'Viral: Anti-Semitism in Four Mutations': A Close-Up on Hatred

People of the Pod


In an unhealthy society? That has problems. They say who did this to us? And the Jews are always candidate. That's columnist George will who's featured in a new documentary on anti-semitism out in theaters across the country on Friday with us in the studio to discuss that film is its creator. Andrew Goldberg in two thousand nine. Andrew focused his lens on the resurgence of Anti Jewish hatred around the world and in mainstream media but after the two thousand sixteen election and the CHARLOTTESVILLE rally where protesters proclaimed the Jews will not replace us. Goldberg felt compelled to return to the topic for an even deeper exploration in viral for mutations of anti-semitism Goldberg travels through four countries. The United States Great Britain France and Hungary to speak firsthand with victims witnesses anti-semites an high profile figures including bill. Clinton Tony Blair Deborah Lipstadt and AJC Europe director. Simone Rodin Benkin in Pittsburgh. He examined the far right ideas that led to the attack on the tree of life synagogue in Hungary he looks at the Anti Immigration. Anti George Soros anti-jewish propaganda promoted by the government and in the UK. He explores the pain caused by the Anti Zionist messages from the UK's Labor Party the film also explores the repeated violence against Jews in France carried out by Islamists Andrew. Welcome glad to be here. Thank you so thank you for making this documentary and I'm curious. Can you kind of take our audience back to the original conception of it and how it evolved over time since I believe some events actually transpired in the making of the documentary will shortly after the election? We noticed there was sort of an uptick in anti Semitic incidents around the country. There were series a bomb threats which we know turned out to be bogus but those caught. Everyone's attention and suddenly everyone was noticing things and shortly after that a lot of tombstones were desecrated several different cemeteries and then the sort of global eyeballs started to notice these things talk about them more in the press and online and we immediately thought we should make a film about antisemitism and we didn't know what it would look like or what it would be. I think our initial thoughts were that would be about the United States but as we did more and more research and we knew this was a global issue. We knew it was happening in other countries. But as you unpack these things you realize that. There's an urgency to a lot of these stories and so we decided to really expanded and to look at four different situations. Those would be the far right in the United States. The far left in England in Hungary where the prime minister has launched a massive PR campaign against a Jewish philanthropist and in France where Islamist have been killing Jews in various terror attacks and other violent attacks against Jews to the tune of what unofficial numbers seemed to be more than three thousand a year. Now you've been making documentaries and doing journalism for twenty years As have I and I was a religion reporter for fifteen years in Chicago and I will tell you when I came here. I was stunned by just how much people hate. Jews. And I'm curious you I. I mentioned this to a former colleague at the Tribune recently and his response. He's in his eighties. He said we'll of course you grew up at a different time You know it's no surprise to me but yeah of course you didn't realize I'm just curious if this was a real shock to your system as you were doing the reporting the idea that Jews are hated was never foreign to me. I mean keep in mind. I'm fifty one and so I grew up where the Holocaust was not that far off. I mean I was raised in the seventies so I guess it was still thirty years old but it was not as it is now sixty plus years old where the next generation of people don't even know it was there Growing UP IN CHICAGO BEING JEWISH WAS It was not something to be celebrated at least among my friends and among my peers. I was made fun of for it a few times. It wasn't I didn't grow up in the midst of it but the Holocaust was connected to us in a way that it was very very real and so for that reason I understood that Jews were absolutely despised and I started making films in my first film that had anything to do with Jewish subjects was around two thousand and two or so and you know it was about Eastern European Jewish life before the war. So we're talking about you. Know all black and white footage of shuttles of Warsaw of what we might call the Yiddish world and that whole world is utterly destroyed in Eastern Europe and in Europe and in Russia and that made it pretty easy to see and in doing that film I started to learn about it. I automate fillmore at antisemitism in the media in the Middle East at one point and you realize that it is it is widespread. There's Anti Semitism where there are Jews. There's antisemitism where there are not Jews. There's Anti Semitism among people who are friends with Jews so my awareness of this has grown so in other words you entered into this project knowing there was a history of this but you had never seen it kind of in the current context as well. I had not seen it the way I see it now. I when I made a film in two thousand seven on antisemitism in the in the in the arab-islamic world per particularly North Africa and the Middle East I didn't focus that much on Europe and the US at the time antisemitism in the US was a very minor issue compared to what it is now. I don't want to say it was minor because there were plenty of people experiencing antisemitism but we didn't have it to the magnitude and we didn't have the Internet the way we do now but I knew that it was alive and well in the Middle East and that was surprising to see just how deep it is just how woven into the fabric of conversation and media it is. I was interviewing some kids in Egypt on the street and I said to them what are Jews they said User Satan Jews are evil. Juice should die. I said what if a Jewish kid was walking right here across the street and got hit by a car. They said we would call an ambulance. These two ideas existed right next to each other. And that's what's so interesting. One is in the abstract one is in the day to day Would you say that abstract versus day day is what's also infecting Western Europe United States? This wave of anti-semitism that we're seeing or is it. Is it very different? I think they crossover so for example. In Hungary there's virtually no violence against Jews In Hungary a survey showed that forty percent. Forty two percent of Hungarians held at least one or more anti Semitic views. Does that mean that? The people by larger anti-semites probably not but it means that the numbers are higher. Those numbers were higher than they were anywhere else in Europe or give or take a country. How many countries are there in Europe? A lot right so but there's no violence against Jews physical violence. That's what I mean physical violence against Jews but those lines do tend to cross over at points and so the fear is that it can translate these nationalist movement so in Hungary just to give some context the government has launched a huge campaign against George. Soros it's on Mute right now. It's not running right now but it ran not too long ago during the European Union elections. It came back up again. I asked one of the spokespeople of Hungary will come back and he told me that it would come back in a very consistent way so the whole idea that the Hungarian government has put forth. Is that this Jewish billionaire. George Soros is out to flood the nation with Muslim immigrants and since Muslim immigrants in the eyes of the Hungarian government are bad. You the Hungarian citizen the White Christian Hungarian citizen are in danger. And you're in danger because of a Jew. So here's these people are all worked up about a Jew who actually isn't doing anything like this but yet at the same time they're not vandalizing. All the Jewish shops are not beating Jews. And what have you? Although there's I've heard some rumblings that a little of that has happened so we'll have to see but I'm no expert on the data right. Well I think that's the argument. I mean argument. Deborah Lipstadt makes in the film. For example it starts with words it starts with comments and then does eventually escalate. That's the danger of not addressing it nipping in the bud. When you see. I think that's here right so I think that in America we've seen rage on the Internet translate into violence than I think you know the hatred in Hungary is really a government media campaign which took place on TV on the radio on the Internet. But also on billboards outside it was like an all encompassing life. You would drive down the street and you'd be bombarded with it here This antisemitism isn't billboards. I mean there's we'd see them occasionally but it's all on the Internet and people get the Internet sort of like you and your computer. You Lock yourself in this little space and then you start to get worked up and you start to hate and so we see that. Not all but many of these. Violent attacks in the United States are people who sort of incubated these ideas on the Internet. You raise a good point billboards in Hungary that was the been the vehicle of communication there for that. Soros campaign but I'm curious what about social media. What about the comments in violence on social media is it just as rampant in places like Hungary as it is here we'll so the makeup and the nature of the of the campaign in Hungary? We didn't break down so I don't know what percentage of it certainly on social media and not only was it on social media is a place where people can share about it right so in addition to whatever the government put on social media because the government had all these different forms they had radio they had. Tv They billboards aid magazines. It's social media mailings mailing mailing which is in the film How much of their media mix was the Internet? I don't know but if you're a person with anti Semitic views you can't do anything with billboard but some people did right hateful messages on billboards with magic markers in pain. They actually vandalize them. But by and large the billboards are you don't interact with them in the billboard. Don't post against back and forth a TV commercial. You don't respond to that. The Internet is where everybody took their hatred in their dislike of George Soros and they brought it to the Internet. And I think that's a place where you would see a lot more of this. Anti Jewish rhetoric the Internet is where it becomes the People's action not the government right. You have obsession in the film that talks about the brief history of blaming Jews. And you talk about the films that you've done in the past and the history of this but one critique of the film that I've read is that doesn't include enough historical context now I hear this critique all the time as a journalist you only have so much space or time right to address the whole of a situation but I'm curious what your thoughts are on whether to include more history or trajectory. The history of antisemitism is extremely complex. It grows out of misinterpretations if that's a word of people misinterpreted biblical scripture. It's changed and it's more throughout the centuries throughout Europe. If you WANNA talk about how it's been a part of the story of Christianity knew very thorny and complicated history which takes a long time to get in and out of now take that for a minute and think about. We have limited shelf space in our movie. I always say to people in movies not a casserole but take that from it in a notice that in the film we have that history. We have extensive history of the civil rights movement in the United States with history of the entire Orban's campaign and where that came from in Hungary in Oregon was we talk all about a migration and the history of colonialism in France as to give the backbone of that in England we talk about the Labor Party going all the way back to two thousand and eight. What we don't do is this deep analysis of Christian history but my response is also this. If I make a film about racism in about how African Americans are being shot in the street by police. Do I need to tell you? The history of why blacks are disliked by racists in this country. If I talk about misogyny do I need to tell you? The history of why people are misogynists to me and the same goes for LGBTQ. Americans no one's asking why. Why do I need to get into the fact of why Trans People are being murdered? Right now are being beaten up. I don't need to analyze that. Well that too comes from the Bible. Right hatred of homophobia grows right out of scripture. But I don't need to give that analysis so it's a it. We talk about double standards and antisemitism and I don't want to say this is anti Semitism but it's almost a reflex that people feel like anything has to do with Jews. With antisemitism with Israel has to be held to some type of second order of scrutiny and I found that a little bit frustrating. There've been some debates on college campuses about whether or not Jewish students who are pro. Israel can join feminist marches. Lgbtq right marches. You other causes. They feel excluded from those causes because of their Zionist positions and so. That's where intersection. -ality has come up a lot in conversations here is how do you address that exclusion? Even though it's very different causes communities have gotten together and there has not been room for the Jewish issue of antisemitism has four complicated reasons not been welcome into that crew. Because many in this left is idea. Do not like how they don't like what's going on with the Arab Israeli conflict let's not even parse the Israeli conflict. Unfortunate part of this. Is that a Jewish students who have nothing to do with Israel who are oblivious to Israel are still being singled out now. It's very dangerous to to assume. Length phrases like colleges are a battleground. We visited colleges as we spoke to a lot of students. It's a very complicated and mixed bag. But there's no doubt that on some college campuses and we don't have hard data on how or where or what we have a lot of anecdotes. We have a lot of very upset parents. We have a lot of very upset students. But what that actually translates into numbers. We don't know what we do know. Is that Jewish? Students are being asked to somehow be called to task for what Israel is said to be

Coming up next