Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld’s new article: An Overview: Documentaries on Antisemitism first appeared in Israel National News and is republished here with the author’s consent.
An Overview: Documentaries on Antisemitism
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
In the current century a huge outburst of antisemitism, part of which is directed against Israel, has developed. A number of documentaries have detailed many aspects of this antisemitism. They have contributed to a better understanding of who the perpetrators are, their motives and how they operate. This short overview presents the main ones.
One early producer was the American filmmaker, Gloria Greenfield. In 2008 her company, Doc Emet Productions, released: “A Case for Israel – Democracy’s Outpost.” This film was to a large extent based on Alan Dershowitz’s bestselling book, A Case for Israel, which was published in 2003.
The documentary was broadcast by a number of stations in Europe, Israel and elsewhere. It was translated into seven languages from the original English version. Greenfield then started working on a second movie, “Unmasked Judeophobia,” which was released in 2011. This movie was also translated into a variety of languages.1
The Australian filmmaker, Monique Schwarz, made “Beyond Paranoia.” She interviewed experts who could describe and analyze the various aspects of the overlay of anti-Israelism and antisemitism. The film aimed to illustrate how the many classic anti-Jewish hate motifs have mutated and are nowadays used against Israel. Schwartz and her co-producer Ben-Zion Tidhar felt that the movie had to be visually shocking. It included harsh Holocaust pictures. It premiered in February 2016 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
Schwarz said that from the interviews she conducted for the documentary she learned about: “The common elements in Christian, Muslim and Nazi antisemitism. Nor did I realize the degree to which important elements of Nazism are adherent to the ideology of many Arab countries.”2
The Swedish filmmakers Bo Persson and Joanna Helander produced a documentary titled “Watching the Moon at Night.” It explains how terror and antisemitism are linked. The movie was financed by the Swedish TV Corporation which then refused to broadcast it. To some extent it also became a memorial for two deceased scholars, French philosopher André Glucksmann and leading academic antisemitism expert Robert Wistrich, who are interviewed in it.3
In a short documentary titled “Whitewash, Antisemitism in the Labour Party” David Hirsh, a British sociologist and longtime activist against antisemitism, exposes the expressions of hatred of Jews and Israel in the Labour party. It opens with clips of the current party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, praising the terror organizations Hezbollah and Hamas.
Corbyn says: “So tomorrow evening it will be my pleasure and my honor to host an event in parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I also invited friends from Hamas to speak as well. The idea that an organization that is dedicated toward the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region, should be labelled as a terrorist organization by the British Government is really a big, big historical mistake”4
In 2016, the Labour party conducted an inquiry into antisemitism within its own ranks. The investigator, Shami Chakrabarti, produced a document which showed a lack of professionalism and understanding of the issue she was tasked with investigating. Shortly thereafter she became a member of the House of Lords at the recommendation of Corbyn. In “Whitewash,” a clip is shown where she is asked whether she knew during the inquiry that she would be proposed for a peerage. Instead of a resounding “no”, she tried in various ways to avoid answering.5
At the initiative of Charles Jacobs – initially head of the David Project — the filmmaker, Avi Goldwasser, made three documentaries on hate of Israel and antisemitism in the academic world: “Columbia Unbecoming,”6 “North Eastern Unbecoming”7 and “Hate Spaces.”8
Documentaries in languages other than English draw far less attention, as English by now is so dominant. In 2016, the Dutch Jewish broadcasting organization (Joodse Omroep) released a 3-part TV program on antisemitism in the Netherlands, the UK and France. It was titled “The Canary in the Coalmine.” One scene shows young ISIS adherents marching in summer 2014 with the flags of this terrorist organization in a Muslim neighborhood in The Hague. They shouted “Death to the Jews.”9
In 2013, a German movie was broadcast titled “Antisemitism Today-How Hostile to the Jews is Germany”. It clearly showed, even then at a time when the massive refugee immigration from Syria and Iraq had not yet begun, that antisemitism in Germany did not only come from the extreme right but also from Muslims and leftists. In addition, it drew attention to mainstream antisemitism.10
One German movie on antisemitism drew some international attention. It was created by Joachim Schroeder and Sophie Hafner and titled “Chosen and Excluded.” The movie exposed antisemitism in Europe, the Middle East and Muslim communities. It was ordered by the French-German public broadcaster Arte, using the services of the German public broadcaster WDR.11
The latter accepted the movie and paid for it. Arte however decided not to broadcast it. Whatever reasons given, it is probable nearer to the truth that the documentary exposed the hatred of Jews and Israel among Muslims and leftists as well as right wing antisemitism. The largest German daily Bild — transgressing Arte’s copyright – then released the movie for free during twenty four hours. The WDR also aired the movie, however it distorted the film by interrupting it with comments, some of which were ridiculous. Later the Simon Wiesenthal Center showed the movie in Los Angeles with English subtitles.
Together with the German Jewish author Henryk Broder, Schroeder made a second documentary titled the “Eternal anti-Semite – the story of an unrequited love.” It exposes antisemitism in Germany, Sweden and France.12 It was broadcast on the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 2017.
At the end of 2017, Arte showed a short movie. It dealt with the life-threatening harassment by Muslim youngsters of a fourteen year old Jewish boy at a Berlin school. The movie was titled “Because you are a Jew.”13
With the many recent incidents of antisemitism in Europe including the burning of Israeli flags in Germany and the bombing of the Gothenburg synagogue during a meeting of a Jewish youth, there is already much additional material for new movies on antisemitism.
3 www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/21270; www.kinokoszyk.com/watchingthemoon/
11 www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-the-documentary-chosen-and-excluded-the-hate_us_5947bf51e4b0d188d028001b; www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-suppressed-Arte-antisemitism-documentary-in-historic-perspective-497683; www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-German-media-and-the-demonization-of-Israel-499134; www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/20775;
13 www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVgotbB0M34; www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/die-arte-reportage-weil-du-jude-bist-15263065.html; see also www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMFYPJQDJyw