HOLLYWOOD HILLS—Over a thousand protesters surrounded the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 10, to protest on Hollywood’s biggest night, to call out the industry’s “complicity in genocide against Palestinians,” and to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and justice for Palestinians. The demonstration was made up of two separate events, each promoted by numerous organizations, one which began at the Cinerama Dome at 6370 Sunset Boulevard, and the second at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue. 

In a Jewish Voices for Peace, Los Angeles (JVP LA) press release provided to Canyon News, it said, “As onlookers are distracted by the Academy Awards, Israeli Defense Forces have coordinated a planned invasion of Rafah, a small town in the southern Gaza Strip with a population that has ballooned to over 1.5 million people due to the displacement of refugees fleeing the ongoing, U.S.-backed genocide and forced famine.” 

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, JVP LA – along with Adalah Justice Project, SAG-AFTRA Members for Ceasefire, Writers Against the War on Gaza and Film Workers for Palestine – amassed a group of hundreds out front of the Cinerama Dome, consisting of Jews, film workers, artists and pro-Palestinian activists such as rapper Macklemore and Alana Hadid, sister to supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid. Their rally, “Eyes On Rafah,” consisted of a speaking program, followed by marches towards Dolby Theatre where the Oscars were taking place.

Members of Jewish Voices For Peace, Los Angeles.

Demonstrators held Palestinian flags, and signs that read, “No Oscars During A Genocide,” wore shirts that said, “Jews Say Ceasefire Now,” and Keffiyeh’s – a traditional Arab headdress – as a symbol for Palestinian solidarity. Chants of “While you’re watching, bombs are dropping” could be heard. “International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees” members held a banner that read, “IATSE Members For A Free Palestine.” 

“While the entertainment industry is not itself responsible for U.S. geopolitical strategy… it has played a vital role in creating the consensus that the U.S. and Israel share a special bond,” the press release continued. “Since Israel’s founding in 1948, films, novels, journalism, museums, and more have used narratives of redemption, suffering, and victimization to justify the use of military force to displace the native population of Palestine.”

“As artists and storytellers, we have an obligation and responsibility in this moment to use our voices. And for everyone in this industry who is silent right now, I urge you to remember what inspired you to become an artist and a storyteller” actress, activist and SAG-AFTRA member Poppy Liu said at the rally.  

Earlier on Sunday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue, USCPN (US Palestinian Community Network), CentroCSO (Community Service Organization), National Alliance Against Racists and Political Repression, Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles, the Free Democratic Palestine Movement and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, mobilized another large group of protestors sharing the same issue. This group ended up blocking traffic into the Academy Awards and as a result, some celebrities arrived late to the show.

“We’re late! The Palestinian protests shut down the Oscars tonight! Humanity Wins!”, Oscar-nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo, told reporters after arriving on the red carpet. 

Celebrities, including Ruffalo, singer Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, actors Riz Ahmed, Ramy Youssef and Mahershala Ali, and director Ava DuVernay, all showed their support for Palestine by wearing “Artists4Ceasefire” pins. Youssef spoke candidly with reporters about what the pin means and called for an immediate ceasefire. And while accepting the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film for his film “The Zone of Interest,” director Jonathan Glazer said, “Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.”

Israel’s war on Gaza continues after 150 days. As of March 11, 2024, Gaza Health Ministry reports that the Palestinian death toll has reached 31,000, including at least 95 journalists and over 136 UNWRA workers, with tens of thousands of Palestinians wounded. Israel reports 1,200 Israelis, including 589 soldiers and 61 police officers, have died. 134 hostages remain in Hamas captivity.