Creative Community For Peace honors Eugene Levy and other entertainment industry leaders amid talk of rising anti-Semitism – eJewish Philanthropy

Waiters handed out hors d’oeuvres and Moscow mules to 500 people strolling through a Beverly Hills backyard last night as a DJ churned out tunes including one of the new singles by Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”. Crowds had gathered to celebrate Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a non-profit organization that mobilizes prominent members of the entertainment community to oppose the boycott of Israel and promote the arts as a bridge to peace. peace.

The gala honored several industry leaders with the CCFP Ambassadors of Peace Award: actor and “Schitt’s Creek” co-creator Eugene Levy; Darren Star, award-winning writer, creator and executive producer of shows such as “Sex & the City” and “Emily in Paris”; Brandon Goodman and Danny Rukasin, co-founders of talent agency Best Friends Music; songwriter and producer Autumn Rowe; and David Zedeck, co-director of global music at the United Talent Agency.

The event was hosted by The Milky Way, the dairy kosher restaurant in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles owned by Steven Spielberg’s late mother, and guests chatted in Hebrew and English about their new plans as well as the rise of anti-Semitism – including Kanye West’s recent series of comments.

“As a writer, I strive to tell stories that affirm our individuality, expose bias, and illuminate our shared humanity,” Star said in a speech. “And as a Jew in this country right now, in this scary time, I feel there is no more important time to affirm and be proud of my own Jewish identity.”

After joking about how his name was misspelled on the monitor, Levy also addressed hate in his speech, recalling how he dealt with anti-Semitism in high school.

“If you can actually get people to feel shame for their own despicable thoughts and actions, or for following the despicable thoughts and actions of others, then that can be a giant first step in turning heads, and eventually to eradicate hate and bigotry,” he said. “So one of the things we can do in the entertainment industry is try to show these people what the other side can be like. through the stories we tell, what a world without bigotry can look like.”

The CCFP organizes events, arranges trips to Israel for entertainment industry executives, builds coalitions like the Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance (BJEA), and serves as a resource for managers and agents whose clients may be criticized for booked concerts or other events in Israel.

The group’s trips to Israel have been suspended during the pandemic and are expected to resume in the spring. Because the CCFP is an apolitical organization, its travels strive to provide a balanced view of the discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by encouraging artists to see Israel for themselves. The organization’s goal when traveling is to “maximize opportunities” to do so, said CCFP director Ari Ingel. eJewishPhilanthropy. One trip was organized to attend the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in 2019, while another brought songwriters from the United States to meet for a “writing camp” with their Israeli peers.

The organization also spearheaded a letter this month against the boycott of the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Film Festival, signed by more than 200 celebrities, including Mila Kunis, Mayim Bialik and Neil Patrick Harris.

The BJEA, whose board is half black and half Jewish, has seen a flurry of visibility recently, in light of anti-Semitic comments from Kanye West and a namedrop during the weekend update from “Saturday Night Live”. Invoking the legacy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, the signatories “commit to work to bring our two communities together in solidarity, to support each other in our struggles, and to better understand each other’s plight and stories. . The Jewish community must continue to speak out against racial injustice and work for change, while the black community must continue to speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism.

The Ambassador of Peace event generates about half of CCFP’s annual budget, which hovers between $800,000 and $1 million, co-founder David Renzer, former CEO and president of Universal Music Publishing, told eJP. CCFP supporters include Shari Redstone, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and entertainment mogul Haim Saban, who sponsored Zedeck’s award on Wednesday night.

“Our red line is that we don’t believe boycotts are the solution,” Renzer told eJP ahead of the event. “We talk about it openly. Cultural boycotts are not the solution. In fact, it’s the opposite, isn’t it? Let’s use the power of culture and the arts to do something positive and bring people together.

Variety was a media sponsor of the event, and its executive music editor, Shirley Halperin, who is Israeli, was on hand to support the organization and to “encourage our own projects spanning Israel and the intersection of Judaism and entertainment,” said she told eJP at an event. Variety’s upcoming April 2023 issue will be a special, featuring Israeli entertainment — “cover to cover,” Halperin said.

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