Hollywood star Michael Douglas, two time Academy Award and four time Golden Globes Award winner, recently opened up in an op-ed about his process of growing closer to Judaism, and shared a recent run-in with anti-Semitism faced by his son.
In the op-ed, published in the Los Angeles Times this Saturday and entitled "Michael Douglas finds Judaism and faces anti-Semitism," the acclaimed actor noted that while staying at a hotel in southern Europe last summer during a family vacation, his son Dylan returned to the hotel room after a man at the swimming poll "started hurling insults at him."
"Suddenly I had an awful realization of what might have caused the man's outrage: Dylan was wearing a Star of David," recalls Douglas.
The actor notes he went to the pool and found the man who had shouted at his son, at which point "we talked. It was not a pleasant discussion. Afterward, I sat down with my son and said: 'Dylan, you just had your first taste of anti-Semitism.'"
"My father, Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, is Jewish. My mother, Diana, is not. I had no formal religious upbringing from either of them, and the two kids I have with Catherine Zeta-Jones are like me, growing up with one parent who is Jewish and one who is not," noted Douglas.
Despite the distance from Judaism, Douglas's son Dylan several years ago "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," he added.
The actor recalled how his son's brush with anti-Semitism reminded him of his own first encounter with Jew hatred back in high school, when a friend of his told him "Michael, all Jews cheat in business."
"With little knowledge of what it meant to be a Jew, I found myself passionately defending the Jewish people," recalled Douglas. "Now, half a century later, I have to defend my son. Anti-Semitism, I've seen, is like a disease that goes dormant, flaring up with the next political trigger."
There are three reasons for the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism according to the actor, one being that the global economy is bad and Jews are historically targeted as a scapegoat in such situations.
Another reason is the "irrational and misplaced hatred of Israel" that unjustly is utilized as a pretext for Jew hatred; finally, he notes that "Europe is now home to 25 million to 30 million Muslims, twice the world's entire Jewish population," meaning an extremist public naturally exists within that population and takes out its hatred against Jews.
"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," concluded Douglas.