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Antisemitism & Prejudice in Multimedia Today

2014
Distributed by Alden Films, Box 449, Clarksburg, NJ 08510; 732.462.3522
Produced by Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Director n/a
DVD , 119 min., color
Sr. High - General Adult
Antisemitism, Judaism


Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA

Recommended with reservations   
 
Date Entered: 6/20/2014

Apparently this is the unedited onsite capture of a conference session consisting of a panel of media experts held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Although the DVD disc bears a copyright date of 2014, statements by the speakers suggest that the event took place a decade earlier, in 2004. Thus, the content is somewhat dated, although the factual information presented by the speakers is still valid. At this writing (in June 2014), the title was not listed under the subject “Anti-Semitism” on the distributor’s website and the DVD offering was not listed on the Sassoon Center’s website.

The panel consists of five speakers. The first, Professor David Marc, sets the stage by showing how, historically, ethnic stereotypes such as the characters in minstrel shows have long been used as comic entertainment, but later served as a kind of shorthand for hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Next, the Sassoon Center’s Sara Grosvald demonstrates Internet-based hate communication in a series of anti-Semitic websites. In the best of the five presentations, Professor Michael Dahan provides an overview of how the Internet is used to promote the agenda of hate groups. The final two presentations, by the Spielberg Archives’ Hillel Tryster and Alan Rosenthal, who participated in documenting the Eichmann trial, describe and analyze the 1999 anti-Semitic film The Specialist (1999), which was made from the trial's footage.

A brief introduction giving the names of the speakers and their credentials precedes the raw footage of the conference session. For viewers with the stamina to watch the rest, the speakers establish beyond a doubt the fact that current technology makes the global promotion of anti-Semitism easy and inexpensive. It is more effective and far reaching than any earlier medium, including radio, television, and film. Viewers see a variety of hate websites—a tiny portion of what is available on the Internet. Each site contains dozens of links to more sites. As frightening as it is, Professor Dahan points out that the Internet is just as effective in opposing hate. Still more insidious is the documentary film The Specialist, made by an Israeli filmmaker, in which Adolph Eichmann is portrayed as the pitiable victim of an unfair trial conducted by a vicious Israeli judge.

Unfortunately, technical problems make this video troublesome to watch, which is too bad. If not for that, it might have served students well and done a great job of supporting studies of racial hatred, especially anti-Semitism. But, the camerawork is terrible, the screen blinks and flashes constantly during the first half hour, the panel moderator cannot be heard half the time because his microphone does not work, including in the initial screen, which begins abruptly in the middle of an unintelligible sentence. In addition, the swallowed words, accented English, and constant “Uhs” of the first two speakers spoil their presentations. Closed captioning might have helped, along with judicious editing, but both are absent. As it is, one must feel compelled to stick with it in order to obtain its valuable information.