I first caught wind of the fact, that there might be something politically incorrect in this film, from a danish magazine. Apparently some people wondered, why the danish public broadcaster after having partly financed the film, refused to show it.
Intent on shaking up the ultimate 'sacred cow' for Jews, Israeli director Yoav Shamir embarks on a provocative - and at times irreverent - quest to answer the question, "What is anti-Semitism today?" Does it remain a dangerous and immediate threat? Or is it a scare tactic used by right-wing Zionists to discredit their critics? Speaking with an array of people from across the political spectrum (including the head of the Anti-Defamation League and its fiercest critic, author Norman Finkelstein) and traveling to places like Auschwitz (alongside Israeli school kids) and Brooklyn (to explore reports of violence against Jews), Shamir discovers the realities of anti-Semitism today. His findings are shocking, enlightening and - surprisingly - often wryly funny
Adding to the intrigue was the fact that the danish chief editor responsible for the financing, used to be president of the Danish Zionist Association before turning to public broadcasting.
As below statement shows, the ADL was also not happy about the film
ADL Statement on "Defamation," a Documentary Film by Yoav Shamir
Two years ago Yoav Shamir approached the Anti-Defamation League for assistance on a documentary he was making on the subject of anti-Semitism. We provided him wide access to film ADL in action, in our offices, at our annual national meeting, on leadership missions in Italy, Ukraine and Poland, and in Israel. Our expectation was that his documentary would present a serious portrait of what Jews worldwide face today -- anti-Semitism in both its age-old and new forms, and the actions taken to counter it.
After seeing "Defamation" we can only say the film fell far short of our expectation. Rather than document anti-Semites and their hatred of Jews and the Jewish State of Israel, the film belittles the issue and portrays the work of ADL and that of his own country as inconsequential. There was so much more Shamir could have and should have done.
"Defamation" is neither enlightening, nor edifying, nor compelling. It distorts the prevalence and impact of anti-Semitism and cheapens the Holocaust. It is Shamir's perverse, personal, political perspective and a missed opportunity to document a serious and important issue.
-- May 8, 2009