“Unmasked: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization,” which the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District will screen, Monday, June 11, 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill, is an important and credible film to watch.
It’s important because it distills the history and ramifications of anti-Semitism from its earliest days to the modern era.
It’s credible because the wide range of authorities who were interviewed for this film — Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz; former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler; Adm. R. James Woolsey, former CIA director in the Clinton administration; Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the United Kingdom; U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; and Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Stephens to name a few — are respected sources who guarantee this cannot be a propaganda project.
“I interviewed 70 leading experts –– who happened to be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim –– from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, the U.S., and Venezuela in the fields of history, law, literature, media, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology,” Gloria Z. Greenfield, director and producer of the project, said in a Jan. 18 interview with the Connecticut edition of the Jewish Ledger. “As a documentary filmmaker, that’s one of the ways that I make sure I’m getting the whole and true picture.”
To be sure, ignoring anti-Semitism, pretending it is a relic of the past, has not defanged this social disease. But why has it survived into the 21st century?
The answers, we learn in the film, are varied.
The film looks at the root of religious anti-Semitism (the belief that the Jews killed Jesus) as well as racial anti-Semitism (the Jews are seen as a scourge on society sand must be eliminated). It lays bare the canard that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are two parallel tracks. They are, in reality, one and the same.
Viewers should not watch this film with any satisfactory “I told you so” attitudes. They should receive with sadness its message that this irrational and insidious hatred survives, but also with a resolution to meet the threat head-on — for our children’s sake if no one else’s.
The film takes no political positions regarding peace with the Palestinians, Iran’s nuclear program or any other hot-button issue. That’s how it should be. Anti-Semitism affects conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican, Laborite and Likudnik.
One must keep in mind there are other narratives to the debate on anti-Semitism, even in the Jewish world, than the one expressed in this film. Nevertheless, “Unmasked” is well researched, well edited and an important tool to educate about the evils of anti-Semitism.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at email@example.com.)