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Review: Defamation

Documentary takes on anti-Semitism
By GERALD PEARY  |  December 2, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


Yoav Shamir, a young Israeli documentarian, goes off to America and Eastern Europe with a camera and a question: is anti-Semitism an important concern today for Jews, or are those anxious about it being unduly paranoid? In New York, he films Abraham Foxman, the crusty, outspoken director of the Anti-Defamation League, who sees anti-Semitism around every corner, some of it coming from self-hating Jews unhappy with the Israeli government’s policies.

At the other end of the spectrum is Norman Finkelstein, the cantankerous Jewish author of The Holocaust Industry, who proclaims that being fervently anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian doesn’t make one anti-Semitic. Shamir is smart enough to move his film beyond shrill polemics and into more observational territory: Israeli high-school kids visiting Poland to see the death camps, African-Americans on a street corner in Brooklyn discussing their experiences with Jews.

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