(directed by Yoav Shamir, 2009)
**** (out of 5)
> There is a new generation of Israeli Jew, who are so removed from the trials of their ancestors they have no direct experience of anti-Semitism.
. They live in a comfortable echo chamber, where their parents and grandparents talk guardedly about defeating anti-Semitism, yet they don’t see the ugly beast in their daily lives. Such a man is filmmaker Yoav Shamir, whose life was comfortable enough that he had to ask himself: “Who are these people who supposedly hate me just for who I am?” A courageous question to ask. Yoav tags along with a group of young teens on a field trip to Auschwitz, to record their reactions and questions, then interviews representatives of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League in pursuit of an anti-Semitic act to highlight in his film, but for the most part, can only find small incidents that don’t amount to much. He goes into the black neighborhoods in NYC where he hears there is long-simmering tension between their community and the adjacent Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and yes- he does find ignorant anti-Jewish sentiments. But for the most part, he concludes, that saber-rattling about the threat to the Jewish state from rampant anti-Semitism, is a boogieman conjured by the Israeli right to keep the pro-Israel lobby in a money-giving frenzy.
. This fearless filmmaker interviews pariahs who dare to say it’s time for Israel and Israelis to move beyond the horrors of the holocaust, to stop being so reactive and stuck in the past, and cease defining themselves by the wrongs that have been done to them. Yoav raises the interesting question: “Are anti-Zionists anti-Semitic?” and concludes that Israeli hysteria to the side, they are two different animals. By his definition I am anti-Zionist: I oppose the brutal policies of the paranoid rightwing Israeli government, which is not to say I have any problem with Jews themselves or with Judaism- any more than any other religion. (I cannot help being somewhere between indifferent and hostile to all religions.) But many Israelis are so kneejerk defensive, this is not a distinction they are willing to entertain. This brave film takes them on without blinking. DEFAMATION is a very interesting insider look at Israeli and Jewish culture. I suggest it highly for anyone with an interest in the subject.
> LET ALL VOICES BE HEARD- EVEN THOSE WHO HAVE SOMETHING UNPOPULAR TO SAY!
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