Review by James Lindorf
No matter how you look at it, antisemitism in the US and Europe is on the rise and is bleeding into governments around the world in ways not seen since the 1930s. Antisemitism is coming in the forms of vandalism, social media abuse, assault, and even murder. Hate groups are recruiting members online at alarming numbers, and like a virus, antisemitism is mutating and evolving across cultures, borders, and ideologies, making it all but impossible to stop. Andrew Goldberg explores the dangers of antisemitism in his new film Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations. Goldberg traveled to four countries to speak with victims, witnesses, antisemites, and features interviews with Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and others. Viral will begin rolling out to theaters in New York on February 21st, with additional cities being added on the 28th and March 13th.
Goldberg examines how some in America’s far-right have incited acts of violence such as the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. The more people that believe they must hate or be fearful of a particular group increases the likelihood that the virus will spread to the more unstable members of society. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has launched a massive campaign against Holocaust survivor and billionaire George Soros reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. In perhaps the most surprising segment, Goldberg travels to England, where members of the traditionally anti-racist Labour party are conflating issues with Israel and members of the Jewish community. The final part takes place in France, and while it is not as scary as what is happening in the three previous countries with antisemitism infiltrating their government, it is the most heartbreaking. Goldberg talks with survivors and families of victims killed in the seemingly endless wave of violence against Jews by Islamic radicals.
Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations provides an abundance of information while producing plenty of fear and anger in its viewers. However, Goldberg let his viewers down by not inspiring hope by highlighting those that are working to combat the rise of antisemitism. It would have been a great way to end the film after its darkest segment. With a runtime of just 84 minutes, there was plenty of opportunity for this without the film overstaying its welcome. Goldberg’s ability to talk with both sides of the fight and the great interviews with people like Bill Clinton is the film’s greatest strength. While it may be a bit bleak, Viral is a powerful documentary that should be included in social studies, government, and history classes around the world. The best way to eradicate the hate is to shine a light on it and expose it for what it is before the next generation can fall into the same traps.