Wiesenthal Center isn’t withdrawing prize given to Harvey Weinstein

Ben Sales

(JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it hasn’t considered withdrawing an award given to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was fired by the production company he founded following a string of sexual harassment allegations.

Weinstein received the 2015 Humanitarian Award from the group, which promotes tolerance, and was honored at its annual gala dinner. Weinstein received the award due in part to his contributions to the group, which have totaled nearly $100,000. That year’s dinner brought in $1.75 million.

“We honored Harvey Weinstein because he and his company, like many other leaders in the entertainment world, have been longtime supporters of the Wiesenthal Center and its work,” Simon Wiesenthal  Center spokeswoman Marcial Lavina wrote in an email to JTA.

Asked whether the group would withdraw the award, Lavina wrote, “That hasn’t been up for discussion.”

In his speech accepting the award, Weinstein said of anti-Semites that Jews “better stand up and kick these guys in the ass.”

An expose in The New York Times last week detailed decades of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein from female actors and employees, and he was fired on Sunday. Weinstein and his brother, Bob, founded the studios Miramax and the Weinstein Company, and produced several award-winning films.

Weinstein was a high-profile donor to Democratic politicians, and several have pledged to give his contributions to charity. They include Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, who is the minority leader; Al Franken of Minnesota; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

In 2015, along with the Simon Wiesenthal award, Weinstein received the Truth to Power Award from the Survivor Mitzvah Project, which aids elderly Holocaust survivors. The group did not respond to JTA calls for comment.

Weinstein had Jewish-themed movie projects in the works. He had announced plans to direct a film adaptation of “Mila 18,” the Leon Uris novel about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and just days ago his company acquired the rights to “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz,” about a U.S. prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

The company said net profits from the documentary would be donated to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C.