Writers Guild of America refrains from statement on Israel-Hamas war


(JTA) — Writers Guild of America West, a branch of the screenwriters union that is fresh off of a months-long strike, has come under fire from many of its members over its refusal to issue a statement about the Israel-Hamas war.

After complaints about the lack of reaction, WGA West President Meredith Stiehm wrote an email to members on Friday.

“Like the membership itself, the board’s viewpoints are varied, and we found consensus out of reach,” she wrote. “For these reasons, we have decided not to comment publicly.”

WGA East shared a statement with its members that also avoided a response to the conflict but condemned antisemitism and Islamophobia, which have both been on the rise around the world since Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7. The guild branch said that the fact that 40% of its members are journalists complicates how it can respond to world events.

“We in leadership agreed to move away from public statements that did not directly involve our Guild, our industries or the labor movement,” the note read. “Such statements hindered journalist members’ work and divided rather than united us.”

A woman poses by the iconic Hollywood sign on the day members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) approved a new three-year contract with major studios, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 9, 2023. (credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

The note acknowledged that “this will strike some of you as inadequate.”

“We also realize that our own personal sentiments about the atrocities in Israel committed by Hamas on October 7 and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza will not suffice,” it continued. “Representing a diversity of workers means our union is strong enough to hold many different views. However, we want to be clear: There is no place in this Guild — none at all — for antisemitism or Islamophobia.”


Before Stiehm’s email on Friday, a group of 75 WGA members held a Zoom meeting to discuss how to respond to the guild’s silence on the issue. The New York Times reported that some floated withholding dues or resigning from the guild altogether.

WGA has stood up for past movements

On October 15, a large group of guild members signed onto a letter criticizing the union for not standing up for Israel after having stood up during past movements such as Black Lives Matter.

“When it comes to taking a stand, the Writers Guild of America has always led by example,” the letter read. “When employers sought to exploit our work, the Guild bravely spoke up. When the BLM movement took flight, the Guild rightfully spoke up. When the #MeToo reckoning came and Hollywood needed to change, again the Guild spoke up. But when terrorists invaded Israel to murder, rape, and kidnap Jews … the Guild stayed silent. It remains the only major Hollywood union to do so.”

Dozens of celebrities — ranging from Adam Sandler to Katy Perry to Jordan Peele — signed on a letter on Monday calling for President Joe Biden to continue to push for the release of all hostages taken captive by Hamas.

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