There is a brand-new documentary that focuses on the relationship between American universities and their Jewish students, particularly those who support Israel. The movie is called “Hate Spaces” and that gives you an idea of how those Jewish students are treated.
Of course the name is a play on the current ridiculous yet widespread notion that American college students need “safe spaces” – sometimes equipped with crayons or puppies or soft pillows – from any ideas that might make them even a teensy bit uncomfortable.
This film is a must-see. “Hate Spaces” is so chock-full of important facts, details and examples that it could easily provide the basis for a full semester course, yet it has been masterfully edited down to a mere 110 minutes long.
Another reason why this film is so useful is that it interweaves current examples and interviews with a historic progression of the problem on American campuses.
Writer, producer and director Avi Goldwasser discussed the film with the JewishPress.com on Monday evening. He explained that he and his colleagues at Americans for Peace and Tolerance have “been observing the increased hostility toward Jewish students on campus for the past decade.” Goldwasser and his colleague Charles Jacobs produced the 2004 film “Columbia Unbecoming,” which they thought “would be a wake up call for the Jewish community and the people of New York,” Goldwasser continued.
Although the 2004 film was shocking in terms of how blatant was the animus towards Israel, it did not bring the hoped-for change. Even sadder is that things have only gotten much worse since then.
“Most people do not realize how the hostility is being institutionalized, made fashionable by a combination of forces including radical faculty, radical student organizations, and an enabling university administration. While many anti-Jewish incidents and the BDS campaign are reported by the media, few are willing to connect the dots and report on the underlying ideology and extremist organizations that are inciting the hostility.”
And connect the dots is exactly what “Hate Spaces” does. Awareness slowly dawns on the viewer as what appeared to be merely a series of ugly campus incidents is woven together. That weave reveals the comprehensive pathology undergirding the movement which is ultimately seeking to completely delegitimize Jewish identification with American Jews and the Jewish State, and which gets a pass from most university administrators.
A quote in the film from the Facebook page of Marissa Rubin, a Temple University student, pretty much sums it up: “I am tired of anti-Semitism being a completely normal occurrence, and people standing idly by because, as long as they are only going after Jews, nobody cares.”
“Hate Spaces” very effectively breaks down the issue of gross indifference towards American Jews on campus into manageable segments, such as “Tenured Hatred,” “Intersectionality,” “Privileged Hatred,” and “Failed Leadership.” There is plenty of blame to be apportioned and Goldwasser and his colleagues make strong cases for each portion.
The film also plumbs the progressive elitist drive which is married to the more raw Jew-hatred that melds to marginalize Jews on campuses. It uncovers the funding sources, the historical backgrounds and the interconnectedness of the villains.
Perhaps most pointed is the film’s criticism of the faculty and college administrators who, to be charitable, are manipulated by the dark forces in ways similar – although a billion dollars of donations does thicken the plot – to the impressionable students. The weak-kneed prog-elites are exposed as seeking acceptance and accolades for their progressive values which are completely inverted when it comes to the Jewish minority and the tiny Jewish State.
Many of those who have been diligently slogging away against the world of campus anti-Semitism are used to great effect in “Hate Spaces.” There are informed and enlightening snippets of interviews with such luminaries as the journalists and authors Melanie Phillips and Caroline Glick, along with Cornell University professor and founding blogger at Legal Insurrection William Jacobson, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, Alan Dershowitz, the Brandeis Center’s Kenneth Marcus, ZOA’s Sue Tuchman, Jonathan Schanzer, Richard Landes and the ubiquitous Chloé Simone Valdary. Strong, important, concise points are made by each of them.
When he spoke to the Jewish Press, Goldwasser echoed a leitmotif of the film, one pressed especially by Melanie Phillips on camera. Truth has been distorted or even abandoned on college campuses, where “ideology and narrative trump truth.” For that reason Goldwasser is hoping that the film will “energize the public to demand that our leaders in the community and on campus live up to their stated values. What is happening on campus is contrary to American values, to values of decency.”
And every reader of this review will have the chance to be energized. You need to see the film, then you need to act. For those in the New York area, the premiere will take place this Wednesday, Nov. 30, at Symphonyspace.
For other screenings, check out the APT website. Watch the trailer.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus