Sunday, May 26

After Outcry, Writers Guild Tries to Explain Silence on Hamas Attack

Facing mounting pressure from more than 300 Hollywood screenwriters questioning why it had not publicly condemned the Hamas attack on Israel this month, the Writers Guild of America West sent a letter to its members on Tuesday that sought to explain its silence while also calling the attack “an abomination.”

The letter, signed by the guild’s leadership and viewed by The New York Times, said the reason the union had not issued a statement after the attack on Oct. 7 was not “because we are paralyzed by factionalism or masking hateful views” but rather because “we are American labor leaders, aware of our limitations and humbled by the magnitude of this conflict.”

The guild’s letter acknowledged that it had publicly commented on other situations “which could be characterized as beyond our scope,” but that it had not made any statement following, for instance, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It can be an imprecise science for a labor union to pick and choose where it weighs in on both domestic and world affairs,” said the letter, which was signed by the president, Meredith Stiehm; the vice president, Michele Mulroney; and Betsy Thomas, the secretary-treasurer.

Still, they added, “We understand this has caused tremendous pain and for that we are truly sorry.”

(The west and east branches of the W.G.A. are affiliated unions with separate leadership that together represent more than 11,000 writers.)

On Oct. 15, a group of screenwriters sent an open letter to the guild asking why it had not publicly denounced the attack on Israel, noting the union had made public statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the #MeToo reckoning. They also noted that other major Hollywood unions had issued statements condemning the attack.