Shortly before he arrives in Israel with his family to receive the Genesis Prize, renowned actor and producer Michael Douglas called Sunday for the world to deal with “the madness” of anti-Semitism, calling it “a disease that goes dormant, flaring up with the next political trigger.”
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Douglas recounted a recent anti-Semitic attack on his young son, whom, despite having a non-religious upbringing from his intermarried parents, “developed a deep connection to Judaism.” This connection, the star says, led him to “reconnect with the religion of my father”, Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas.
In the piece, Douglas defines three causes for the reemergence of anti-Semitism today. The first, he says, is the historic hared of Jews, ” always grows more virulent whenever and wherever the economy is bad.” At a time when people are struggling financially, Douglas writes, “some find Jews to be a convenient scapegoat rather than looking at the real source of their problems.”
The second cause cited by the actor is “an irrational and misplaced hatred of Israel.” He argues that acts of anti-Semitism such as the recent attacks that rocked Europe are explained away by blaming all Jews for policies of a nation.
” Does anyone really believe that the innocent victims in that kosher shop in Paris and at that bar mitzvah in Denmark had anything to do with Israeli-Palestinian policies or the building of settlements 2,000 miles away?” he asks.
Finally, Douglas writes, the rise in anti-Semitism can be attributed to a growing “extremist fringe” within Islam, aided by the widespread reach of the internet.
“We’re now seeing the amplified effects of that small, radicalized element. With the Internet, its virus of hatred can now speed from nation to nation, helping fuel Europe’s new epidemic of anti-Semitism,” he says.
Douglas ends by calling on world leaders, both political and religious, to address the issue, and hails, among others, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Pope Francis for their strong stance against anti-Semitism.
“So that is our challenge in 2015, and all of us must take it up,” Douglas writes. “Because if we confront anti-Semitism whenever we see it, if we combat it individually and as a society, and use whatever platform we have to denounce it, we can stop the spread of this madness.”