Friday, October 19, 2012

Unmasked Judeophobia: Hatred on the March

The Middle East is like the Land of Oz.  We are told to ignore the man behind the curtain with the explosives strapped to his body.  He is the victim we are told.  So who is the oppressor?  Israel: the only country in the region where the rights of women and the GLBT community are protected.  How dare they.  Yet, this is not an isolated episode of temporary media insanity.  Gloria Z. Greenfield traces the historical anti-Semitic roots of the Hate-Israel Lobby in Unmasked Judeophobia: the Threat to Civilization (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Everyone with an elementary school education should be aware of the blood-chilling horrors unleashed by anti-Semitism in the Twentieth Century.  Sadly, this does not include Iran’s president and Holocaust denier-in-chief, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  As Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel explains, many thought the widespread shock and sorrow inspired by the Holocaust would act as a permanent check on violent institutionalized anti-Semitism.  Tragically, that has not been the case.

Now fast forward to the present day.  Throughout Europe, hate crimes against Jews are at an all time high. Ahmadinejad calls for Israel to be wiped off the map and the UN shrugs.  A “mainstream” Scandinavian newspaper publishes a scurrilous libel against the Israeli people and, unlike the “Innocence of Muslims” kerfuffle, the government and the EU can’t be bothered to respond.

Greenfield identifies the historical antecedents for such events, including the publication of the Czarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (still a bestseller across the Muslim world), and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem’s enthusiast support for Hitler and his “Final Solution” during World War II.  In fact, Judeophobia makes a critical point.  The only Axis-aligned countries where the Allies did not actively disseminate information on the Holocaust and establish policies to curb extremism were in the Islamic countries of the Mideast and North Africa.

Co-produced by Greenfield, Michael Yohay’s thematically related The Case for Israel, was more focused, establishing point-by-point the democratic virtues of the State of Israel, particularly in comparison to their hostile neighbors.  (Case also featured a more distinctive soundtrack composed by Israeli jazz musician and former Paquito D’Rivera sideman Alon Yavnai, but perhaps I digress.) In contrast, Judeophobia’s thesis is somewhat less defined, essentially boiling down to “yikes, things have gotten bad.”  Nevertheless, Greenfield and her impressive cast of interview subjects argue the question very convincingly.

Indeed, Greenfield has an unusually knowledgeable and authoritative battery of experts to draw upon, including former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former Soviet Refusenik Natan Sharansky, former Canadian Liberal Party Minister for Justice Irwin Cotler, and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.  Through their testimony, Greenfield convincingly links the overheated rhetoric aimed at Israel, often hypocritically couched in the language of human rights and concern for the downtrodden “Palestinians,” with the incontrovertible anti-Semitism of previous eras.  Frankly, after watching Judeophobia, it is impossible to pretend there is any difference between “anti-Zionism” and anti-Semitism.

Judeophobia is bound to generate some anguished critical hand-wringing, because it hits pretty close to home, exposing some rather unsavory attitudes in the so-called “peace movement,” academia, and the old media.  The truth can be tough to face.  That is exactly why Judeophobia and The Case for Israel before it are so needed.  Informative, dispassionate, and scary as all get-out, Unmasked Judeophobia is highly recommended for New Yorkers who think they understand the state of the world but only rely on one or two sources for news.  It opens today (10/19) at the Quad.