So what better way to debunk that myth than to have a Jew argue against it. This is as clear of an article as anyone can ask on why this myth about Walt is totally false. The author makes 3 major points:
First, Disney hired Jews, lots of Jews. Disney was not himself Jewish, of course, but the success of his business owed a great deal to a Jew. The bedrock of Disney was Walt’s merchandising partner, the Jewish Kay Kamen, the man who helped make Mickey Mouse into a cult and who once remarked that Disney had more Jews in it than the Book of Leviticus. This was not an accident, occurring against Walt’s wishes. When Harry Tytle joined the studio as a production manager and told Walt that he was half-Jewish, Disney replied: “It would be better if you were all Jewish.”
Second, the supposed antisemite was a frequent contributor to Jewish charities — the Yeshiva College and the Jewish Home for the Aged among them. And in 1955, he was made Man of the Year by the Beverly Hills Lodge of B’nai B’rith.
Third, and most important, is what there isn’t. There just isn’t any serious evidence of antisemitism. And this is not a charge that can be waved about without proof. Jews can enjoy Walt Disney. He was an inspiration.
Will this lay to rest this myth? Probably not. Not everyone in the world read this article, or my blog! :) But hey, if just one person finally realizes that this myth is false, that's enough for me.
Unfortunately, as good as this article is, there are a couple of issues with it, and I'm probably nitpicking here, so my apologies far in advance.
Out of the imagination of this boy from Kansas came a wholesome vision of America, a passionate commitment to quality and a constant flow of brilliant ideas to keep us entertained. I love Walt Disney.
Er... Kansas? I know we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I don't recall Walt having any significant residence in Kansas. He was born in Chicago, moved to Marceline, Missouri, and then later on to Kansas City, Missouri. So that "Kansas City" may have been confused with "Kansas". This might be a good time to point out to the official biography of Walt Disney at the Disney website that runs the Walt Disney Family museum webpage.
There is nothing stronger than that. Neal Gabler has now written a biography of Walt Disney (another fabulous book, incidentally) and searched through the record with great care. Gabler is not a man who pulls punches; he is known as a controversial media commentator and his biography is balanced and fair. He portrays Disney as a difficult man, given to rows with his associates. But he acquits Disney of the charge of antisemitism.
If he is referring to Gabler's "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination", then it should be pointed out that Walt's only surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller, has come out against this book. It has been reported that she faxed the Walt Disney Company on its wide support and endorsement of this book. Supposedly, part of the fax read something like:
... a monstrous piece of libelous junk. My parents were not the people he creates in this book, and I cannot understand why all of you who aided and abetted Gabler in writing this book, and who praise it and promote it, can do so without suffering serious qualms.
Of course, we don't know if Gabler's dismantling of the argument that Walt was an antisemite is included in Diane Disney Miller's displeasure of the book. So Gabler's point here may still be valid. Still, it is worth nothing that the person who should know Walt rather well isn't thrilled at all with this book.
Still, the bottom line: Walt is NOT an antisemite. So enough already.