An interview with Gloria Greenfield; producer of “Unmasked: Judeophobia”
BY: FERN SIDMAN
For those who have ever pondered the eternal question of why Jew hatred has reared its ugly head in every generation since time immemorial, filmmaker Gloria Greenfield of Doc Emet Productions, enlightens and informs audiences in her riveting, new documentary entitled, “Unmasked: Judeophobia.” Meticulously researched and brilliantly presented, the film examines the alarming escalation of anti-Jewish animus through the lens of renowned historians, prolific authors and respected voices in the arena of international law.
Covering this egregious phenomenon from key angles, Ms. Greenfield travels the globe as she assiduously seeks to explore historical Christian and contemporary Islamist polemics against Jews. Moreover, such timely and hot-button topics as the proliferation of anti-Israel bias in academia and cultural institutions, misinformation campaigns, and state-sanctioned calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and the murder of Jews around the world are treated with the gravitas that they deserve. The film is a clarion call to action and a grim reminder that anti-Semitism is not exclusively a nemesis to Jews, but to the human condition as well.
I sat down with Gloria Greenfield to discuss the genesis of “Unmasked: Judeophobia,” the subject matter in the film and her personal perspectives on the existential threat that modern anti-Semitism plays in the lives of the Jewish people, both personally and collectively.
FS: Why did you and Doc Emet Productions decide to make “Unmasked: Judeophobia” at this juncture in time? Was this film in the pipeline for years and was it released now as a response to the escalation of radical Islam?
GG: I have to credit Irwin Cotler for planting the idea in my mind. During the Philadelphia screening of The Case for Israel – Democracy’s Outpost (Doc Emet Productions, 2008) he leaned over and whispered in my ear that the next film should be about the resurgence of a new viral stream of anti-Semitism. While I initially filed his suggestion somewhere in my mind, as I continued to travel extensively throughout North America engaging audiences in post-screening discussions, I observed that too many good and decent people were unaware of the resurgence of lethal Jew-hatred in regions around the world. Many were also unaware of the history of complicity of Islamist leaders with the Nazi regime during the Holocaust, as well as the Islamists’ stated intent after the fall of the Nazi regime to continue Hitler’s work.
Without that context, people mistakenly believed that the virulent hatred being expressed toward Israel related to policies and/or territory held by Israel. They thought that the hatred was Israel’s fault and if only Israel would make itself smaller and weaker, the hatred would dissipate. In offering an examination of the contemporary manifestations of lethal Jew-hatred against the backdrop of history, the view gains better insight into the driving forces behind the calls to wipe the Jewish homeland off the face of the earth and to murder Jews wherever we can be found.
The final impetus for me to launch the making of Unmasked Judeophobia was watching a film in 2010 produced by Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir that enraged me. While Shamir stated that his intent was to investigate whether anti-Semitism really existed, the Euro-funded film was actually, as Stella Paul described in American Thinker, “a cinematic rant that accuses Holocaust survivors of exploiting their experiences for financial gain and condemns Israel for committing Nazi-like crimes.”
FS: The film opens with Holocaust historian and author Elie Wiesel issuing a frightening warning about the proliferation of anti-Semitism. He states that he thought that Jew hatred had made its final exit from the annals of history after the Holocaust. While making this film, did you come to the conclusion that “Judeophobia” is endemic to the Jewish experience?
GG: Judeophobia has nothing to do with the nature of Jews. Rather, as Ruth Wisse brilliantly articulates in her analysis of the pointed finger, Judeophobia has everything to do with the political needs of those who forged Jew-hatred as a political tool; they need this politics of accusation, grievance and scape-goating. In my interview with Wisse in August 2010, she warned that “it is high time that people really begin to look at anti-Semitism in terms of its political function and consider the role that it plays in the politics of its users—whether they are autocrats or totalitarian oppressors, or whether they are religious radicals or secular radicals—look at the role that Jew-bating plays in their political scheme.”
FS: Today, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is still widely read and embraced by Jew haters. In your opinion, why haven’t more historians boldly stepped up to the plate and exposed it as the fraud that it is? And what has the Ford Foundation done to explain the role that founder Henry Ford had in financing it?
GG: I haven’t found an official explanation on the part of the Ford Foundation. I don’t know if they had a role in the writing or editing of the questionable Wikipedia article on Henry Ford, which contends that Ford never actually read the articles published in the Dearborn International—which included excerpts from Protocols.
However, the Ford Foundation certainly has a lot of explaining to do about its own complicity and funding of organizations that incite Judeophobia. While Ford Foundation President Susan Berresford in November 2003 made a commitment to cease funding organizations that incite anti-Semitism or challenge Israel’s legitimacy, merely three years later the Ford Foundation funded, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, a three-day conference in Italy’s Lake Como to discuss academic boycotts and their relation to academic freedom, in which more than a third of the participants publicly supported boycotting Israeli universities.
I find it most telling that most historians outside of the field of anti-Semitism, as well as non-Jewish NGOs with the mission of fighting hatred, ignore the continued popularity of Protocols of the Elders of Zion in regions around the world. In Unmasked Judeophobia, Yisrael Ne’eman points to the direct connection between Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Hamas Covenant. Chapter 22 of Protocols accuses the Jews of trying to buy the entire world through their acquisition of gold. And that’s how Chapter 22 of the Hamas Covenant begins. They do not say gold but they speak of money, they speak of controlling the media, they speak of Jews controlling money throughout the world, causing all the revolutions that exist; Jews are accused of being behind all the evil that anyone could imagine. The Jews in the Hamas Covenant, Article 22, are accused of destroying the Islamic Caliphate, just like in the Protocols, the Jews are seen as trying to undermine the Pope, religion and aristocracy.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is so popular that it’s been adapted into film. In Egypt in 2002, Protocols of the Elders of Zion was made into a 41-part television series, which was broadcast during Ramadan on Egyptian television and then sold to at least 17 other Islamic television channels. In 2003, Syria and Hezbollah produced a 29-part television series based on Protocols.
In 2005, Iranian booksellers displayed copies of Protocols and The International Jew at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Protocols is still accepted as truthful in large parts of Latin America and Asia and continues to be a bestseller in Turkey.
And it’s been present in the United States. In 2002, the Arabic-language newspaper The Arab Voice (Paterson, New Jersey) published excerpts from Protocols. Walid Rabah, the paper’s editor and publisher, defended himself from criticism with the argument that “some major writers in the Arab nation accept the truth of the book.”
The American retail chain Wal-Mart sold The Protocols of the Elders of Zion on its website with a description that suggested it might be genuine: “If … The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither support nor deny its message. We simply make it available for those who wish a copy.”
After intense campaigning by the Simon Weisenthal Center and ADL, Protocols was withdrawn from sale in September 2004. Offering no explanation why it plugged The Protocols to begin with, Wal-Mart quietly yanked it off its website the next day. In an email to the Reuters news agency, a Wal-Mart official would only say, “Based on significant customer feedback regarding the book titled ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,’ we have made a business decision to remove this book.”
Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam distributed Protocols in the United States and released this year The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, an anti-Semitic screed masquerading as history. In 2011, Texe Marrs, an American writer who runs the Christian ministry, Power of Prophecy Ministries, published an edition of the Protocols, with his own foreword and additional notes by Henry Ford.
FS: Your film addresses the issue of virulent anti-Zionism being tantamount to anti-Semitism. Critics of your film say it is a “white-washing” of Israel. Do you believe that one can be critical of Israeli policy and not harbor anti-Semitic beliefs?
GG: First, let’s clarify terms. Criticism of policies and/or issues related to territory is not in itself anti-Zionist. To be anti-Zionist is to be against the right for the nation-state of the Jewish people to exist, regardless of policies or territories. Unless an anti-Zionist was opposed to the existence of every nation-state in the world, including a Palestinian state, there would be no way to understand the anti-Zionist stance as anything other than racism against the Jewish people.
FS: Many renowned scholars were interviewed in the film and provided a sophisticated analysis of the subject of Judeophobia. How did you select these scholars and how do you feel they affected the outcome of the film?
GG: Judeophobia is a complicated, heterogeneous phenomenon and I invested a significant amount of time researching current analyses by leading experts in the field. Several scholars and analysts, including Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, Professors Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University and Elchanan Yakira of Hebrew University, Philippe Karsenty and Nidra Poller of Paris, and Emanuele Ottolenghi of Brussels were very generous in their willingness to refer me to specific experts and in many cases to make the introductions. I interviewed 70 leading experts—who happened to be Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim—from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Rumania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, the United States and Venezuela in the fields of history, law, literature, media, philosophy political science, psychology and sociology. I also engaged a prominent scholar not associated with the project to vet the script after it was completed to verify accuracy.
The time that I spent in Paris, London and Brussels interviewing scholars, analysts and security experts was incredibly enlightening. I was both inspired by their courage and determination, and shocked by the reality and dimensions of the Jew-hatred being expressed—physically and verbally—in Europe. As important, having had the privilege of engaging in a three-hour interview with Professor Robert Wistrich, who is without a doubt the leading scholar of the history of Jew-hatred, afforded me an invaluable context. Much can be said for every scholar, analyst, and expert that I interviewed. The caliber of expertise of the commentators in Unmasked Judeophobia is outstanding, and the overall experience of making this film was personally transformative.
FS: Currently in such European countries as France and other places, incidents of anti-Semitism have reached an alarming rate. Could you comment on what factors you think are contributing to such venomous hatred?
GG: It would be dishonest to ignore the direct connection between the significant influx of Muslim immigrants into European countries—along with their radicalization by Islamist ideologues in European mosques and the public square–with the resurgence of lethal Judeophobia. Having said that, it is equally important to recognize that the manifestations of Jew-hatred that emanate from Muslim communities in Europe would not be possible without the complicity and empowerment by the non-Muslim hard-Left and hard-Right.
FS: Has your film been shown in countries other than the US and Canada and will you be bringing the film to other parts of the world such as Australia and Asia?
GG: A week after Unmasked Judeophobia’s world premiere on October 24, 2011 at the Paris Theater in New York, it screened to full houses in theaters in South Africa in Johannesburg and Cape Town; it has also screened several times in Israel, the United Kingdom and Australia. The film is having its Latin American premiere in Argentina on November 15th and then will tour throughout Latin America. I will be doing a UK tour of Unmasked Judeophobia in London, Birmingham, and Liverpool in early December; and a South Africa tour in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Durban in January. We’ve just completed translations of Unmasked Judeophobia into Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish and as soon as the DVD with multi-language subtitles is completed, the world tour will begin.
FS: Clearly, the state of Israel is under siege by the international community. Recently, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that he does not think there will be a Jewish state in 10 years time. Do you feel that your film confirms this speculation and if not, do you feel that the film will serve as a wake-up call for vigilance on this subject?
GG: Unmasked Judeophobia is meant as a clarion call, as a tekiah gedolah blast. In Biblical times, tekiah was sounded on the shofar to raise awareness, to sound the alarm, to assemble all good people to action. We live in historic times, a time of inversion and a time when state-sanctioned calls for killing Jews and wiping the Jewish state off the map is regarded as unremarkable; when racists at anti-Israel demonstrations on the streets of North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa can chant “Send the Jews back to the ovens” and “Hitler was right” without repercussion.
My hope is that viewers will have their individual and collective consciousness raised. The lights must get turned on. It is imperative for good, decent people to recognize and acknowledge what is happening. Only then can action effect change. We may never totally eradicate Jew-hatred, but at the barest minimum, it is imperative that Jew-hatred be diminished to non-lethal levels. Genocidal Jew-hatred—whether manifested against individual Jews, the Jewish collective or both—must be scorned, prosecuted and eradicated. And that is what we will accomplish. If anything is endemic to the Jewish people it is our determination, will, hope and faith. We affirmed our future by declaring the State of Israel. We need to reaffirm our future by facing reality, standing tall and doing what needs to be done.
FS: As depicted in your film, the scourge of radical Islam has far reaching tentacles. Do you think your film might serve to galvanize other groups such as Western-style feminists, Coptic Christians and Hindus to assume a more vocal posture on the perilous consequences of this kind of unchecked radicalism?
GG: If honor killings, stonings, female genital mutilation, arranged child marriages, and gang rapes of women under Islamist tyranny don’t galvanize Western-style feminists, then I’m not sure what will. Coptic Christians are galvanized—they are being murdered, forced into conversion and terrorized; it is their Christian brethren in the West that needs to be galvanized into action on their behalf and Unmasked Judeophobia is having an impact with Christian audiences.
The Hindu leaders that I have spoken with need no galvanizing from us. Their analyses and responses are quite intense though on the mark, and regrettably I had to make the decision against including their interviews in the film for fear of offending Western sensibilities.
FS: It would appear to some that radical Islam has not been sufficiently condemned by the democratically elected governments in the Western world. Would you attribute that reluctance to speak out in opposition to this, a fear of being considered “politically incorrect” or “racist” and what role do you think multicultural relativism plays in this?
GG: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his administration are the quintessential role models for real leaders. Canada is standing with integrity, dignity, courage and principles. I don’t think the reluctance on the part of political leadership is related to multicultural relativism or fears of being labeled racist or politically incorrect. That kind of reluctance is found among students, intellectuals and in the public square. The reluctance on the part of political leadership comes from ineptness and lack of strategic thinking: too many Western leaders refuse to learn the harsh lesson from Chamberlain’s experience: appeasement of totalitarian despots and terrorists not only fails, but it empowers the totalitarians and disempowers the moderates.
FS: What has been the general reaction to your film from the major North American Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, The American Jewish Committee, the Zionist Organization of America, etc? Have they encouraged their members to see this film and have they initiated debates and dialogues about it?
GG: The number of Jewish organizations and institutions that have been sponsoring screenings is encouraging in terms of willingness and courage to stand up for truth. Many Jewish federations, Community Relations Councils, Jewish Community Centers, and Jewish film festivals as well as chapters of the Anti-Defamation League, Aish Hatorah, American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith, CAMERA, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hadassah, Jewish National Fund, MERCAZ, National Council for Jewish Women, StandWithUs, and Zionists of America are sponsoring screenings and filling auditoriums around the country. Within the United States, the film has already been screened in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.
FS: Any reaction to your film from The Vatican or major Christian organizations?
GG: I haven’t heard from the Vatican, but I’ve received very positive and enthusiastic responses from Christians United for Israel, Yad B’yad/HaShomer of Texas, Davis Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East of California, VISION of New Hampshire, Christians and Jews United for Israel, Christ Episcopal Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Poughkeepsie, We Stand With Israel and Christian Action Ministry of Vermont.
FS: And what about pulpit rabbis, synagogue boards, Jewish day schools? Have they offered to place this film in their educational curriculum?
GG: There has been a rise in the number of pulpit rabbis, largely within “progressive” denomination, that challenge the belief of Jews as the “chosen people,” diminish the centrality of the Land of Israel to Jewish identity and promote the notion of “moral equivalency” when it comes to issues of Judeophobia. In other words, there is a strong tendency among progressive rabbinic leaders to diminish or rationalize the abuse of human rights and calls for annihilation of Jews and the destruction of Israel on the part of Israel’s enemies, and quickly point the finger at the nation-state of the Jewish people and her supporters.
Fortunately, there are clear-thinking, intelligent rabbis who do understand that, as Daniel Gordis articulates in his groundbreaking article “Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel,” (Commentary, June 2011), “to love all humanity equally is ultimately to love no one. To care about one’s enemies as much as one cares about oneself is to be no one.” And there are many synagogues that incorporate the centrality of the Land of Israel to Jewish identity in their sermons and religious school curriculum and fund programming to educate their members about the genocidal threats facing Israel and the Jewish people. And these are the rabbis that are bringing in the film.