Two weeks after Susan Sarandon spoke at a rally in support of Palestine, the actress is eating her words. The Thelma and Louise star, who also has a long career as an activist, was dropped by her talent agency last month after she made remarks viewed by many as antisemitic from a platform at the demonstration. But in an Instagram post published Friday night, Sarandon apologized for her public statements, and said they were intended to “show solidarity in the struggle against bigotry of all kinds.”
The matter began on November 17, when Sarandon took the dais (technically, the back of a truck) to address the crowd at a pro-Palestinian rally in New York City’s Union Square. In a three-minute-long speech (per The New York Post), Sarandon said “There are a lot of people afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence.”
“There’s a terrible thing that’s happened where antisemitism has been confused with speaking up against Israel,” The New York Times quoted Sarandon as saying. “I am against antisemitism. I am against Islamophobia.”
As Sarandon predicted, however, her words were indeed perceived as being antisemitic by folks like Aviva Klompas, a former speechwriter for Israel’s delegation to the United Nations. “When Susan Sarandon said that Jews ‘are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country,’ she was saying that American Jews have it coming – that we don’t deserve to live free from harassment and assault,” Klompas wrote on X (formerly Twitter) a few days after the speech had been widely shared.
The same day Klompas published that tweet, Sarandon was dropped by United Talent Agency (UTA), a representative of the agency confirmed. Sarandon, characterized by the NYT as “a regular figure at protests throughout the city” against the Israel-Hamas war, did not respond to the outcry over her remarks, and her previously active social media presence fell silent. (Vanity Fair reached out to Sarandon and UTA for comment; neither have responded as of publication time.)
That silence ended Friday when, via Instagram, Sarandon posted an explanation of her remarks, and apologized to those hurt by her statements. “Recently, I attended a rally alongside a diverse group of activists seeking to highlight the urgent humanitarian crisis in Gaza and call for a ceasefire,” Sarandon wrote of last month’s event. “I had not planned to speak but was invited to take the stage and say a few words.”
“Intending to communicate my concern for an increase in hate crimes, I said that Jewish Americans, as the targets of rising antisemitic hate, ‘are getting a taste of what it is like to be Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence.’ This phrasing was a terrible mistake, as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution, when the opposite is true. As we all know, from centuries of oppression and genocide in Europe, to the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, PA, Jews have long been familiar with discrimination and religious violence which continues to this day. I deeply regret diminishing this reality and hurting people with this comment.”
“I will continue my commitment to peace, truth, justice, and compassion for all people,” Sarandon wrote in conclusion. “I hope that we can meet with love and willingness to engage in dialogue, especially with those with whom we disagree.”