Monday, March 16, 2015

Michael Douglas: Finding Judaism and Antisemitism

This is a very forthcoming, reflective essay from actor Michael Douglas. 

I always find it interesting when people describe their experiences with real antisemitism.

Not third-party experiences or hearsay. The real deal.

For myself, I felt it in my bones when I was in Poland with my father-and probably not where you would think. Of course it's in the air in the Auschwitz grounds, but that's not where I felt it most acutely.

It happened in the little municipal records office of my grandmother's town (shtetl), when our taxi driver and translator was explaining to the clerk that we (my father and I) were looking to find the remains of the Jewish cemetery and if they could tell me where my great-grandfather's synagogue/house had been.

The clerk looked at me-if looks could kill-and spat out in Polish that if "she" wanted information "she" would have to go to Łomża. I felt my whole body go ice cold, because what she was really saying, and I could feel it was that Jew can go to hell. 

Another clerk, and our taxi driver were utterly aghast. 

In that instant I remember thinking to myself "that woman would have turned me over to the Nazis", and the second clerk would have hid me. 

That's the most acute antisemitism I have faced directly. I suppose that's lucky. 

Anyway, Douglas' essay is a worthwhile read.