We continue our examination of the often repeated and blindly believed accusations about the character and life of Walt Disney. As many of these same old stories and arguments have been often repeated over time, most have no idea of the history and the reality that is a part of the record of Walt’s life and times.
To this point we have looked at the case against Walt Disney and provided an overview of some of these often repeated stories. Our summation was that they are simply not true. In our second installment we examined the evidence that disproves the allegation that Walt Disney was a sexist. In this installment we examine whether there is any real evidence to suggest that Walt Disney was an anti-Semite.
In 1944, Walt joined a group known as the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. Other notable members of this group included Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers, John Wayne, and actor destined to be President Ronald Reagan. The groups stated purpose and the claim was that it was battling against communist and fascist influences in the Hollywood community. A quick look at the pages of a calendar can reveal why this was an important issue in that era. In the years that have followed, it has been claimed that the organization held some anti-Semitic views. Whether or not they did or there were members who as individuals within the organization that did has been the subject of much debate.
But it is important to make this notation – this is the beginning and end of the allegations against Walt Disney. The critics will say – he was a member of an organization that reportedly expressed some anti-Semitic views. However, if this is the criteria, the same standard is not used against Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan or John Wayne. You get the idea, the criteria seems to be aimed selectively and exclusively at Walt and his affiliation with this organization.
The truth is and history reveals that Walt worked with, had relationships in both the personal and professional world with many Jewish people, and none of them made these allegations against Walt. The people who dealt with him and knew him best simply give testimony to the fact that the allegations are not true.
In an era where being Jewish in Hollywood would sometimes cause one to face strong discrimination, Walt promoted Jewish workers to leadership positions of authority. Disney Historian, Jim Korkis quotes Kay Kamen, marketing guru who helped Disney expand their merchandising line once said with humor, “There are more Jews working at the Disney Studio than in any of the books of the Bible.” In Walt’s inner circle and trusted friends were included Disney legends, Marty Sklar, Richard and Robert Sherman.
“It would be unfair to label him an anti-Semite himself,” wrote Neal Gabler in 2009. Gabler created the extensive biography on Walt entitled Walt Disney. “There is no evidence whatsoever in the extensive Disney Archives of any anti-Semitic remarks or actions by Walt.” If he held those beliefs his actions certainly did not reflect them. Walt Disney gave to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of New York, Yeshiva College, and the Jewish Home for the Aged. In 1955, the Beverly Hills Chapter of B’nai B’rith named Walt Disney their man of the year. B’nai B’rith International is reported to be the oldest Jewish service organization in the world. B’nai B’rith states that it is committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and combating anti-Semitism and bigotry. Walt’s award is not an honor a Jewish organization would give a man if he were known to have a hatred or bias toward Jewish individuals.
It is also notable that on the opening day of Disneyland, while there were representatives of a variety of Christian faiths, Walt also included Rabbi Edgar Magnin in the opening ceremony. Once again as you peel away the layers of myth-information you discover that although the charges are often repeated they just don’t hold up in light of the evidence of Walt Disney’s life and career. Walt Disney was not an anti-Semite, no matter how often the lie is told that he was, it simply does not hold up against the evidence to the contrary.
Be sure to read the next installment – Walt Disney on Trial (Part Four) – Was Walt Disney Racist?
To read the first installment in this series click the link below
To read the second installment in this series click the link below
Walt Disney on Trial is a series that is being compiled by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, and Storming the Kingdom. The latest installment in that series is called, Terror in the Kingdom and will be released soon. He is also the author of the new book, The Disney Driven Life. This is a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered.
Some of the research for this series comes from
It’s Kind of a Funny Story – by Rolly Crump (Bamboo Forest Publishing. 2012)
Walt Disney-The Triumph of the American Imagination – by Neal Gabler (Vintage 2006)
Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City – by Sam Gennaway (Theme Park Press 2014)
Walt’s People – 15 Volumes – by Didier Ghez (Theme Park Press 2005-2015)
The Vault of Walt, Vol. 1-3 – by Jim Korkis (Theme Park Press 2012-2014)
Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow – by Christian Moran (Theme Park Press 2015)
Walt Disney An American Original – by Bob Thomas (Disney Editions 1976)