Stranger Things’ star blames book store signing cancellation on ‘antisemitic intimidation’

Stranger Things’ actor questioned whether LA book store pulled out of event ‘because they don’t want to be seen as a business that would host me?”

Kevin E G Perry
Friday 08 March 2024 17:36 GMT
Brett Gelman attends the premiere of ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 in 2019
Brett Gelman attends the premiere of ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 in 2019 (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Stranger Things actor Brett Gelman says he believes the cancellation of his forthcoming book signing in Los Angeles is a result of the bookstore “giving into antisemitic intimidation”.

Book Soup, on the Sunset Strip, is the third stop on Gelman’s book tour to cancel his appearance after receiving messages protesting the event.

The store said the cancellation was “entirely a question of safety”, as it followed in the footsteps of San Francisco’s Book Passage and the Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois.

However, Gelman told the Los Angeles Times that he fears it has become too easy to silence voices simply by threatening to make a disturbance.

“If they’re really terrified, I feel for them,” he told the newspaper, “But if they are doing this because they fear for what their reputation as a store is going to be, or how they’re going to be seen by the side [of social justice] that I’ve always stood with that I feel betrayed by right now, shame on them. Shame on them for that. Shame on them for blocking the conversation.”

Gelman, who plays Murray Bauman in Stranger Things, is a vocal supporter of Israel.

He is currently promoting his debut short story collection, The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Stories, which he has described as “a criticism of my own Jewish neurosis and self-hatred and identity”. It will be published on 19 March.

Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman in ‘Stranger Things’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

Speaking to Los Angeles Magazine, Gelman explained that he had offered to provide his own security to allow the event to go ahead.

“These are the screams of bullies,” he said. “Maybe they’re worried that a gang is going to, you know, march outside and maybe throw a trash can through the window, but I had said that was not going to happen. I was going to provide enough security to make sure that wasn’t going to happen.”

He added: “I support Israel, but that does not mean that I celebrate the death of innocent Palestinians. It kills me that as a Jew, I’m conditioned to think that I need to apologize for being a Jew, for advocating for my people’s rights for my people’s humanity.

“It’s a power grab. We’re being dehumanized. We’re being scapegoated on all sides. We are the most gaslit people of all time.”

Gelman is currently planning to reschedule his canceled book signing events at local Jewish community centers or temples.

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