Antisemitism in Context
Reporting that leads to a greater understanding of antisemitism
Ira Forman, expert on contemporary antisemitism and curator of Moment‘s Antisemitism Monitor, delves into both clear and gray areas of speech and behavior.
Poland’s Justice Minister Calls New Film on Europe’s Refugee Crisis “Anti-Polish”
Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s justice minister, is currently at odds with filmmaker Agnieszka Holland. Her latest film, The Green Border, which received high praise at the Venice Film Festival in early September, highlights the story of Afghan and Syrian refugees who find themselves stopped at the Poland-Belarus border due to political conflicts. The movie intends to explore the refugee crisis that much of Europe has been facing for decades, and critics are saying that it succeeds.
Ziobro says otherwise. Criticizing the film for painting Poland’s border control officers in a negative light, the justice minister compared Holland’s film to Nazi propaganda in a post on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter): “The Soviets and Nazis used propaganda films to destroy the image of Poland and the Poles. Nowadays, the authors have changed, but the methods have remained the same.” Some X users turned the story back onto Ziobro, saying that he is the one slandering Poles and Polish imagery. However, others expressed agreement with Ziobro and equated Holland with Vladimir Putin. Ziobro’s comments regarding Holland’s film are especially controversial as Holland is the granddaughter of Holocaust victims.
The Polish government has been known to promote a revisionist history of its participation in the Holocaust. In 2018, Poland’s Act on the Institute of National Remembrance was amended to include Article 55a, which makes it illegal to accuse Poland of any participation in the Holocaust or in Nazi activities. Ziobro’s tweets accused Holland of being “anti-Polish” as well as “a propagandist of the criminal Stalinist system.”
United Kingdom, September 14, 2023
Malakai Wheeler, a teenager in Swindon, Wiltshire (71 miles west of London), has been charged with possessing a number of antisemitic and dangerous documents, including “the Terrorist Handbook” and the “Anarchists’ Handbook,” as well as disseminating information online on how to create weapons and explosives, reports the BBC. In addition to the documents Wheeler had in his room, police have discovered a plethora of online material that Wheeler has shared in chat rooms relating to terrorism, homemade weapons and Nazism. Collecting and disseminating such information are crimes in the United Kingdom—violations of the Terrorism Acts of 2000 and 2006.
New Zealand, September 17, 2023
A recent article published on Stuff, a news website in New Zealand, revealed a student’s battle with antisemitic bullying in her New Zealand school. Deborah Hart of The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand states that there has been an increase in situations like these throughout the country. The Holocaust Centre and the New Zealand Jewish Council have both been working to increase Holocaust education and critical thinking skills in New Zealand to fight the increase in antisemitic incidents. Kate Hannah, the director of The Disinformation Project, which tracks the dissemination of disinformation throughout New Zealand, states that one explanation for the disturbing rise in antisemitism is the simultaneous surge in disinformation that is easily found on the internet and social media.Historically, New Zealand has not dealt with a great deal of antisemitism, making these incidents even more concerning.
United States, September 18, 2023
In an apparent effort to disrupt spiritual celebrations of the Jewish High Holy Days, antisemitic antagonists called in at least 10 bomb threats to synagogues around the country leading up to and during the two days of Rosh Hashanah. The incidents primarily took place in California, New Jersey and New York. While none of the threats were credible, and no damage was done to the synagogues or their congregants, many synagogues were still evacuated or put in lockdown until the threats were determined to be false. Many of the threats were aimed at synagogues that host livestreams of their services. This is so that “perpetrators can watch reactions to the threats in real time,” says Oren Segal, the vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Extremism. While there was an uptick in these “swatting” incidents around Rosh Hashanah, this trend has been challenging synagogues around the country for months, says the ADL. Police encourage all bomb threats to be taken seriously, despite the trend of calling in false threats.
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