Chesler Chronicles

The Anti-Semitic Intelligentsia

As you read this, I will be away from my desk. While I am gone, I will be posting a mini-retrospective of some of my previously published, copy-righted work. The articles seem to hold up. In some cases, I will introduce the piece. In most instances, I will let the piece speak for itself.

This was my first piece for Frontpage Magazine and I gave it to them only after both the New York and LA Times turned it down. A group of Israeli feminists wanted to show a film. The Swedish filmmaker absolutely refused his film to be shown in Israel. Within 48 hours of posting my article, Lukas Moodysson, the filmmaker, changed his mind and allowed his brilliant anti-trafficking film, “Lilya-4-ever” to be shown on a one-time basis at an anti-trafficking conference in Israel. Moodysson knew my work in Swedish and he wrote to me, furious that I had challenged his reputation as “prejudiced.” But he changed his mind.

I was impressed by the results and sent it to all my feminist listserv groups. The left-feminist groups refused to read the article or to hear about its results because, many said, I had dared to publish it in a “right wing rag.” Their blind intolerance motivated me to publish in Frontpage on a regular basis.

The Anti-Semitic Intelligentsia–August 21, 2003

The hit Swedish film, “Lilya 4-ever,” is a relentless and lyrical work about female sexual slavery. Professor Donna Hughes, who recently testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about global trafficking, compared the film to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Lukas Moodysson’s film depicts the abandonment and betrayal of Lilya, a teenage Russian girl, by her mother and maternal aunt, leaving her vulnerable to a sweet-talking pimp who traffics her into Hell and death in Sweden. The film has been shown in many countries where trafficking, brothels, and other human rights abuses flourish: Sweden, Russia, England, Turkey, Finland, France, and the United States. Moodysson is not a woman, nor has he been prostituted. Nevertheless, as an artist, he is both able to empathize with great suffering and to distinguish the victim from the victimizer.

Moodysson’s genius fails him utterly when it comes to the Jews and the Jewish state. He refused to allow the film to be shown in Israel. According to Leah Grumpeter and Nissan Ben Ami of The Israeli Awareness Center, Moodysson “personally bought back the distribution rights for Israel” and would not allow its showing at their upcoming conference about such trafficking in Israel. For a decade, Grumpeter and Ben Ami have been trying to rescue the Lilyas in Israel (there are 3,000 a year, mainly from Eastern Europe) who sexually service Palestinian and Israeli Jews, Muslims, Christians and tourists. Grumpeter and Ben Ami are now expanding their fight on behalf of the victims of trafficking by opposing legislation that would legalize and normalize such sexual exploitation.

Moodysson’s personal boycott is outrageous but hardly unique. European and North American intellectuals and artists have been systematically excluding and condemning their individual Israeli counterparts for the so-called crimes of Israel–the Jew among nation-states.

In the last two years, European and North American academics have called for boycotts and de-funding of Israeli academics. They have disinvited Israeli scholars, fired Israeli academics, rejected university applications from Israeli students, refused to stage exhibits by Israeli artists or sell textbooks to Israeli universities, written inflammatory and defamatory editorials in prestigious journals condemning Israel for massacres that never occurred, refused to sell Israeli scientists materials that would aid in Israeli research to help Palestinian children, and refused to sell gas kits to Israel which would enable doctors to quickly identify gas and counteract a gas attack against civilians.

Should individual Americans and Israelis boycott individual Europeans for Europe’s murder of eleven million people, including six million Jews, in the Nazi era? Or for its past colonial aggression or its contemporary policies? In a sense, this singling out of individual intellectuals for punishment is morally similar to what genocidal suicide bombers do when they single out Israeli or American civilians for death.

Such obsessive anti-Zionist stands by intellectuals are examples of Jew-hating. Why? Because Western intellectuals have not even-handedly condemned academics from China (the Occupier of Tibet), North Korea (which possesses weapons of mass destruction), Rwanda (with its grievous record of genocide), or Holland (whose peacekeeping soldiers in Bosnia allowed 7,000 Muslims to be massacred in Srebrenica), or Jordan (who in one month, September of 1970, killed more Palestinians than Israel has killed in 55 years in a series of self-defensive wars).

More important, Western intellectuals have not condemned their counterparts from Arab and Islamic countries who have, for millennia, persecuted Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Christians; repressed, jailed, tortured, and murdered Muslim intellectuals; and utterly subordinated women within a system of gender apartheid. If that were not enough, for the last 50 years, Arab and Muslim nations have also systematically funded and carried out massacres and suicide-bombings of Israeli, American, and Western civilians.

Israel has endured genocidally murderous attacks almost every month, sometimes every week, for the last three years and is engaged in a battle for its very survival. Nevertheless, both Islamic propagandists and Western intellectuals present Israeli self-defensive strategies as “worse than the Nazis,” as “genocidal” and “racist.” Orwell himself might weep were he to hear the non-stop Big Lies, the utter distortions and reversals of reality by linguistic and photographic means. As Camus wrote: “To misname things is to add to the misery of the world.” Western intellectuals are indeed adding to the world’s misery.

Grumpeter and Ben Nissan told me that Moodysson’s “refusal to allow his movie to be screened in Israel only prevents raising awareness among the Israeli population (Jews and Arabs) and denies hope to the trafficked women that his movie was supposed to help.” Clearly, Moodysson is willing to sacrifice the trafficked women in Israel in order to cut a politically correct figure among the anti-Semitic intelligentsia.

Our Israeli heroes, Grumpeter and Ben Ami, persisted. They found me and they also found a Swedish journalist, Louise Eek, who just exposed Moodysson in the pages of a leading Swedish newspaper (Aftonbladet.) Moodysson quickly backed down–not necessarily because he understands the difference between innocent Israeli civilians and the genocidal suicide bombers who have been murdering them–but because, in Grumpeter and Ben Ami’s words “he is very careful of his reputation.” It is their understanding that Moodysson still wants it to be announced at the Israeli showing that he opposes Israeli policies. And, the film can only be shown once, and then only through the Swedish Embassy. Israelis are being forced to jump through a hundred hoops.

The moral: It is important to expose Jew-hatred and to call it by its right name. Some people might not change their minds but they might change their actions if they know they are being watched, especially if Jew-hatred becomes less than fashionable once again.

Grudgingly, Moodysson is now allowing Grumpeter and Ben Ami to work towards justice on earth. His film is great; it speaks for all, to all. I hope it continues to do its great work for children in every nation on earth — including exploited Israelis. –August 21, 2003