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Melissa Barrera, Susan Sarandon, and Others in Hollywood Lose Jobs, Representation Over Israel-Hamas War Comments

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The Israel-Hamas war has triggered a growing divide within Hollywood, an institution that’s long had a reputation of being dominated by liberals who share similar political beliefs. Initially, in the wake of the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, many Jewish members of the industry said they felt disillusioned about their peers’ silence. But in recent weeks, those who have been most outspoken in support of Palestinians and against Israel’s military actions in Gaza have begun to be met with professional blowback.

After CAA agent Maha Dakhil sparked controversy with a series of posts on Instagram, including one that said: “What’s more heartbreaking than witnessing genocide? Witnessing the denial that genocide is happening,” she was demoted by the talent agency, before apologizing and telling Variety that she had “made a mistake.” Variety also reported that some of her colleagues wanted her fired, a consequence that others in the industry are starting to face.

On Tuesday, Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon was dropped by her talent agency over comments she made at a pro-Palestinian rally last week, and actress Melissa Barrera was fired from the cast of the upcoming thriller Scream VII, in which she was slated to reprise her leading role in the franchise.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Barrera, 33, has used her social media platform frequently to showcase her support for the Palestinian cause and to share information about the situation in Gaza, including resharing Instagram posts and articles describing Israeli forces’ attacks as “genocide and ethnic cleansing” and referring to Israel as a “colonized land.”

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She wrote on Instagram stories she had been trying to look for online information about the war from Palestinians’ perspectives “because Western media only shows the other side.” 

“Why they do that, I will let you deduce for yourself,” she wrote. She also reshared a post from Jewish Currents that included a reference to “the distortion of the Holocaust to boost the Israeli arms industry.”

Spyglass Media Group, the production company behind Scream VII, said in a statement Tuesday: “Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear: 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.”

Barrera had previously spoken out against antisemitism. “It is important for me to clarify that when I say Free Palestine,” she posted on Instagram on Oct. 27, “I do not in any way mean: Kill all Jews.” She added that she wanted freedom and safety for Palestines and Jews around the world.

Christopher Landon, who is set to direct the Scream VII, wrote in a now-deleted post on X: “Everything sucks. Stop yelling. This was not my decision to make.”

Barrera, who has not yet officially commented on her dismissal from the film but has continued to share information on Gaza on her social media platform, reposted on her Instagram stories earlier this week a photo that reads: “At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include, than be included for who I exclude.”

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