Unmasked | Judeophobia - The threat to civilization

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Gloria Z. Greenfield uses her impressive organizational talents to sound the alarm about global anti-Semitism
Fight Hatred

Gloria Z. Greenfield has had over 30 years of strategic planning, marketing, program management and publishing experience from her time in the corporate world to her current work dedicated to Jewish education, Jewish identity, and Israel engagement.

In addition to serving as president of Doc Emet Productions since November 2006, she served as Field Advocacy and Advancement Strategy Manager for the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education from June 2009 to February 2011, and is Director of Strategic Marketing and Planning at Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America since February 2011.

Greenfield came to filmmaking relatively late in life. She was active in the Feminist Movement until June 1983 when she decided to “go home.” She made a conscious decision to change her primary identity from “Jewish radical feminist” to “feminist Jew.”

Prior to working within the Jewish community, Greenfield served as Strategic Planner and Marketing Manager for Digital Equipment Corporation’s U.S. Hardware Product Services. She left this career to work in a field “that was meaningful to me.” She went back for a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies and began running adult education programs in the Jewish community and making short films.

Greenfield then made a longer film, The Case for Israel. As she made it, she became more aware of a resurgence of anti-Semitism throughout the world, and that led to her decision to make “Unmasked: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization.”

In describing the time when she was active with the feminist community: “It was clear to her that even though the radical feminist community claimed to have disengaged politically from the male Left, it did not purge itself of the Left’s virulent and historical anti-Semitism.”

“The anti-Semitic instances I encountered within the feminist movement are too numerous to list, but I can share a few examples. When I returned from a trip to Israel where I had been working with Israeli feminists, a well-known lesbian-feminist poet demanded a meeting with me, during which she told me that I had no right to visit or support Israel, which she considered a racist country.”

“The last straw occurred in 1983. Persephone Press, the feminist book publishing company I co-founded, signed a contract with Jan Clausen, a white lesbian-feminist author for a novel she was in the process of writing. The completed manuscript that we received months later turned out to be a novel about a stereotypical Jewish capitalist landlord who was destroying peoples’ lives by gentrifying Park Slope.”

“Within an hour of reviewing the contract, we notified this white, gentile author that her book contract was cancelled on the grounds of its anti-Semitic stereotyping. The next day we were beckoned to a meeting in New York to meet with several of our prominent women-of-color authors to discuss the cancellation of Clausen’s contract. I began the conversation with the question, “Persephone Press cancelled the contract for an anti-Semitic novel written by a white Christian woman. Why are we here?” Their collective response was “She is a friend of women of color, so if you hurt her, you hurt us.”

“In this very brief dialogue between Persephone Press and the leading Hispanic and Black lesbian-feminist writers, poets, and theoreticians, it became very clear that at worst, anti-Semitism was considered acceptable, and at best anti-Semitism was considered insignificant. I had devoted many years of my life to the radical feminist movement, and at this moment I realized that I no longer wanted to contribute my life’s energy to it, nor did I want to remain a part of it.”

Greenfield had co-founded Persephone Press in April 1976, a leading radical feminist book publishing company, which she ran until May 1983. In 1980, she was cited as a Ms. magazine “Woman to Watch” in the 80s.

“While I have not diminished my feminist consciousness, I feel much more integrated with the prioritization of my Jewish identity; I am a Jewish woman – a Jewish woman who is both feminist and Zionist.”

Greenfield received her B.A. in Communications, with a minor in Women's Studies, from the State University of New York at Oswego in 1974. During her undergraduate tenure, Gloria founded the Oswego Women's Center, Women for a New World, Alliance of Women Against Repressive Education at SUNY, We Are the Women Your Fathers Warned You Against, and the Red Rag Regime. In 1981 she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from SUNY/Oswego.

Her graduate work at Goddard-Cambridge Graduate Program in Social Change, 1974 – 1975, focused on History of Women in the U.S. In 1995, she received a Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College, where she was awarded the Sara Feinsilver Prize as the outstanding female graduating student.

She served as executive director of The David Project. The David Project educates prepares pro-Israel students for the rhetorical battles on the nation’s campuses. Curricula are also developed on Israel for over 100 Jewish high schools and middle schools. Charles Jacobs, who co-founded the David Project and served as its president until 2008, describes her as having done wondrous things. She broadened the organization’s mission to focus on Jewish leadership development, launched groundbreaking Israel advocacy programs for American students in Israel, and enhanced the professionalism of all aspects of the organizations’ operations.

Greenfield became Director of the Adult Learning Collaborative: A Program of Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Hebrew College in 2001. A key program in the Collaborative is the Jewish Women’s Studies initiative, a comprehensive Jewish women’s studies program for adult learners. Drawing on Jewish feminist scholars and theologians from Israel and North America, the initiative exemplifies the breadth and depth of contemporary Jewish feminist scholarship.

She launched dynamic initiatives and a wide range of formats and programs to reach diverse segments of the Jewish community, including the nationally recognized IKKARIM initiative, which explores core values (ikkarim) to strengthen family life. The program brings together caring parents, expert facilitators and core ideas. Energetic and memorable conversations lead to a greater understanding of the vital role as parents.

Under Greenfield’s direction, the Adult Learning Collaborative engaged more than 4,000 participants in its programs annually. In May 2005, the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Boston awarded Greenfield their Keter Torah Award for her outstanding contribution to adult Jewish education.

Greenfield with Michael Yohay produced the film “The Case for Israel: Democracy's Outpost” in 2009. The movie is a documentary that presents a vigorous case for Israel’s right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism, and to defend its borders from hostile enemies-in a highly accessible multimedia format. Portions of the movie can be seen by hitting here

While Israel repeatedly demonstrates its commitment to peace, anti-Israel activity continues to rise in the media, on campuses, in the churches and in the international community. Israel's detractors - some with international prominence - blame Israel for the conflict. They deny the fact that Israel has made painful concessions in working toward a two-state solution, which include the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza initiated by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and that Israel has expressed readiness to take additional painful measures.

They ignore the rise in Gaza of Hamas, which rejects peaceful coexistence. They turn a blind eye to the grave challenges inherent in the Palestinian Authority's unstable governance of the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas. They rarely acknowledge the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israeli children and other civilians, and they equate that terrorism with Israel's attempts to protect its citizens. For Israel's detractors, there is only one focus for fault: Israel.

Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz plays a central role in this documentary and argues forcefully that real peace in the Middle East can only occur when the Palestinians, Arabs and their allies value the creation of a Palestinian homeland more than they oppose the presence of a Jewish state. Through incisive conversations with key judicial, political and academic leaders, Dershowitz refutes deeply entrenched misperceptions about Israel's history, Jewish claims to a homeland, individual rights under Israel's democratic system of government, the security fence, and military conduct in the face of terrorist attacks.

He closes with a formidable warning that the greatest threat to Israel is also the greatest threat to international peace and security: Iran's aggressive nuclear ambitions, driven by a zealous anti-Zionist, anti-democratic mission that is championed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unchecked, a nuclear-armed Iran or its terrorist surrogate would imperil targets far beyond Tel Aviv. "The time has come for a proactive defense of Israel to be offered in the court of public opinion."

In Greenfield’s 2011 documentary film, “Unmasked: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization,” she posits that Jews are facing the possible uprooting of the very idea that the Jewish people should have a nation-state. The movie is a call to action and urgent reminder that anti-Semitism is a menace not only to Jews, but to the human condition itself. The trailer for the movie can be seen by hitting here.

In interviews for The Jewish Ledger and for the Jerusalem Post, she explains her reasons for making this film.

She says this film 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 anti-Semites 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.

“I decided to examine the resurgence of anti-Semitism from a global perspective,” she says, and to that end, she interviewed over 70 experts. She traveled from Israel to Europe to North America, covering this phenomenon from all angles, including Christian and Islamic polemics against Jews, the proliferation of anti-Israeli bias in academia and cultural institutions, misinformation campaigns and state-sanctioned denials of Israel’s right to exist. The result of the interviews, some of which had to be cut, is a serious and sometimes terrifying analysis of how anti-Semitism, often masked as anti-Zionism (hence the title) has permeated modern life and discourse worldwide.

“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, particularly Western Europe.”

“The United States is a piece of cake compared to what’s going on in Europe. ...In the US, it’s largely happening on campus, and it’s real... but in Europe it’s much more pervasive in all walks of life.... Being in Europe was transformational for my analysis.”

The line-up of interviewees in the final film is impressive. They include author and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Senator Joe Lieberman, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, author Robert Wistrich, Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, Wall Street Journal writer and former Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, British attorney Anthony Julius, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick and many others.

She chose to use the term “Judeophobia” instead of the term “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Semite,” which was created in 1879. Today, these terms are not adequate descriptors. They were based on a racialist distinction between “Semitic” and “Aryan/Indo-European.” “Judeophobia” is a more suitable term to convey the intellectualized and ideologized hatred of Jews that is encompassed in the anti-Jewish phenomenon flourishing in many parts of the world today.

Elie Wiesel sets the tone for the film and outlines its subject in a clip from a recent speech in which he says, “Since 1945, I was not so afraid as I am now. I am afraid because anti-Semitism, which I had thought belonged to the past, has somehow survived. I was convinced in ’45 that anti-Semitism had died with its Jewish victims at Auschwitz and Treblinka, but I see, no, the Jews perished, but anti-Semitism in some parts of the world is flourishing.”

Irwin Cotler of the Canadian Parliament offered an analysis of this resurgence that Greenfield finds illuminating: “He said, ‘What we’re witnessing is an ascribing to Israel of the two great evils of the 20th century, Apartheid and Nazism.’” “The world loves memorializing dead Jews, but Israel represents the vitality and life of the Jewish people,” she says. “So when Israel is demonized, Jews are demonized.”

And yet, in an era when human rights is considered by many to be the universal secular religion, there is silence about the resurgence of lethal anti-Semitism that, as Harvard professor Ruth Wisse expresses in the film, is being expressed in the Arab and Muslim countries, a generative force that we can see at work in the United Nations, which we can see working its way into Europe again, and which we can see coming home on North American campuses.

The actual danger is the delusion that “it’s not as bad as we think.” There were people – too many people – who said the same thing at other times in history while Jewish blood was flowing in the streets.

These people ignore the words of one of the most prominent Sunni theologians alive today, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the author of 50 books, who was hailed in Tahrir Square, instructing his followers to “kill the Jews wherever you find them,” and further instructs them to murder pregnant Jewish women so that there will be fewer IDF soldiers.

The film covers statements by the Iranian President Ahmadinejad saying that Israel must be wiped off the map, and reactions to his comments worldwide. On this issue, Greenfield cites a comment from the film by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, the director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism in Indiana, who says, “One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that we have to be literalists. When we hear somebody say, ‘Kill the Jews,’ we have to realize, they probably mean it.”

Israel is the only state in the world today and the Jewish people the only people in the world today that are the standing targets of public calls, state sanction calls, religious calls, terrorist calls for their destruction and for the killing of Jews, at the same time that Israel and the Jewish people are themselves accused of being genocidal and seeking to destroy humanity – when you have situations like this, anyone who says “it’s not as bad as we think,” in my humble opinion, is either a complete idiot or a dangerous person, or possibly both.

Greenfield finds it troubling that “not enough Jews understand what’s going on... Some Jews side with people who don’t believe Israel has a right to exist.”

While the picture she paints is alarming, Greenfield emphasizes that all is not lost: “I hope my film inspires all decent people to garner the strength to face reality and acknowledge what’s happening. We won’t have the strength and conviction to fight unless we believe our cause is just.”

We may never totally eradicate anti-Semitism, but at the barest minimum, it is imperative that anti-Semitism 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.

An interview with Gloria Greenfield, about the movie can be seen by hitting here.

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