Published On: Sun, Mar 15th, 2015

Michael Douglas Speaks Out on Anti-Semitism

“While some Jews believe that not having a Jewish mother makes me not Jewish, I have learned the hard way that those who hate do not make such fine distinctions.”

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas contributed an Op-Ed piece about anti-Semitism to the Los Angeles Times this weekend. The actor’s editorial was published ahead of his upcoming trip to Israel to accept this year’s Genesis Prize.

Douglas wrote about his personal experience with anti-Semitism in Europe last summer. His son was harassed by a man at their hotel’s swimming pool simply because he was wearing a Star of David around his neck.

The two time Oscar winning actor and producer’s father Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, is Jewish. But his mother, Diana, is not. And Michael Douglas’ youngest children’s mother, Oscar winning actress Catherine Zeta Jones, is not Jewish either.

But Douglas sent his kids to Hebrew school and gave his son a bar-mitzvah in Israel.

He wrote, “Several years ago Dylan, through his friends, developed a deep connection to Judaism, and when he started going to Hebrew school and studying for his bar mitzvah, I began to reconnect with the religion of my father.”

“While some Jews believe that not having a Jewish mother makes me not Jewish, I have learned the hard way that those who hate do not make such fine distinctions.”

“Dylan’s experience reminded me of my first encounter with anti-Semitism, in high school. A friend saw someone Jewish walk by, and with no provocation he confidently told me: ‘Michael, all Jews cheat in business. Everyone knows that.’”

Douglas attributes three reasons for the recent rise of anti-Semitic violence in Europe. The first he said is that anti-Semitism is ancient and has never gone away.

The second is due to an irrational hatred of Israel. “Far too many people see Israel as an apartheid state and blame the people of an entire religion for what, in truth, are internal national-policy decisions. 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?”

But the biggest cause, the Actor feels, is Europe’s ever growing Muslim population.

Douglas called on world leaders to do more to speak out and fight against anti-Semitism.

He concluded, “So that is our challenge in 2015, and all of us must take it up. 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.

“My son is strong. He is fortunate to live in a country where anti-Semitism is rare. But now he too has learned of the dangers that he as a Jew must face. It’s a lesson that I wish I didn’t have to teach him, a lesson I hope he will never have to teach his children.”

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