Behind ‘Unmasked,’ there is hope

Jerusalem Post    December 31, 2011
By Hannah Brown

Director Greenfield discusses with ‘Post’ latest documentary examining global political assault against Jews.

(Courtesy of Gloria Greenfield)

Gloria Z. Greenfield, the director of the film Unmasked: Judeophobia, a new  documentary that was just shown in the recently concluded Jerusalem Jewish Film  Festival at the Jerusalem Cinematheque – and will be screened again at the  Jerusalem Cinematheque on February 16 – has no trouble finding a table even at  the most crowded café at Mamilla Mall during holiday week.
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That’s no  surprise: Documentary filmmakers have to be resourceful, especially ones who  choose such controversial and difficult subjects as Greenfield. But as we sit  down to talk, she uses her resourcefulness in another way, to try to illuminate  a subject many Israelis find difficult to deal with for all kinds of  reasons.
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“I decided to examine the resurgence of anti-Semitism from a  global perspective,” she says, and to that end, she interviewed over 70 experts.  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.
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The  line-up of interviewees in the final film is impressive. They include author and  lawyer Alan Dershowitz, MK 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, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick and many others.
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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.”
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Asked about the Arab Spring and what  that could hold, Greenfield is guarded.

.“Let’s see what happens,” she  says, but worries about recent arrests and beatings in Egypt of women  demonstrators, as well as violence against women in other Arab countries. “Anti-Semitism often goes in hand-in-hand with other human rights abuses,” she  says.

Greenfield came to filmmaking relatively late in life. She left a  successful career in high-tech in the Boston area 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. She 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.

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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.”

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