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Intent on shaking up the ultimate 'sacred cow' for Jews, Israeli director Yoav Shamir embarks on a provocative - and at times irreverent - quest to answer the question, "What is anti-Semitism today?" Does it remain a dangerous and immediate threat? Or is it a scare tactic used by right-wing Zionists to discredit their critics? Speaking with an array of people from across the political spectrum (including the head of the Anti-Defamation League and its fiercest critic, author Norman Finkelstein) and traveling to places like Auschwitz (alongside Israeli school kids) and Brooklyn (to explore reports of violence against Jews), Shamir discovers the realities of anti-Semitism today. His findings are shocking, enlightening and - surprisingly - often wryly funny. Written by
Are you saying anti-Semitism is an Israeli invention? A Jewish invention?
Anti-Semitism? Anti-Semitism *today* ? All in all, yes. Everybody is scared of anti-Semitism because of its history and Jews have always been terrified. In America, where Jews are so strong and influential, they are scared of their own shadows. Every moment, behind every tree, an anti-Semite hides. Bullshit! There is nothing like that. Anti-Arabs, anti-Muslims, anti-Black, anti whatever you like, yes. Anti-Semites? You'd ...
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Thought this movie did a good job a laying out some basic issues surrounding questions of anti-Semitism, support and criticism of Israel, and the role of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.
The movie benefited from the personal reflections of the director on the movie's subject, but on the other hand I often felt the movie relied too much on colorful depictions of individuals and groups and too little on a more "objective" and data-based examination of the question of whether and how much actual (and not just imagined) anti-Semitism results in harm to people around the world.
A longer, more carefully researched film could probably have matched the depictions offered in this film with data about and the testimony of people who have been the brunt of truly injurious anti-Semitic prejudice.
That said, I do feel the attitudes and beliefs illustrated by the individuals and groups depicted in this film are--as the film suggests--probably very often more at the root of concern about anti-Semitism than any real incidence of the latter.
But, still, that's a very sweeping generalization and would need to be "documented"--something this documentary doesn't seem to do a great deal of.
However, this was a very interesting and colorful film about a number of issues central to Jewish identity (especially the identity of "secular" Jews), and could be very valuable in sparking sharper thought and discussion about those issues. And also in encouraging more research on the actual extent, or lack thereof, of anti-Semitism around the world.
16 of 28 people found this review helpful.
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