Movie Review: 'Understanding Anti-Semitism: Why do some people dislike Jews?'
by L. Taylor
4 January 2005
[A review of Mark Farrell's "Understanding Anti-Semitism: Why do some people dislike Jews?" (2004)]
'There's fifty reasons.Even if you knew them all, there'd be another fifty you didn't know.' - Danny Balint, "The Believer"
The Palestinians will love it. But "Understanding Anti-Semitism: Why do some people dislike Jews?" cannot be classed a piece of powerful propaganda, one that casts a shadow as sharp and sinister as "The Eternal Jew" did for touch-paper German-Jewish relations or the kike's own benediction of the Noble American Black in Hollywood and just about everywhere else. It is none of these things, but primarily because it confronts, in a manner becoming of a tradition that is based on a series of footnotes to Socrates' enquiries into the truth, the things themselves, that which is the case - the facts. The Palestinians will love it because, as they well know, the agony and anguish of life's struggle are somewhat eased by the affirmation that the truth stands firm irrespective of our attempts to stage-manage it. Reality, we note, simply 'is.' The faith that trusts the fate of every school-child killed when out for sweets, murdered by high-powered rifle fire and organs duly harvested by 'the people of good conscience,' will eventually be recognised for what it is by ears sympathetic to the truth, this faith endures longer than the mere spin and propaganda that sustains the machines of material aesthetic half-truths and lies, in whose service journalists and politicians exist.
Yes, the Palestinians will love it; but sympathy for a pitiful people is exactly what inverted the Jewish question. It is precisely what induced the white man from a comfortable and cordial relationship during the late Enlightenment in which the best, that is to say the most European, and only the best that the shtetl had to offer could contribute to the advancement of Western civilisation, and from this into the present-day state-sponsored worship in which even the lowliest finger-pointing snipdick fresh from tikkuning half of Slavdom in revenge for having stones thrown at them by pig farmer shaygets on rent day is approved and, what is worse, encouraged.
Mark Farrell, the sole creator of this film, is not inspired by sympathy in his endeavours.He does not, like Spielberg, marshal effects and employ them as the handmaiden of an aesthetic vision stirred by pity and man's inhumanity to man. Farrell is foremost an inquisitive creator; watching "Understanding Anti-Semitism," one feels the urgency with which Farrell himself approached the question - why, truly why were the Jews so hated and why, really why are the Jews in certain illicit circles still so hated? Is it not true that the Jewish people are a charitable people?Is it not true that T.E. Lawrence 'of Arabia' referred to the 'miracle of world Jewry' (in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom), just as Ezra Pound, roughly his contemporary, denounced the 'dirty kikes'? Is it not true that the Jews are a profoundly moral people at the forefront of charitable causes, just as they support ethnic cleansing in Israel and the occupied territories? Is it not true that the Jew Victor Gollancz, amid early and lurid tales of the Final Solution, in 1945 organised aid for the starving German population, just as his kinfolk declared war on them in 1933, and currently defraud the German taxpayer? To correctly approach an undertaking, one must have formed the question appropriate to it. Unlike Discovery's egregious documentary "Race: the Power of an Illusion," in which no question is asked, montage upon montage of braying mobs and paralysed victims is not what concerns Farrell, irrespective of the conclusions he has drawn from his investigation. "Understanding" toys with the masculine idea - too courageous, I think, for our effeminate world that just wants to 'get along' at all costs - that truth is, perhaps, more important than a noble lie. Nothing less than courage agrees with good sense to face the consequences of the conditions of its existence. One is reminded of Jefferson: 'There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.'Just how far have America and the Western world come in betraying their inheritance?
The specific strengths of "Understanding Anti-Semitism," to which we shall come, are galvanised by the un-dogmatic approach Farrell takes to his material. It is a stonewall, where moral-emotional 'profundity' tossed out in good faith is a house of straw. It will take more effort to dismiss a level-headed work which asks fundamental questions than a work inspired by preconceptions and 'good intentions.' "The Believer" is such a powerful film precisely because the Jews who made it had the guts to question the inviolability of Jew-dogma when faced with extremely pointed home truths no less valid than the irrationality, even inanity, on which that faith itself is based.Courage for the truth sets men apart from cowards and cowardly cultures.This of course means that we WN have to accept the prospect that we are wrong about the Jewish question and, like a Burdi, be prepared to fly the coop. If we can't, then it's entirely unreasonable that we expect others to accept the conclusions of MacDonald or Linder.
To be sure, "Understanding" is the work of one man, a pet project - and it shows. But as a debut, and a film of considerable length (100 mins), it is a remarkable work.Farrell has a confident grasp of the technical aspect of documentary filmmaking and is unafraid to test himself - it is far too coherent a piece to be labelled the dabbling of a novice. The structure is circular, dovetailing the theme of anti-Semitic caricatures at its first and final chapters. Similarly well-thought out is the tremendous amount of research that constitutes the main thread of the work - indeed, Farrell might have made the filmic equivalent of the breakthrough MacDonald made with his sublime handling of the nature and role of Jews and the Jewish religion throughout history and contemporary events. Decried, of course, was MacDonald's flawlessly-researched work, so one cannot expect Big Jew to receive even so well-tempered and noble an enterprise as Farrell's with anything less than hostile condemnation.But the documentary's strengths - among them a very professional use of panning and zooming to highlight material evidence - ought at least to inspire confidence in the humble dignity of the culture of white peoples of the West, and place a crack in the 'multicultural' stone faces of the neokahnservatives' media-Mount Rushmore BJ has built to efface the proper history of Farrell's (and MacDonald's) nation.
As director, Farrell concentrates on ewige truths about eternal Jews and has the decency to acknowledge the essentially dialectical nature of the dispute between Jew and anti-Semite - neither is given precedence other than when facts ('the existence of a state of affairs,' quoth Wittgenstein) lead us to make conclusions, or in the inevitable case of Abe 'Dumper' Foxman, to make excuses. Indeed, "Understanding Anti-Semitism" is not a film that would make philosemites comfortable; the facts are too relentless, the 'coincidences' just too coincidental. Farrell's film, to reiterate, is not a Discovery channel hairpiece designed to cover up the proverbial baldness of the common jig or average 'secular humanist,' but the serious product of a sincere inquiry. However, just as surely as it esteems truths in and of themselves with respect to their relative anti-Semitism, so "Understanding" contains no call for action - Farrell has too much respect for the dignity of his project to ruin it with rhetoric; it is not an appetiser to a pogrom. In fact, Farrell's prudence trumps that infamous and candid expression of German impatience and revenge, "The Eternal Jew," and is most certainly a more effective document in today's cotton-wrapped political climate.
Indeed, what is more effective is bringing facts to the fore and allowing them to address the persistent claims that anti-Semitism makes. Not that by doing so Farrell gives credence to the demands of anti-Semites, as Foxman would have it; but that the concealment and taboo which enshroud the Jewish community in their relations with gentiles works in favour of a project that seeks to establish ground and 'clear the air,' in a manner of speaking. Anti-Semitic claims are never attractive, but neither is the world of pain and death. For instance, Sunday 2 January 2005, England's Independent on Sunday broadsheet reports that the Jew Lord Winston is complaining about supposed racism in four-year old children. What this really means, of course, is that white children have a preference for white faces, and children of various races tend to point to a black face when asked to pick out a troublemaker. As it is illegal to produce crime statistics by race in Britain, which falls under the 'Incitement to Racial Hatred' law - of which our courts say, 'Truth is not a defence' - so the question of an empirical explanation of this discovery, once the only school and method of Anglo-Saxon philosophy (and still prevalent in Anglo-American academia), is struck down from the first by the gavel of Big Jew, or if you are as yet unconvinced by anti-Jewish rhetoric, the 'Nanny State.''Feelings' and 'comfort,' as in the US, matter more than what Locke once called brute fact. Predictably, the scientists are calling for greater tolerance and more positive media role models for blacks.One must remember Nietzsche's observation in the Genealogy of Morals that the profoundest human hatreds cover themselves in the rhetoric of love and compassion. And, as here with the case of Lord Winston, 'behind every closed door a Jew,' goes the claim of the anti-Semites.A string of facts creates a state of affairs, and a series of associated states of affairs is not necessarily an anti-Semitic 'canard.' But the well-intentioned liberal would make gods out of niggers before they considered the merits of accountability, truth, and independence.
This is not to say that Farrell makes gods out of his subject; on the contrary, he makes the case unemotionally -- but never callously -- that the chosen people think of themselves as a collective god of sorts. It's the kind of unfashionable conjecture for which the ADL exists; but an important, and provocative statement the like of which the ground has been set for by Israel Shamir and Norman Finkelstein, whose work Farrell quotes in part. It is an impressive technique, using Jewish sources to substantiate controversial claims, a technique used by David Duke among others, but one on which alone the truth cannot rely. Therefore there is much appreciation in the variety of sources used in "Understanding Anti-Semitism." One can read The International Jew until right is wrong and left is right, but still reasoned arguments and rational thinking cannot convince the majority of mild-hearted folk that tolerance + Jews = tyranny, or that three thousand years of this coincidence is not happenstance. And Henry Ford was no paradigm of evil. No, what is required is what Farrell provides - a human voice and human images, a work in which the cold light of reason is transfigured into the warm principle of life, where severe conclusions and integrity can be reconciled once more with mainstream and wholesome livelihood.
Where Farrell goes wrong, and "Understanding Anti-Semitism" is not a flawless work, one can attribute it to the ambition and over-worked creative effort needed to produce such a work. Though well organised, brilliantly researched, and thoughtfully aware, it is imperfectly edited and lacks clean sound. Farrell's choice of music, though unimpeachably tasteful in the main, often detracts from the gravity of what is being conveyed; interviews, for instance, are serviced best by a respectful lack of song. His narration is often stuttered, where it should be done to perfection, and the crackling sound -- very bad in chapter seven's list of Jewish advocates -- is unprofessional. One can hardly fault the relative 'cheapness' of the look when considering in whose hands the monopoly of the image-industry stands, but snobs are liable to dismiss Farrell's efforts for this alone. No big deal, but "Understanding" ought to be taken as a serious breakthrough work, at least as important as the ADL's filmic efforts, and certainly can be, if the genuine mistakes and technical coarseness are pruned for a marketable revision.
This is a film made with current events in mind - of America's involvement in Iraq, of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, and of the curious mass immigration and economic policies of the Western governments.A possible conclusion to the ever-suppressed Jewish question is offered to us in the most unlikely of incidents. In chapter 16, we're treated to a Spoonerism of sorts, when Farrell misreads his script: 'Non-Jews cannot often obtain the same Jews as jobs [sic].' Whoops. But it is possible to perceive a point concealed within this mistake. In the light of certain coincidences and associations, maybe it's that we should outsource Jews instead of jobs. Is this, contra Farrell's plea, an incitement to racial hatred? Only if the truth is no defence.
'For too long now we have ceased to call things by their proper names.' -- Sallust, The Conspiracy of Catiline