by Gad Nahshon
"Never Again!" This is a slogan which Abe Foxman used in his new book Never Again?: The threat of the new anti-Semitism (Harper, San Francisco, 2003) with a forward by Elie Wiesel, but we noticed that Abe Foxman's Never Again? is with a question mark. "Never Again belongs to every Jew. It was born in Dachau. It belongs to every Jew and not just to Rabbi Kahana" Foxman said to us in his office, A.D.L. at 46th Street and the U.N. Plaza. Foxman is in the news, not just because he published this book but, because he represents Jews as to Passion, the Mel Gibson controversial film. "He is not an anti-Semite but..." said Abe Foxman who almost became a Catholic man in Poland during the Holocaust era. He was a hidden child. His parents survived and managed to save him as a Jew.
Foxman always believed that the church can do much more to combat anti-Semitism. Gibson might be anti-Semite or not, but his film helps spread anti-Jewish feelings or attitudes. They killed Jesus, they should be blamed for this in eternity. During the Holocaust in Slovakia, Rabbi Wiesmandel, a guardian angel of rescue, was told by a Slovakian Bishop that Jewish children should pay because they are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The case took place in 1942 when Wiesmandel, a genius of rescue, tried to save the life of these children.
Foxman believes that, in the global village, any Jew can be tomorrow, a victim of anti-Semitism. In his book he wrote that, in principle, even Jews in America are not safe from persecution or detention. When? It is not clear to predict. The Holocaust can be repeated. "Timing? See what happened in Germany in the 1930s. Jews were Germans but suddenly they were persecuted," Foxman explained to us, his prophecy, prediction.
What is the power of the new anti-Semitism? Foxman remarked: "The new media, the internet, cable TV, and so on! Can you imagine a situation in which Gebbles would have control of these electronic means of communication! He could have sold all of his hate."
Who uses these means? "The Arabs, the Muslims. They are the master of this new anti-Semitism. Especially Muslim countries, the weak backward ones, they can use Jews as scapegoats of their problems. They like the idea of search the Jew," said Foxman, who represents the Jewish establishment although you cannot find unity among the Jews in this country.
Of course, the film Passion spreads hate to the Jews in the global village. Gibson hit the Jews under their belt and he should pay for this anti-Jewish crusade. This film is an event and not just one more film. Gibson is a new type of Catholic and his father denies the Holocaust, and the Pope is too quiet. Foxman blames the Catholic Church in the spreading of anti-Semitism as to the crucifixion of Jesus: "The roots of anti-Semitism is in this murder of Jesus. The Germans massacred Jews and they visit their churches afterward. The Church must do more in order to find a solution to this hatred of Jews.
We need much more education in these Churches," said Foxman, who pointed out that the Pope, today, is not a bad Pope. He defines Jews as his brothers. He talks about the Holocaust: "These are good steps of change but this is not enough. We need more education. I believe in the power of education," remarked Foxman in our interview.
He believes that the Church can teach people to love and not to hate. But he knows that our world is indifferent to the fate of the Jews today. Foxman believes in Israel. He feels that the role of Israel in the American Jewish community today is in a process of increasing: "There are people who do not understand the situation and we have a process of assimilation inside the Jewish street. I agree that some are ignoring the education about Israel in their schools. This is a big dangerous loophole. We need Israel. Remember the April 15, 2002 demonstration in Washington, D.C.?
Those who stop teaching about Israel are making a great mistake," said Abe Foxman. "You can see the ignorance in the campuses. The students are ignorant because they were not taught about Israel in their Jewish schools. Some even became anti-Israeli students. They do not have the proper background!" explained Foxman who always believes in the unique power of education and more Jewish education in America.
Foxman is Mr. A.D.L. for many years. A.D.L. is an international defense Jewish organization. Mel Gibson's film is a sort of attack from the popular screen on the Jews. It is a Catholic film which is sponsored by Israel's "natural" allies, the Evangelists. It is a sort of Christian revival. Foxman believes in education. Can you educate the masses about Jews? This is an attack by a film or the field of performing arts. But Jewish establishment has leaders, Rabbis, administrators, managers, such as Abe Foxman, but they do not have experts for performing arts who can learn the issue in the "age of the screen" or the "age of media" and then form the right professional answer. A.D.L. also does not have a performing arts unit.
The one which can find a counter-film to the film. Do we fight terrorism by establishing a counter-terrorist group? Of course, Passion is not terrorism but it will contribute to increase anti-Jewish feelings inside our global village. And hate mongers have always produced terrorism against Jews or Israelis.
Gibson teaches us a lesson: screen, the power of the screen! So, Jewish establishment must develop an answer, a counter, a modern counter, a new machine which is not a "printed media" but a CD or video or film. Jewish performing arts is not just a new academic field. It is an answer to the growing electronic anti-Semitism or media anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli, pro-Nazi, propaganda.
A.D.L. must reform itself: The 22nd century is coming soon! The irony is that A.D.L. was established as an answer to anti-Jewish sense on the stage. A.D.L. fought first of all against Jewish hate in Shylock on the stage. Jews hated the staging of Shylock.
Today, we need strong fighting performing arts boxers who can knock down films such as Passion! This is a goal for A.D.L. as soon as possible.
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