Updated: Filmmaker responds to criticism of his statements over the weekend that Jews dominate the media, and that Hitler did more damage to Russia than to the Jews
Updated 3:30 p.m. Monday:
"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," Stone said in a statement late Monday.
"Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry. The fact that the Holocaust is still a very important, vivid and current matter today is, in fact, a great credit to the very hard work of a broad coalition of people committed to the remembrance of this atrocity — and it was an atrocity."
Oliver Stone is at it again.
During a Television Critic Association panel on his 10-hour television Showtime documentary “A Secret History of America” in January, Stone got started with this little ditty: “Hitler was an easy scapegoat.”
This weekend he amped it up a notch. The controversial director complained to the London’s Sunday Times of "Jewish domination of the media” and claimed that Hitler did more damage to Russia than he did to the Jews.
Stone, who is half-Jewish, told the Times: “There's a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f—ed up United States foreign policy for years.”
While "Hitler was a Frankenstein [monster],” Stone said, “there was also a Dr. Frankenstein: German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support."
Stone continued: "Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 million [killed]."
Israel minister of public affairs Yuli Edelstein quickly slammed the director.
"Beyond the ignorance he proves with his comments, his demonization of the Jewish people could be a sequel to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion," Edelstein told the Jerusalem Post. "When a man of Stone's stature says such things, it could lead to a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, and it may even cause real harm to Jewish communities and individuals."
The American Jewish Committee blasted the director, too.
"By invoking this grotesque, toxic stereotype, Oliver Stone has outed himself as an anti-Semite," said AJC executive director David Harris said in a statement. "For all of Stone's progressive pretensions, his remark is no different from one of the drunken, Jew-hating rants of his fellow Hollywood celebrity, Mel Gibson."
"We are deeply offended," Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivor, said in another statement. "These are words of hate and a disgraceful evocation of anti-Semitism. Shame on Oliver Stone."
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, also attacked Stone. "Oliver Stone has once again shown his conspiratorial colors with his comments about ‘Jewish domination of the media’ and control over U.S. foreign policy," Foxman said in a statement. "His words conjure up some of the most stereotypical and conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish power and influence.
Foxman added: "This is the most absurd kind of analysis and shows the extent to which Oliver Stone is willing to propound his anti-Semitic and conspiratorial views."
If that weren't enough, Stone also defended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he met recently.
"Iran isn't necessarily the good guy," he said in the Times interview. "But we don't know the full story." Stone said U.S. policy toward Iran was "horrible." (In 2007, Ahmadinejad rejected a proposal by the Oscar-winning director to make a film about him, calling Stone part of the "Great Satan": America.)
Stone also praised Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez — subject of his "South of the Border" documentary — as "a brave, blunt, earthy [man]."
A representative for Stone did not immediately return a request for comment from TheWrap.
In the Times article, Stone said "Secret History" would put Hitler and Stalin "in context."
At the TCAs last January, he said the documentary would offer an alternative crash course to the "grossly inadequate history" taught by American schools and proffered by mass media.
In explaining the rise of Hitler, for example, textbooks and History Channel documentaries often don’t note that some American corporations funded the Nazis, Stone said.
“There’s a ethnocentricity to history in this country — an America-first aspect to it. History, by its very nature, tends to be nationalistic,” he said. “What I’m trying to do as an internationalist is to get beyond the American point of view and view history as an international effort.”
He added: “Obviously, Rush Limbaugh isn’t going to like this.”
He also told U.K. journalists last January: "We can't judge people as only 'bad' or 'good'. [Hitler] is the product of a series of actions. It's cause and effect. People in America don't know the connection between WWI and WWII."
Stone is, of course, no stranger to controversy. At this point, his films – “J.F.K.,” “World Trade Center,” “W.,” “Natural Born Killers” et al – come prepackaged with made-for-cable news controversy. And his comments are, too, whether they are promoting a movie or not.
Last week, Stone told the British press he thinks Gibson – despite the steady leak of his vitriolic, racist rants — will work in Hollywood again.
"Everyone is supposed to have an opinion, but most directors don't work that way," Stone told The Sun when asked if directors will ever want to work with Gibson again. "Projects are developed slowly, and over the course of weeks, months, there will be projects, and I am sure many of them will want to have Mel Gibson in them."