Anti-Semitism still present, director says

By By Melissa Oveson

By Melissa Oveson

Although acts of violence against the Jewish community, such as the Holocaust, are well known historical events, anti-Semitism still occurs on a daily basis, according to several leaders in the Jewish community.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, brought its campus outreach program to a small group of students in the form of a film and discussion about the ever-present problems of anti-Semitism in Europe.

“This is an opportunity that an institution doesn’t see very often,” Laurence Loeb, an associate professor at the Anthropology Department, said on Jan. 29 as he introduced the film “Ever Again.” The film highlights the numerous anti-Semitic acts throughout France and London that took place in 2005. These acts included video about people laughing about Jewish deaths during the Holocaust, terrorist violence and verbal and physical abuse suffered by members of the Jewish community.

“We tend to think of anti-Semitism as historic, but it is still very present,” said Erik Ludwig, executive director of the United Jewish Federation of Utah, a Salt Lake City-based organization that provides humanitarian efforts to Jewish community members.

Celia Larson, a U graduate who now teaches Middle Eastern studies at the Da Vinci Academy of Science and Arts, a public high school in Ogden, gave her own account of the hatred in society. She talked about several Jewish students in her class who often criticize Muslims as well. Larson expressed the need for such materials as “Ever Again” for a high school audience. She said young, impressionable students should be fully educated about ongoing problems worldwide.

Rabbi Aron Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said they chose the movie because it didn’t “sugarcoat hate.” The images in the film detailed anti-Semantic acts including Jewish graves covered in red graffiti of Nazi symbols, the injuries resulting from suicide bombers and images of the Holocaust. Other scenes also detailed various ceremonies in which Muslims celebrated the attacks of Sept. 11, calling the acts sweet revenge and plane hijackers “the magnificent 19.”

In the discussion after the film, students and panelists also discussed solutions to the acts of hatred in society.

“Find out what’s going on beyond the walls of campus to become more savvy,” Hier said. “That’s the first step.”

He also encouraged students to use the film as a wake-up call rather than a source for solutions.

Utah Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, also attended to show his support and express his support of the group’s efforts to raise awareness of anti-Semitism. Shurtleff is involved in a program for high school students in Utah that teaches them to become education ambassadors on anti-Semitism. The program, The America-Israel Friendship League, follows a dozen 11th-graders of both Jewish and Islamic faith on a journey to Washington, D.C., and then to Israel in an effort to establish more ties between the two nations.

“People are forgetting,” Shurtleff said. “We need to care by becoming more educated on the issue. If we don’t get involved it could happen again.”

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