Dear Ms. Portman,
I wanted to express admiration for your courageous and heartfelt words in speaking out against the anti-Semitic comments by Dior fashion designer John Galliano.
When people of Galliano’s stature as a celebrity engage in anti-Semitism, there are often those who will defend their behavior, or make excuses, blaming it on alcoholism or the pressures of a highflying career. This happened with Galliano, as it did with other celebrities who have expressed anti-Semitism or racism, like Mel Gibson.
I am a strong believer in the power of words. Anti-Semitic, bigoted and prejudiced remarks, when uttered by those in positions of authority, can reinforce those sentiments in others already infected with hate. But there are antidotes to the virus. One is education. When celebrities of equal or greater stature are willing to stand up and speak out against hatred, bigotry or prejudice, it has a tremendous impact in showing others that not everyone condones such conduct.
Your words may do more, in the final analysis, to counter these hateful sentiments than a million apologies from Galliano and his employers. Those who look up to you as a role model will take away the message that anti-Semitism is unacceptable. Thank you for your refreshing stand and a beautiful response to an ugly manifestation of anti-Semitism.
Abraham H. Foxman