Actor Brett Gelman says book signings nixed due to antisemitism, anti-Israel sentiment

Stores in San Francisco and Ilinois cancel events where ‘Stranger Things’ star was due to plug his forthcoming short story collection

Actor Brett Gelman in the crowd of a SAG-AFTRA union strike in Los Angeles, July 19, 2023. (Anton Bondarev /
Actor Brett Gelman in the crowd of a SAG-AFTRA union strike in Los Angeles, July 19, 2023. (Anton Bondarev /

US actor Brett Gelman has said that two stores canceled his planned book signings over what he described as antisemitic and anti-Zionist intimidation.

Gelman, who played the character of Murray Bauman in the TV show “Stranger Things,” told the New York Post in a Friday report that stores in San Francisco and Illinois pulled out from hosting events.

The Jewish actor, 47, vowed to push ahead with two other events in New York and West Hollywood and find replacement venues for the two canceled signings.

Gelman is on a four-city book tour for the upcoming release of his short story collection “The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Stories,” due for release on March 19.

Book Passage in San Francisco and The Book Stall in Winnetka both canceled scheduled signings in a move he described as “heartbreaking.”

Gelman, who has openly supported Israel online and in public, in particular amid the ongoing war with Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza, said he was informed of the cancellations by his representatives.

“The bookstores canceled because of protester intimidation,” Gelman, told the Post. “I didn’t get a lot of specifics. I definitely believe it’s because of my vocal support of Israel and because of the fact that I’m Jewish. I think that this is a completely antisemitic act.”

He said the book has “nothing to do with Israel” but does emphasize his Jewish identity. Stories are about characters dealing with morality, fame, religion, and death at a “uniquely strange stage of life” he said.

The Book Stall confirmed the cancellation to the NY Post but did not provide further information. The Book Passage did not respond to requests for comment, the report said.

Gelman said he now has fears for his safety but has not pulled out of two other appearances scheduled for New York on March 18 and West Hollywood on March 27.

“I won’t be surprised if they encounter the same type of intimidation, but I hope those two venues don’t feel it’s necessary to cancel the events,” he said

“I am proud of my book and I’m really excited for everybody to read it,” he said. “I can’t let these people sully my experience, but people need to know that this is happening to Jewish people all the time.”

Gelman is looking for other venues in San Francisco and Chicago to plug his book.

“If I have to get security, I’ll get security,” he said. “I believe in the solidarity of the Jewish people, that they have my back. That’s sort of been the silver lining in all of this. It’s really mobilized the Jewish community to stand up and band together in the face of this crazy moment when antisemitism has been normalized and so has the support of Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic jihad.”

Gelman was one of a string of celebrities who made solidarity visits to Israel following the devastating Hamas attack on October 7 that killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians. Terrorists also abducted 253 people of all ages who were taken as hostages to Gaza, where over half remain captive.

Israel responded with a military offensive which it said aimed to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza, and free the hostages.

Tamir Bar (L), Liat Harlev (R), and Brett Gelman (C), in their roles as two Berkeley students and their professor, on sketch comedy show “Eretz Nehederet,” December 27, 2023. (Screen capture: Eretz Nehederet, Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law.)

Gelman came to Israel in December and visited victims at a hospital in Ra’anana. He also appeared in a sketch in the Israeli satirical show “Eretz Nehederet.”

In his profile on social media platform X, Gelman mockingly describes himself as a “Zionist Pig.” In a January post, he wrote to his 200,000 followers: “If you do not at least partially blame Hamas for the deaths of its people you don’t care about Palestinians. You just hate Jews. If you do not call for the release of the hostages as you call for a ceasefire you just hate Jews. And if you hate Jews please unfollow me.”

He recently signed a letter with 200 other celebrities calling on the Motion Picture Academy to not perpetuate antisemitism.

Gelman’s attachment to Israel predates the October 7 attacks. He proposed to his girlfriend in Jerusalem in May last year.

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