Los Angeles, CA, September 12, 2023 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today announced the creation of a new Media & Entertainment Institute that will engage directly with industry leaders to improve societal perceptions of Jewish people and understanding of antisemitism.
“It’s not uncommon to see Jews in movies and television, but it is most common to see Jews boxed into stereotypes and tropes that create a narrow – and often negative – impression of the Jewish people,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “We know that many Americans only learn about Jews and Judaism through the media, and many say they have encountered antisemitic comments or tropes from movies, TV and pop culture. At a time of rising antisemitism, we must take a hard look at how Jews are portrayed on screen and in culture more broadly.”
The Institute will be formally announced this evening at an ADL dinner with industry leaders and celebrities at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.
Housed within ADL and based in Los Angeles, the new ADL Media & Entertainment Institute will engage directly with industry leaders and partner organizations to advocate for content that illustrates the full diversity of Jewish life and the nuanced characters that Jews embody, to offer a well-rounded portrayal of Jewish culture, religion and history. ADL will also directly advocate for content that educates on the impact of antisemitism and Jewish stereotypes.
The Institute will begin with a focus on five areas:
- Publishing research, including a report evaluating negative and positive Jewish representation in film, TV and entertainment.
- Establishing guidelines and best practices that can be adopted by producers, writers and agencies when developing Jewish characters and storylines to improve positive and accurate portrayals of Jews and the Jewish community.
- Providing education that increases awareness of antisemitism and educates on diverse Jewish representation and storytelling to industry producers, directors, writers, and staff.
- Granting recognition and accountability, both supporting positive portrayals, and also holding individuals and studios accountable for hateful or biased content.
- Developing partnerships with other advocacy organizations working with the media to ensure positive portrayals of all marginalized groups in film and TV.
One of ADL’s first partners in this work will be Common Sense Media, a leader in providing entertainment recommendations for families, students and teachers. In the coming weeks ADL and the Common Sense team will be working on compiling a list of recommended movies and TV shows that showcase Jewish people, culture and history.
“The entertainment industry was once known as a safe harbor for Jews. That is no longer true. There’s been an alarming rise in antisemitism within our professional ranks, industry organizations and in our art forms,” said Modi Wiczyk, Co-Founder & CEO of MRC, and a member of ADL’s Entertainment Leadership Council. “There’s never been a more pressing need for ADL’s Media & Entertainment Institute to step into this void and to engage directly with industry leaders on these issues. I stand ready to support them in any way I can.”
ADL has engaged with Hollywood and the entertainment industry since its founding in 1913, addressing stereotypes, negative portrayals, and antisemitism in film and on stage. Over the years, ADL’s national and regional leadership has formed deep relationships with industry leaders. Most recently, ADL launched the ADL Entertainment Leadership Council and formed a partnership with United Talent Agency to further cement those ties.
ADL surveys have shown that nearly one-third of Americans claim that they know no Jews and that people hear anti-Jewish comments from TV/movies/pop culture more than from most other sources. Studies have also demonstrated that viewers who consume content that includes Jewish stereotypes are more likely to harbor antisemitic views.
The new Institute supports the White House’s U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, released in May 2023, which explicitly calls on the entertainment industry to play a larger role in combating antisemitism and promoting diverse depictions of Jewish people in media.