Hollywood Marketing Guru Fuels Controversy by Telling Staffers to Refrain From Working With Anyone ‘Posting Against Israel’

A prominent Hollywood marketing and branding guru has raised eyebrows by telling staffers that they should refrain from working with anyone who is “posting against Israel.”

Ashlee Margolis, founder of the Beverly Hills firm The A List, wrote an email to her staff about a new mandate to hit “pause on working with any celebrity or influencer or tastemaker posting against Israel.” The company, which is a fixture on red carpets and is at the forefront of brand integration with celebrities, works with such companies as CAA, UTA, Lede Company and Wolf Kasteler Public Relations.

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In the email, Margolis stressed that there was a distinction between what she deemed acceptable and unacceptable social media posts about the country and its current military operations in Gaza. “Anyone saying Israel is committing a ‘genocide’ is someone we will pause on working with, as that is simply not true,” the veteran marketing executive wrote. “While Jews are devastated by the loss of innocent lives in Gaza, we are feeling immense fear over the rising Jew Hatred all over the world.”

Margolis declined comment. Sources familiar with the situation note that The A List has a decades-long history of advocating for fairness and the wellbeing of others. They add that the intention of the email was to reiterate that the company is strictly anti hate and will not be a part of perpetuating harmful speech and behavior against any community.

The email comes amid a growing divide in Hollywood over the subject of Israel that emerged in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the Nova Music Festival and nearby homes in Southern Israel. Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 250 others during the surprise attack. Israel’s military response in Gaza has resulted in more than 34,000 Palestinians being killed.

In the immediate aftermath of Oct. 7, a handful of people were dropped from projects and agencies over their controversial posts and comments on the subject including Melissa Barrera, who was fired from “Scream VII,” and Susan Sarandon, who was booted by UTA. (Both are highly critical of Israel.) On the other side of the divide, Selma Blair parted ways with her reps at CAA and Narrative PR after posting: “Deport all these terrorist supporting goons. Islam has destroyed Muslim countries and then they come here and destroyed minds.” (She later deleted the post and apologized, saying: “I mistakenly and inadvertently conflated Muslims with Radical Islamists and fundamentalists.”)

Margolis seems to have drawn the same red line that Spyglass did when it fired Barrera: use of the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s actions in the region. At the time, Spyglass released a statement that noted, “We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”

Still, the word “genocide” has been used by a growing group of people who work in the industry including Joaquin Phoenix, Joel Coen and Todd Haynes, who signed an open letter in support of a polarizing Oscar speech made by Jonathan Glazer after “The Zone of Interest” won best international feature film in March. Their letter stated: “We are proud Jews who denounce the weaponization of Jewish identity and the memory of the Holocaust to justify what many experts in international law, including leading Holocaust scholars, have identified as a ‘genocide in the making.’ We reject the false choice between Jewish safety and Palestinian freedom.” A different group comprised of actors, writers and producers that included Debra Messing and Amy Sherman-Palladino slammed Glazer’s speech in an open letter that noted: “We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.”

Margolis’ email referenced “Anti-Israel sentiments [that] are causing a lot of Anti-Jew Rhetoric in our own backyards” as the reason for her decision. She then suggested that if outsiders ask why her firm is being unresponsive with any celebrity, influencer or tastemaker using the word genocide, they can come up with “some language that you are comfortable with.”

Some were taken aback by Margolis’ email and began sending it to external sources. The email was shared widely over the past 24 hours. Margolis has been active on the Israel front within the Hollywood community. In November, she hosted a breakfast at her home for industry people and media to meet with Israeli hostage families.

In closing, Margolis wrote: “When this war is over, everything will be [sic] die down and im hoping it’s sooner than later.” In the meantime, she asked her staff to vet the feeds of talent.

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