be done. It’s not really Israel people fear, but the God behind them, for it’s God who has shaped the people that they are, the same way he has formed a people for his name from the Gospel message from the Gentile world.

  • My personal boycott list keeps expanding. Now I’m adding Emma Thompson to Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, the NY Times, the Brooklyn College Foundation, Vanessa Redgrave, and Sean Penn as those I refuse to patronize.


    Meryl Streep raises many issues here. Yes, Walt Disney may very well been sexist, judging by the quotes on the female restrictions on animated work.

    I don’t think membership in the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals made someone an anti-semite. Here were Hollywood stalwarts who were strongly anti-communist in opposition to the growing leftist sympathist sympathies of their time in the industry. Yes, the red scare may have led to unfair blacklisting, yet I don’t see how we can tarnish all anti-communists with the same broad brush, as if they were collectively guilty for the sins perpetuated by the likes of Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Committee. It would be nice if the Hollywood bigwigs of today showed more sympathy to political conservatives working in their industry. If anyone in Hollywood today is conservative, he or she stays quiet about it.

    John Wayne belonged to this organization. Did that make hum an anti-semite?

    There is strong evidence against Walt Disney having been an anti-semite. In the late 50s on, he befriended a former fierce Jewish competitor, Max Fleischer, creator of the original Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons. I know this from the bonus features on a Popeye dvd I own.

    After the Fleischer studios went bankrupt and were taken over by Paramount, many former Fleischer animators wound up working for Disney. In the late 50s, Walt put together a reunion, and Max attended and the two became friends. Does this strike you as an anti-semite?


    Funny how people hate Israel and say terrible things about Israel, but they never mention Syria, Iran, China, North Korea, etc, etc, as the champions of human rights violators!!………Ah, but a small country of 7 million people (2 million arabs) is the rotten apple!!!!!…..RUBISH.

  • I am not going to see “Saving Mr.Banks”

    • I won’t see anything in which Thompson and her allies appear. And there are lots of showbiz “luvvies” who believe that their opinions are important enough to blurt them out in public. Some who are Jewish by birth but not by practice or conviction, hold press conferences when Israel has to take action to defend itself, at which they declare, “not in my name”, as if Israel would do anything in the name of these hypocrites. As if Israel has even heard of these “here today and gone tomorrow” non-entities.

  • Emma Thompson herself admits she’s an atheist and an anarchist.
    I’m surprised she’s not visiting North Korea with Dennis Rodman.
    Thompson has said of her religious views: “I’m an atheist; I suppose you can call me a sort of libertarian anarchist. I regard religion with fear and suspicion. It’s not enough to say that I don’t believe in God

    • Who cares about Thompson and her beliefs? She is not an important person. In a few years she’ll be forgotten but Israel will still be here.

  • The Bottom line is that actors should act and keep their damn mouth shut. They are the most ungrateful overpaid bastards in the World. This is outrageous that folks listen to their views. Their brain is filled with scripts written by someone else. Then when they open their mouth with their opinions they put their foot in it. Where do they get off thinking that their opinion really matters? Shame on the media and general public for listening to their crap.

  • Brandt!
    You are an idiot!
    Your humour isn’t making me laugh!

  • Emma Thompson is a bigot and we have every right to condemn her views. She’s made her views very clear. She should have the right to do that in my opinion. She is just exposing who and what she really is. It’s unfortunate for her that being a great actress doesn’t make your views acceptable to everyone. She’ll have to live with that.

  • If Walt was an anti-semite, why did he have on his staff the song writing team of the Sherman Brothers. They were Jewish.

    They never said a bad word about Walt who was good to them.

    • The most accomplished antisemites tend to have on their staff, the Theobald Jews, pet Jews who sing to their tune, so as to give specious legitimacy to their Jew-hating agenda.

      I am surprised that that does not occur to you.

  • I love how these artists like Emma Thompson make their living working for Jews but at the same time have no trouble condemning Jews and Israel out of all the countries in the world. I would like Emma Thompson to come out publicly and say exactly what her views are. Even in Vanessa Redgrave’s anti-Zionist Oscar speech she pledged to fight against ant-Semitism. I’m not so sure where Emma Thompson stands but I am very disappointed by her anti-Israel stance and would think twice about supporting any of her acting ventures in the future.

    • Yes but these Jews should start boycotting Emma Thompson and all people and organizations that are anti-Semitic. Use their power and money to aid in the survival of their people for as Israel goes so goes all Jews.

  • Not allow is she an anti-Semite herself – she also supports child rapists

  • Margarita Saul

    Being a good actress like Em, or a good singer like Kirkby, shouldn’t mean that their opinion (which they have a right to voice) should be more qualified than mine, or anybody else’s as a matter of fact. My opinion is, judge actors by their acting, and singers by their singing. As to their words…. Who cares what they think? Their opinion is as good as anybody else’s. I don’t listen to artists when they get like that. I judge them by their art and treat everything else they do as human frailty. Besides, if they were well informed, they wouldn’t be such good artists. They are too busy to have a well formed opinion about topics that have nothing to do with their art. So, they talk… Let them talk, artists are their art, art is their better part. Not so much: forgive them, rather: ignore them.:)
    Don’t boycott artists, listen to Wagner, enjoy both Emma’s art. But whatever they think about the real world :) …. Frankly , dear, I don’t give a damn…. :)

    • I think the most effective way for anyone who wants to make people aware of this matter is to make a comment on IMDB, Amazon, Netflix, to the effect of not watching whatever .., because of anti Jewish sentiment of an actor.

  • bravo meryl ilfaut dire la verite et je pense ala representation chinoise pourquoi boy cotte toujour israel

  • Whilst there may be a merging of a current and past story here (I believe the letter to The Guardian was published in 2012 when Habima was singled out by Em and her pals from theatre companies around the world performing in the Shakespeare cultural olympiad in London) yep they didn’t feel strongly about China, the important point is to ‘out’ Emma T, for example, her active support for the ENOUGH! coalition back in 2007 and PalFest as they say she’s got form and if anyone cares to interview her on the topic she’ll make clear her position.

  • Joseph Silver

    The thing about attacking Walt Disney as anti-Semitic now is, Meryl Streep gets her ‘street cred’ as a fighter against anti- Semitism by condemning a man dead 48 years, while she praises and lionises a living woman who is virulently anti-Semitic right now.
    Good act, Meryl. Of course, you are an actress…

  • And Streep’s point in blasting a man who has been dead for 45 year?

  • She has drunk the Kool-Aid served by the Abbas-led haters of Israel and Jews in general.

    This script reads like 1939 deja vu’.

  • Vicki Coghlan

    I was actually going to go and see Saving Mr Banks.
    Not Now!
    I never thought Emma Thompson as a bigoted anti semetic!
    It’s interesting when you scratch the surface to see what’s there!
    I’m very disappointed with Emma.
    Long Live Israel!!

    • Shalom-Hillel

      I saw “Saving Mr Banks” before knowing about her anti-Israel bias. The trailer makes the movie look good, but I have to tell you I was disappointed. You will not be losing much by not seeing it.

  • Ariella Bergier

    I very much regret that I have already seen Ms. Thompson in the movie. Whlile she appears to be a smart and worldly person it has become glaringly obvious that she is little more than a petty minded bigot who chooses her “ideals” and “just causes” on the basis of frivolous and unfounded accusations and inaccuracies. How sad and undignified for her to choose to ignore the genuine moral atrocities which occur regularly in the world and instead use her celebrity to pick on the only democracy in the middle-east which offers true equality and respect to all of it’s citizens regardless of race, gender or religious belief. She could not have actually checked on Israel’s human rights record or she would have seen a thriving democracy who treats it’s enemies and murderoous prisoners far better than any of it’s neighbors treat their ciitizens. Ms. Thompson is simply venting mean spiritedness and ignorance. She can not reasonably think this will garner her any additional fans since we all know that not many people, especially women, in the Islamic world will be watching western movies (especially ones which depict strong female characters). Not unless they wish to risk public humilliation, beatings, divorce, losing their children and possibly even death. Shame on you Emma! Not for picking on Israel who can defend itself, especially in matters of morality, quite well. But for not lifting a finger to stand up for individuals living in truly awful and oppressive conditions who have no voice or ray of hope.

  • BuckDePublick

    I’m waiting for the Hollyweird leftist, lunatic losers (self-haters included) to make a celebratory movie about the brave, tough Jews who made Israel a reality in the face of a Jew-hating world….still waiting…*but only our Christian friends and supporters would make a movie like this!

  • Nath Khodadad

    Shame of Emma Thompson for for joining the ranks of that
    Anti Israel rag : The Guardian Newpaper !!

    She certainly does not enter the league of Mel Gibson, but she has left a bitter taste for me, and I will be
    reluctant to view any more of her movies…

    • Salomon dayan

      I think it is only right to boycott all the movies or plays in which she stars. Let give her some of her own medicine. Her actions only confirms what I have felt: she and many of her ills are just uneducated bigots

    • Joseph Silver

      Emma Thompson is actually worse than Mel Gibson. His excuse each time is that he was drunk.
      She has been very ‘anti-Israeli’ (ie., anti-Semitic) for years, and very open about it. She’s almost as bad as Vanessa Redgrave, who danced around with terrorists in Lebanon holding up an AK-47 (Kalatchnikov).
      All three (Thompson, Gibson, and V.Redgrave) should be boycotted.
      Shabbat Shalom,

  • I’m sick of people separating human rights issues relating to Israel from human rights issues internationally.
    -avoiding Emma Thomson and her bigoted, ilk IS NOT merely a Jewish issue – it’s an issue for all who value free speech and human rights internationally. She and her ilk are bigots, so Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Moslems, atheists and all sensible humans need to let her and her bigoted friends know how we feel….

  • M.A. Kinamohn

    I would not lower myself to watch any of their movies!

  • I sincerely hope Jews will boycott the movie “Saving Mr Banks” and all movies with Thompson.
    Who are the other “artists” ?

    • I, for one, will never support a Thompson film again. I also would like to know who the other British actors are.

  • Hollywood should boycott Emma Thompson… just playing her cards ….

  • stuart handelsman

    i had heard this for years about disney. wonder what tom hanks has to say.
    very disappointed in emma thompson. i will not see her movies

  • Meryl shouldn’t be worrying about the legacy of a man far stiffer than she is. That plastic face is cracking but she doesn’t look any worse for wear on the Zombie Walk of Fame at

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