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Interview: ADL Head Says Gary Oldman’s Apology Reinforces Anti-Semitism

Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman said he doesn’t buy Gary Oldman’s apology, claiming his statement Wednesday reinforces anti-Semitic stereotypes.

“I think he feels bad about what he said, but the way he explains it underlines why he said what he said,” Foxman told Variety. “I’d like to see a little more introspection, a little more understanding and a little more education rather than a statement that looks like a PR move.”

The Oscar-nominated actor is in hot water over a recent Playboy interview in which he said that Mel Gibson’s career had cooled off because he worked “in a town that’s run by Jews” and “he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him.” Oldman was arguing that comedians get away with making politically incorrect jokes, but that Gibson and Alec Baldwin suffer far graver consequences for remarks that religious and minority groups find offensive.

Gibson and Baldwin have been criticized for using epithets that are anti-Jewish and anti-gay, respectively.

On Tuesday, Oldman apologized for his remarks in an open letter to the ADL.

“I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype,” Oldman said in a statement. “Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter. If, during the interview, I had been asked to elaborate on this point I would have pointed out that I had just finished reading Neal Gabler’s superb book about the Jews and Hollywood, ‘An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood.’ The fact is that our business, and my own career specifically, owes an enormous debt to that contribution.”

Foxman said that Oldman’s decision to mention the impact that Jewish artists and business people have had on the film industry in terms of their religious affiliation perpetrates the deleterious stereotype that they control the media business.

“The issue is not that there are Jews in Hollywood,” said Foxman. “Of course there are, but they don’t act as Jews. They’re producers, directors, actors and financial people who happen to be Jewish. It just continue this myth of Jewish control and this concept that they all get together at Katz’s Deli and decide what Hollywood’s message should be.”

Foxman said that Oldman’s remarks about Baldwin and comment, “fuck the Pope” (which appears to have been meant in jest), showed he suffered from other prejudices.

“He’s got homophobia problems, he’s got Catholic problems,” Foxman said. “He’s got a problem seeing people in stereotypical terms.”

Douglas Urbanski, Oldman’s manager and producing partner, released a statement earlier this week blasting the media for taking the actor’s comments out of context and painting him as a bigot. In an email to Variety, he hit back at Foxman’s claims that Oldman is homophobic and anti-Catholic.

“I am a hardcore Catholic and also his best friend,” Urbanski wrote. “In the 9 hours of the interview, Gary endorsed gay marriage — that was omitted from the piece.”

“On the topic of Mel Gibson, Gary specifically does not ‘defend’ him or anti-Semitism,” he added. “Noteworthy, however, is that other artists — specifically Robert Downey Jr. and Jodie Foster — have loudly defended Mel Gibson spanning the past few years.”

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