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August 4, 2015 / 19 Av, 5775
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When Hatred Turns Lethal: An Interview with Filmmaker Gloria Greenfield

Gloria Greenfield

Gloria Greenfield

Although it was released in 2011, “Unmasked Judeophobia: The Threat to Civilization” is still playing to audiences across the world. As the title suggests, “Unmasked Judeophobia” examines the history of anti-Semitism and its alarming resurgence in the form of anti-Zionism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. On February 6 and 7, the film is screening at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue and the Museum of Tolerance New York, respectively – both at 7 p.m.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with the film’s director and producer, Gloria Greenfield. Greenfield has previously worked as strategy manager for the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, director of the Adult Learning Collaborative for Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and executive director of The David Project.

The Jewish Press: Many recent articles, books, and films have highlighted the increasing hatred against Jews and Israel around the world. What’s new about your film?

Greenfield: I travel all over the place, and the majority of people – even academics – tell me there is information in the film they weren’t aware of.

A lot of people don’t necessarily know about the speech in 1946 that Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, made articulating a commitment to continue the work of Hitler and the SS. Many people don’t know the strategy that the Muslim Brotherhood utilized in founding itself – that it realized it can get Muslims to stop killing each other, at least partially, by focusing on killing Jews and fighting Zionism. A lot of people don’t know about the daily broadcasts delivering Nazi propaganda into Arab countries throughout World War II.

Your film starts with the history of Christian anti-Semitism. Why? Hasn’t this topic been exhausted?

If I didn’t start with that, the film wouldn’t have had integrity – since it’s the truth.

But, in a sense, it’s also an example of hope. Lethal Jew-hatred started in the Christian world, but it no longer resides there because of reformations that happened from within the church. So if people decide they want to stop being genocidal murderers, it’s possible for them to stop.

            Your film is frightening in the amount of virulent anti-Semitism it depicts around the world. Suppose someone watches your film and wants to do something about anti-Semitism but doesn’t know where to turn: What would you tell that person?

Doc Emet Productions [which made the documentary] has actually released a companion activist guide to go with the film. It’s available on UnmaskedTheMovie.com. It gives about 65 pages of suggestions to fight hatred against the Jewish people – whether it’s focusing on what’s happening on university campuses, looking at textbooks [biased against Israel], lobbying elected officials, or watching media and writing letters to the editor and opinion pieces.

            Some Jews, especially in the Orthodox community, see anti-Semitism as almost inherent in the state of nature and hence a waste of time to fight. What would you say to such Jews?

Well, my concern and the film’s concern is lethal Jew-hatred. I’m not talking about discrimination. Do I think that hatred towards the Jewish people and Jewish state will ever totally be eliminated? I wouldn’t put my money on it. But I think it’s absolutely urgent that we diminish the hatred to levels that don’t threaten our lives.

At this point, I don’t really care about jokes about Jewish noses or whether there’s a country club that prefers not to have any Jews in it. My concern is genocide, and if one says that there’s always going to be lethal Jew-hatred, that’s a completely unacceptable thought for any decent person to have.

Some Jews, though, see anti-Semitism as a divine decree that’s unalterable.

But it’s a sin not to defend life. It seems like they’re confusing their own theology with Christian theology.

So you’re saying that even if it might be a divine decree, we should still fight it because God commanded us to defend life as best we can?

Look, I’m not saying that I don’t agree that there’s a reason for everything, but I believe that what we learn from a full reading of Torah texts is that Jews are obligated to fight for our survival and beliefs.

The title of your film is “Unmasked Judeophobia: The Threat to Civilization.” In what sense is anti-Semitism a threat to civilization?

Because when we look throughout history, a society that allows genocidal hatred toward the Jewish people falls apart. It becomes poisoned by that hatred. So it’s a message to non-Jews that they, as members of society, become poisoned if they don’t stand up and fight this.

            When “Unmasked Judeophobia” played in New York theaters late last year, some reviewers criticized it for packing too many topics into one film and conflating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

One can only make a statement like that if one didn’t understand what the point of the film was. The point of the film is that lethal Jew-hatred today is also directed toward the Jewish state because Israel is seen as the Jew among the nations.

And I don’t think I [packed too many topics into the film]. Judeophobia is vast and very complicated. There were actually a lot of things that I couldn’t put in the film because I didn’t have enough time – for instance what’s happening in Latin America.

But I’m not really interested in responding to reviews from the New York secular world. If that’s what you want to feed to your community, it would really be a shame. Have you read The Jerusalem Post review?

When a documentary comes out, you have to have someone with content review it. You can’t have some brainless leftist with no background who reviews it from a political perspective.

            You were once a radical feminist…

…Yes, I was. I am 62 years old today, so you’re asking me what I was doing when I was in my 20s?

No, it’s just interesting that a former radical feminist has made a pro-Israel film when so many radical feminists dislike Israel.

I always liked Israel – even when I was a radical feminist. I was raised as a Zionist and when I was a radical feminist I was, what people might refer to as, a right-wing Zionist. I left the feminist movement because of its dogma and the anti-Semitism of the women. I would not invest any more energy in a movement that nurtured Jew-hatred.

What’s your next film going to be about?

An examination of the historical connection between the land of Israel and the Jewish people, because many people today are denying that connection.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


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4 Responses to “When Hatred Turns Lethal: An Interview with Filmmaker Gloria Greenfield”

  1. Grace Acosta says:

    Wonderful interview, I can't wait to see the next movie!

  2. Grace Acosta says:

    Wonderful interview, I can't wait to see the next movie!

  3. Grace Acosta says:

    Wonderful interview, I can't wait to see the next movie!

  4. It seems that the actual yohrtzeit date of Hakod' David raziel is 23 iyar.Shchoyach (Rabbi) Eliakim J. Schwarz PS Its "appropriate "(so to speak, that its my brotherDavid's yohrtzeit He had worked very hard to establish a Beitar in.
    Chicago. @1 Iyar seems to also be the date of the massacre in Chevron circa 1980.
    (eliakimjschwarz@gmail.com)

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