A Franco-German film that no one in Europe is legally allowed to see has become the source of a major scandal, and its creators the targets of unprecedented smear and hate campaigns from Germany's public broadcasters.
At the center of the scandal is one of Europe's biggest media companies, the Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR) - with 4,500 employees and an annual budget of 1.4 billion euros - and the Franco-German culture channel, ARTE.
The television documentary, "Chosen and Excluded – the Hate for Jews in Europe", will be shown in the United States for one night only, on August 9. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles announced that it would screen the film after the German and French networks tried "to bury the documentary, before it could contaminate the viewing public with the truth," according to the Center's Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, in an interview with Gatestone Institute. "It is a film that needs to be viewed by anyone concerned about anti-Semitism and anyone concerned about the democratic future of Europe. It is a truth-telling, and 'PC'-busting documentary", he said.
The truth is that in today's Europe, it is becoming more and more difficult to tell the truth.
ARTE had commissioned the film with the support of the WDR, but is now seeking to hide it. The film is not about anti-Semitism among neo-Nazis, but about its acceptance by the mainstream mass media, politicians, left wingers, Muslim "Palestine" activists, rappers and church organizations. Initially, it was said that the film was "a provocation", that it "fans the flames", and that "because of the terror situation in France, it cannot be broadcast."
Later, "technical journalistic shortcomings" were cited as the reason why the film could not be released from the hazardous materials closet.
ARTE, as part of its programming, broadcasts films such as "The Little Stone Thrower of Silwan" - a report sympathizing with sweet Arab children in Jerusalem who just want to make their neighborhood "Jew-free".
Would the station ever show a serious film about anti-Semitism?, Gatestone asked the journalist Jean Patrick Grumberg, of the French-language news site Dreuz. Grumberg replied:
"France is also a country were communist mayors celebrate Palestinian Jew-killers as honorary citizens. Arte would never denounce a communist. They would instead introduce the Terrorists as "Freedom fighters"... the heads of Arte France would never - ever - be hired if they are suspected of being pro-Israelis or conservatives. As a matter of fact, being a radical is welcome."
According to Grumberg, "nearly 100% of the French media are anti-israel." Anyone who is pro-Israel must conceal it, or deal with the threat of repercussions.
"And within this hard to believe environment, France Television and Arte are the worst among the 'islamo-lefties'.
"To start with, France's Arte heads of program refused to produce a documentary about anti-semitism in Europe because they knew too well that it would underline the Muslim anti-semitism issue, and Muslim anti-semitism is taboo in France, most notably among the left and in the media.
"One has to keep in mind that France is the Western country with the largest number of Jews assassinated during the 21st century (14 Jewish people killed because they were Jewish). All of them were killed by Muslims, not by the Far right. Arte would never want you to know that."
ARTE Germany, however, was prepared to implement the project. But, says Grumberg, ARTE then learned that the filmmakers, Joachim Schroeder and Sophie Hafner, had taken this "further than merely denouncing Jew hatred among European Muslims."
"They [the filmmakers] dug deep into the European Union funded anti-israeli NGO's incitement, and exposed the false media narrative by fact checking whether the charges against Israel had a real basis in the West bank and in Israel. And there weren't any. When they exposed the lies, they mainly exposed Arte's false narrative."
The responsible WDR editor, who had accepted the film as being in accordance with the contract, faced such an amount of hostility, harassment and mobbing by her colleagues that she chose"early retirement". It was only in the face of great opposition that the film was publicly screened twice - and then only after enormous pressure. Historians and journalists who saw the film published newspaper articles calling for its release. The Central Council of Jews in Germany also backed that call. The premiere of the film, however, on June 13, was actually illegal. Germany's largest and most popular tabloid, BILD, streamed the original version on its website for 24 hours, without the permission of WDR. (The film was posted by someone on YouTube, before being blocked.) Subsequently, the debate on censorship became so heated that the WDR felt it had to broadcast the film.
The way WDR broadcast it, however, was unique: at the beginning of the film and in brief intervals throughout, warning signs were inserted again and again, indirectly urging viewers not to believe what they saw in the film. They were to read the "ostensibly necessary additions and explanations" on the WDR website - a "fact check" consisting of 30 texts. In one example, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed, falsely, in a speech to the European Parliament:
It was just a week ago that Israeli rabbis issued a clear statement: They demanded that their government poison the water in order to kill Palestinians.
From this, according to WDR, one should not "deduce the assertion" that "Abbas's speech was part of a tradition that since the Middle Ages has alleged that Jews were poisoning the wells," since: "after all, Abbas is not talking about 'wells' here."
The film also accurately shows that several church organizations support trying to destroy Israel through economic means, by boycotting people and products. The WDR claims that this assertion is wrong, and as evidence, cites statements put out by these organizations, rejecting any association with a boycott movement. However, it is WDR's claim that is the lie. The organization NGO Monitor, which calls for transparency in the Israeli NGO sector, substantiated the lie in a comprehensive response to the "Fact Check":
"The NGO farce is finally being unmasked," according to Olga Deutsch, director of the Europe desk at NGO Monitor in a telephone interview.
Civil society is necessary and crucial, but the NGOs are granted such huge sums of money and so much power to work in one of the most fragile and conflict-ridden regions of the world, with absolutely no requirement for transparency and accountability. Among other things, the film also demonstrates this.
There had already been a similar debate in Germany in early 2015, when Tuvia Tenenbom's book, Catch the Jew, was published in German. In this report on his trip to Israel, the author also described the anti-Semitism of many European-funded NGOs in Israel, and exposes, for instance, the chief investigator of the organization B'Tselem, which is financed by the European Union, among others, as a holocaust-denier. In an interview with Gatestone, Tenenbom said:
The European 'elites' are far more antisemitic than the average Muslim. What the Europeans are doing in Israel is nothing but the continuation of the Nazi theology of the past - using the NGOs to finish the job that their grandparents did not get to complete in World War II.
Towards the end of the film, several Jews are interviewed in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles. A boy of about 13 years old says: "I dream of making aliyah [moving to Israel] and fighting in the Israeli army." In an interview with Gatestone, one of the film's authors, Joachim Schroeder, recounts:
We asked the boy if he had any experience with the invading mob of hooligans, and how he feels in everyday life here in Sarcelles. If I had to deal with this day in and day out, I would also say: I want to get out of here.
The original soundtrack from the film documents an attack in Sarcelles, complete with images of demolished cars and store windows, by "pro-Palestinian activists" in July 2014:
Until the summer of 2014, Sarcelles was considered to be a model of functioning multiculturalism. Jews, Christians and Muslims living side by side and together in city districts with 60,000 inhabitants. Then came Sunday, July 20, 2014. "Palestine: Come armed with mortars, fire extinguishers and clubs, come in large numbers, we're going to gang up on the Jewish district of Sarcelles," is what it says in one of many exhortations. More than 3,000 demonstrators show up. Molotov cocktails fly against the synagogue. Policemen prevent the storming of the area. The crowd screams: "Death to the Jews" and "Hitler was right". The violent mob plunders a pharmacy run by Jews and a kosher supermarket. Both are set on fire. The police talk about a "Parisian Intifada".
For Jewish adolescents who had experienced "anti-Semitism from their very birth", it was a form of "redemption to go to Israel", says François Pupponi, the socialist mayor of Sarcelles in an interview in the film:
French Jews feel that they have no future in France, that they have to leave their country to be able to live safely and in peace. But to tell them that they are wrong is also not the right thing to do. I tell them that they are right. But then I appeal to them to stay. Because if they leave, France is dead. Why? Because if a Jew cannot live by his faith here, then this secular republic, with our world-famous idea of religious freedom, no longer exists.
The scandal surrounding the film shows how things really are in terms of the culture and freedom of expression in Europe. "The WDR ranks among those whom we criticize in this film," says Schroeder. "Up to that point, one could only speculate about this [anti-Semitism], but the way they dealt with this broadcast made it very clear."
Anti-Semitism in Europe does not come from fringe groups. It is primarily left-wing liberals - "intellectuals" - who fuel the hatred. At the end of the film, retired Parisian police commissioner Sammy Ghozlan, a Jew who fled to France from Algeria, says:
I am convinced that the Arabs in France would never have turned to violence against the Jews if they had not been convinced by others that it was their duty to demonstrate their solidarity with their coreligionists in Palestine. Otherwise, they would never have done that. They were persuaded that this was necessary. And since some of those who hold power, mayors or ministers, took the liberty of doing such a thing, for them, it justified the attacks so they supported them.
"That is one of the key messages of our film," Joachim Schroeder said to Gatestone. "Who was it that encouraged them to do this? It was not just their brothers and sisters; it was the French and German mainstream."