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By Phil Hall | December 21, 2008

Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell’s documentary focuses on a new wave of anti-Semitism that is polluting Europe. The filmmakers interview students, journalists, academicians, political activists and rabbis in Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary to detail a variety of incidents ranging from vile slurs to physical assaults and property vandalism against European Jews.

The film pinpoints the problem almost entirely on the rising number of immigrants from Islamic countries. The vast majority of this hatred, according to the film, is rooted in the immigrants’ view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – today’s anti-Semites do not differentiate between Israelis and European Jews – and which is fueled with inflammatory exhortations by radical imams that holiness is achieved by killing Jews. Non-Islamic fascists are less of a problem, according to those interviewed here.

The Mondells have approached this subject strictly from an empirical viewpoint, which often fails to put the situation into a proper perspective. There are stories of individual attacks against Jewish youths and property, but the film never provides statistics on the actual level of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the various European countries. The film also insists the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has inflamed the situation, but examples of this coverage are not presented and no one from the BBC is present to answer these charges.

There is also blame put upon atrocious web sites (including a sick production that reinvents Auschwitz as a dance club) and Arab films that repeat anti-Semitic blood libel fiction, but it is never clearly determined what true impact such offerings might have in shaping today’s anti-Semitism.

Nonetheless, “Monster Among Us” provides a chilling reminder that anti-Semitism is still alive and well in Europe. When a London schoolboy can get targeted for assault for wearing a yarmulke, or when Hungarian teachers complain about incorporating Holocaust studies into their curriculum, or when German synagogues require police officers and security cameras to protect their property, it is clear that something is terribly wrong with this picture. The film concludes with several European Jews openly toying with the notion of emigrating to Israel. Let’s hope that it just idle talk – evil is never conquered by ceding to its power.

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