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Gore Vidal: Polanski Is a Persecuted Jew

Novelist-provocateur thinks religion, not rape, to blame for director’s woes

by
Liel Leibovitz
October 29, 2009
Polanski at a funeral in Paris in January.(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Polanski at a funeral in Paris in January.(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

So why is Roman Polanski in a Swiss prison cell? To hear author, intellectual, and seasoned provocateur Gore Vidal tell it, the famed director’s troubles have little to do with having drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl all those years ago. Polanski, Vidal tells The Atlantic in an interview published online yesterday, is being hounded because he’s Jewish. He cites “[t]he idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko—that’s what people were calling him,” Vidal said, adding decisively that “anti-Semitism got poor Polanski.” In his defense, Vidal, who knew Polanski in the 1970s, seemed reluctant to address the whole matter. “I really don’t give a fuck,” he replied when first asked about his former friend’s woes. “Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?” You, sir, are what we Jews call a real mensch.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.

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