Jewish groups riled over Brandos attacks

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LOS ANGELES — Jewish organizations are angrily criticizing Marlon Brando for attacking Jews in the entertainment industry.

Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" show in Los Angeles Friday of last week, Brando said that Jews, who "run" and "own" the entertainment industry, "should have greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are suffering because they've [been] exploited."

"We have seen the nigger, we have seen the greaseball, we have seen the chink, the slit-eyed Jap," said Brando, "but we never saw the kike, because they knew perfectly well that's where you draw the wagons around."

During the hourlong program, King, who is Jewish, warned the actor that he was playing into the hands of anti-Semites.

Brando responded by saying that "I will be the first one who will praise the Jews, and say, `Thank God for the Jews.'"

During the rambling and occasionally incoherent interview, King tried to steer the conversation to other topics, but Brando kept returning to charges against Jews.

At one point, the actor extended a finger toward King in an obscene gesture.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Brando's remarks "outrageous and offensive," adding that they "raise the centuries-old canard of Jewish control and conspiracy."

Phil Baum, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said that by "wildly accusing Jews of permitting racist stereotypes to flourish in Hollywood, [Brando] is engaging in gross stereotyping himself."

The AJCongress called on Brando to "emulate silent movies, because his sound track is not worth hearing."

But Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that Brando "is not basically an anti-Semite."

Still, to say that "Jews own and run the film studios and television networks is simply not factual," Hier added.

Hier said on Tuesday that Brando had phoned to express remorse over his remarks and explained they were not meant to be anti-Semitic.

Hier said Brando would make a public statement on the matter during a visit to the Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance scheduled for Friday, April 12.

Meanwhile, the militant Jewish Defense League came out with the fiercest attack on Brando, promising to make the rest of his life "a living hell."

Irv Rubin, JDL's national chairman, said that his organization would picket Brando's Los Angeles home and screenings of his upcoming movie, "The Island of Doctor Moreau," and would demand that the actor's star be removed from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Rubin denied that the JDL had plastered a black swastika, discovered Monday morning, on Brando's star, saying "We don't deal in swastikas."

Reuters reported that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said Brando's star would remain in place.

Spokesmen for Brando and King did not respond to repeated requests for comments.

Among Brando's defenders was Jay Kanter, Brando's longtime agent, producer and friend.

"Marlon has spoken to me for hours about his fondness for the Jewish people, and he is a well-known supporter of Israel," Kanter told Daily Variety.

In an early stage appearance, Brando had a role in the 1946 salute to Israel, "A Flag Is Born."

Tom Tugend

JTA Los Angeles correspondent