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Is Oliver Stone Toast? Or Has he Avoided Disaster?

That is, indeed, the question of the day. Since making his overtly anti-Semitic comments, about which I blogged a day ago, Oliver Stone was obviously forced to make what turned out to be a halfhearted and clearly insincere apology. Stone released the following statement: “In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret.”

Of course, anyone who knows all the previous interviews Stone has given about his forthcoming documentary, The Secret History of America, knows immediately how his apology is meaningless. For one, he did not say anything to show that he regrets his comments about “Jewish domination of the media” and how the powerful Jewish lobby has regularly “f….. up United States foreign policy for years.”

What clearly lies behind his new set of words is obvious pressure from Showtime and CBS. After all, the CEO of Showtime, Matthew E. Blank, received the UJA-Federation of NY's Entertainment Media & Communications Division Award in 2003. This is something he obviously is proud of, since he has put it on Showtime’s Executive Bios page. Even more embarrassing is the immediate reaction to Stone’s words by representatives of the American Jewish community.

First, the Anti-Defamation League slammed Stone. Its director, Abraham Foxman, said that Stone “has once again shown his conspiratorial colors with his comments. ... His words conjure up some of the most stereotypical and conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish power and influence.” And David A. Harris of the American Jewish Committee said that Stone had invoked a “grotesque, toxic stereotype” and had “outed himself as an anti-Semite.” His remarks, he added, were no different from “one of the drunken, Jew-hating rants of his fellow Hollywood celebrity, Mel Gibson.”

Foxman was at first not satisfied with Stone’s apology. "Oliver Stone's apology stops short and is therefore insufficient,” he said. Of course, Foxman was correct. Then, the ante was upped. Most important, the wealthy media mogul Haim Saban, chair of the Saban Capital Group, remarked that his “apology is sooooo transparently fake.” He then contacted CBS chief Leslie Moonves, whose network owns Showtime, urging him to not air the program. Stone, Saban said, “has been consistent in his anti-American and anti-Semitic remarks,” and should join “Mel Gibson into the land of retirement.” Following his example, the powerful agent Ari Emanuel called CBS to second Saban’s request to cancel the documentary.