In the face of criticism, the Writers Guild of America West is explaining why it has so far not issued a statement on Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel — and decrying the “atrocities committed by Hamas.”
“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,” top guild officers, including president Meredith Stiehm, vice president Michele Mulroney and secretary-treasurer Betsy Thomas, wrote WGA West members in an email on Tuesday. “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.”
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The officers explained that in the early days following the attacks, leaders were “horrified” but felt it was “outside the purview of a U.S. labor union representing writers to comment on it.” While the guild had previously commented on issues that “fell mainly under the umbrella of defending social justice in the U.S. or freedom of expression,” the leaders continued that the guild has not always commented on worldwide tragedies, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and terrorist attacks in Somalia and Pakistan.
“It can be an imprecise science for a labor union to pick and choose where it weighs in on both domestic and world affairs,” the union leaders stated.
Nevertheless, the leaders essentially embedded a statement on the violence within their explanation of why they didn’t initially issue one. “All of us in Guild leadership are horrified by the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th,” they wrote. “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.”
The statement comes after the WGA West faced criticism from members who wanted the union to issue a statement on the loss of life as a result of the Oct. 7 attacks. Showrunners including Hank Steinberg (Without a Trace), Howard Gordon (Homeland), Joel Fields (The Americans) and Marc Guggenheim (Legends of Tomorrow) attended a virtual meeting to discuss the issue on Oct. 20, while the Jewish global human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center published a strongly worded statement on the union’s silence. Conversely, a separate group circulated a Google doc advocating for entertainment union members, including those belonging to the WGA, to “reject pressure campaigns to support the assault in Gaza.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Wyatt Earp and The Hurricane writer Dan Gordon announced he was resigning from the WGA West over what was then a lack of statement from the union on the situation. When reached after union leaders published their explanation later in the day, Gordon said that the message hadn’t changed his mind. “It doesn’t change my decision,” he said in a statement to THR. “It’s pusillanimous, and there’s nothing to write home about in it.”
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