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Friday, October 9, 2015

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Documentary ‘a call to action,’ filmmaker says

Tags: Arts

Unmasked Judeophobia – The Threat to Civilization, a documentary that examines the rise of anti-Jewish ideology around the world, was screened by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) on Jan. 15.

The film, which drew a packed audience, focuses on the proliferation of anti-Israel bias in academia and cultural institutions, misinformation campaigns and state-sanctioned denials of Israel’s right to exist.

According to the documentary’s website, “this is not just a war against the State of Israel. This current political assault is against the Jewish People and their right to self-determination… Jews are facing the possibility of the uprooting of the very idea that there should be a nation state of the Jewish People.”

Gloria Greenfield, the film’s director, travelled from Israel to Europe to North America to cover this phenomenon from all angles. She interviewed more than 70 experts, including Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, Senator Joe Lieberman, former American UN ambassador John Bolton, human rights activists Natan Sharansky and Irwin Cotler, British attorney Anthony Julius, Middle East senior fellow Caroline Glick and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Among the appalling incidents and remarks targeting Jews highlighted in the film, one scene alludes to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment that Israel must be wiped off the map. On this issue, Greenfield refers to Alvin Rosenfeld, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism in Indiana, who says, “One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that we have to be literalists. When we hear somebody say, ‘Kill the Jews,’ we have to realize they probably mean it.”

Greenfield has said in interviews that she considers the film to be “a call to action” and an urgent reminder that antisemitism is a danger not only to Jews, but to the human race.

When asked why FSWC chose to screen the documentary, education associate Stephanie Eldridge said the organization “is extremely concerned about the rise of global antisemitism and feels that it is important to understand it, as well as raise awareness about it.”

She said Unmasked Judeophobia speaks “intelligently and authoritatively to the very real and serious problem that FSWC works daily to counter. It is also a wonderful complement to our newly launched workshop on contemporary antisemitism called “The Canary in the Coal Mine: antisemitism old and new” now being offered to the thousands of students in the public, private and Catholic boards of education” in the Toronto area.

Eldridge said she hopes the audience “learned more about the nature of antisemitism in the world today and came away with a desire to act. For FSWC to succeed in our efforts to eradicate all forms of blind hatred, antisemitism included, we rely on the support of individuals who are both informed and driven to act.”

The next FSWC community event will be held Feb. 12 and will tie into Black History Month. With a focus on the topic of “Black Germans and the Holocaust,” Pat Wright of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion will examine the lives of black people living in Germany under the Third Reich.

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