Have you ever wondered what goes through a black man's mind when he reads about slavery, apartheid and oppression? How Muslim women in the United States react when they see images of their counterparts in Saudi Arabia or Iran being lashed, mutilated or stoned? What does a young free Jew feel when watching a film about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism or a documentary about the Third Reich or Islamist fascism?
Of course, responses are as varied as viewers, but it must be acknowledged that witnessing graphic depictions of one's own people suffering is just that one step closer to home and often the impact is greater.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to explore this in a collective setting when I attended the American premier of "Unmasked," a new movie on Judeophobia (anti-Semitism) directed and produced by Gloria Greenfield. Following the viewing, Bret Stephens, Deputy Opinion Page Editor of the Wall Street Journal fielded questions from the audience, enabling them to share their reactions.
The documentary itself, on historic and modern day anti-Semitism, featured commentary from 48 experts, spanning the full gamut of activists in this field. Comprehensive and thoughtful, it could certainly have some impact as compulsory high school viewing material. However, to the many initiated and educated Jews in the audience, it is unlikely that anything new was brought to light.
The viewers were left wanting, as is often the case at Jewish organizational or communal gatherings. The impressively articulated predicament remained bereft of a solution that bears equal weight, as was acknowledged by Gloria and expressed in no uncertain terms by a young lady who was first to commandeer the mic when the floor was opened. Almost the entire question and answer session that followed represented a strong thirst, almost a plea, for resolution.
It seems to be a growing trend, especially among Jewish youth, to demand answers to Jewish problems from a Jewish leadership that has often been content to explore in great detail the various challenges that Jews and Israel face, and that is where it ends.
Perhaps for the purposes of raising funds it pays to focus on concerns and dangers, however, Jewish venture philanthropists who are seeking to influence real change should not tolerate solicitations that dedicate any more than 30 percent of their pitch to the challenges that they are seeking to address as opposed to proposed plans of action.
If one finds oneself at a meeting of a board or committee of a Jewish organization, where the problem/solution ratio is off balance, one is most likely wasting ones time. Consider the likely ramifications if a board meeting of your company or place of work presented the same equilibrium -- somebody would need to be fired.
Interestingly, however, it is possible that this apparent lack of focus in itself is a symptom of a greater Jewish malady. Curing it could collaterally bring with it a radical change of direction that would work toward resolution on any number of anti-Semitism-centric challenges.
The remedy may come precisely with this shift from the default Jewish defensive and reactionary position straight into first gear, re-evaluating how we think about addressing challenges by focusing on ideas and solutions as opposed to problems.
In tackling anti-Semitism, the same exact principle applies. Considering what we are up against, what is necessary is this fundamental change of direction and renewed approach to confronting Jewish enemies. We need to be proactive, aggressive and constantly on the attack, pushing forward the Jewish narrative and Jewish positions, holding haters and their enablers accountable in an ongoing, relentless and unyielding fashion.
It was a point that could be highlighted by contrasting voices portrayed in the production. While Alan Dershowitz pontificated on the extent to which it is acceptable to criticize Israel, Arab mobs bellowed accusatory slogans simply labeling Jews as child killers.
The Jewish mindset that defines itself through challenges and victimhood is the same mindset that reacts to the incessant jackhammer of vile anti-Semitic propaganda by considering the extent to which it may or may not be justified. Is it not time that we greet fire with fire? It may be our only path to stand a fighting chance.