Islam, Women and AntiSemitism: Journey of a Muslim Refusenik 2011
Distributed by Alden Films, Box 449, Clarksburg, NJ 08510; 732.462.3522
Produced by The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of AntiSemitism [at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem]
DVD, color, 88 min.
Sr. High - General Adult
Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, Antisemitism
Date Entered: 05/24/2012Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA
Why does it take years for important ideas to capture our attention? This program—apparently made solely as the live record of a lecture sponsored by The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of AntiSemitism of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem—most likely was originally taped live in 2005 and put on DVD in 2008, though these are guesses. It arrived in this reviewer’s mailbox in May, 2012, which means that academic video librarians had no opportunity to learn of its existence until this review was posted on the EMRO website in June, 2012, seven years after the program was presented in Jerusalem.
Alden Films brings Jewish content to potential buyers, but complicating things is the fact that it is not listed on the distributor’s website and cannot be located there whether one searches by title or subject. Perhaps, the reason is that if you google the title, a YouTube clip of the entire 95-minute lecture pops up that can be viewed without paying a cent. Academic librarians being a thrifty lot, it is likely they will download the clip and forget about contacting Alden Films.
No matter how it is acquired, this program is an extremely valuable teaching tool. In it, Ugandan-born, Canadian-raised activist and Muslim reformer Irshad Manji speaks about her book, The Trouble with Islam, expounding revolutionary ideas about Islam that she first explored in it, namely, that the Quran and early Islamic practice allowed followers to question its tenets and encouraged the accomplishments of women and the pursuit of knowledge as well as mixing peacefully with Jews. After the book’s publication, she discovered that young Muslims from all over the world—but especially in the Western democracies where they can speak out without fear of government reprisals—long to question their imams, throw off the burden of antiSemitism, and pursue their dreams of freedom and peace in pluralistic societies.
Technically, the program is strictly no-frills and extremely amateurish. The camera often fails to follow Ms. Manji as she moves back and forth in front of the audience. Camera movements are jerky. Occasionally, presumably for variation, viewers see some of the people in the audience, but in a graceless fashion. The only good footage of audience members comes after the lecture when the camera focuses on individuals asking questions, which Ms. Manji answers with the same verve she displays throughout her presentation.
No one will view this video (or the online clip) for its technical quality, but everyone interested in resolving the issues surrounding Islam and antiSemitism should see it and listen to it for its message, which is more important than ever in 2012.