After weeks of outrage from members about its silence over the terror attack against Israel, the Writers Guild is finally speaking out.
“All of us in Guild leadership are horrified by the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th,” said WGA West boss Meredith Stiehm, VP Michele Mulroney and Treasurer Betsy Thomas in an email sent to members Tuesday morning.
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Read the full WGA West letter below.
The surprise attacks left over 1,400 dead and hundreds taken hostage, with only four released so far in recent days. In response, with strong U.S. backing, Israel has hit Gaza repeatedly with heavy airstrike bombardments that have left thousands killed. Additionally, as the IDF amass on the border for an expected ground invasion, the government in Jerusalem has told Palestinians to evacuate Gaza City, creating a deeper humanitarian crisis.
“The murder of so many innocent people in Israel is an abomination, the WGA leaders noted Tuesday in language top showrunners and others felt would never come from their guild despite statements of support from the DGA, SAG-AFTRA and others. “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. “
Even as other guilds spoke out over the attacks, corporations like Disney, Comcast and Skydance have donated millions in humanitarian relief, and top talent, execs like Shari Redstone, Dana Walden, Jeffery Katzenberg and others have made public their support of Israel. But the WGA West and the WGA East previously insisted they would not officially comment on the tragedy.
In a letter exclusively revealed by Deadline on Saturday, Steihm told showrunners who had voiced their anger over the lack of support: “Like the membership itself, the Board’s viewpoints are varied, and we found consensus out of reach. For these reasons, we have decided not to comment publicly.”
The ensuing backlash, including the resignation this morning of longtime guild member and The Hurricane screenwriter Dan Gordon, obviously changed that perspective — whether it is enough at this point remains to been seen.
However, in online chats and directly, a number of top scribes have said they wanted both a statement of support and an apology, which they appear to have achieved with today’s letter.
The WGA East has still not altered its stance of no statement. Acknowledging this “will strike some of you as inadequate,” WGAE president Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and others in the leadership said yesterday that officially the guild would not weigh in on the matter, both as a point of policy and to prevent division among its membership which the guild says is 40% comprised of journalists.
Here’s the full WGA West letter:
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
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