Michael Douglas, in Israel to receive the Genesis Prize, needs no introduction. He is big enough and famous enough to take care of himself.
But something happened. Not to him, but to his son, Dylan, and that’s when it really hurts.
Somewhere in Europe, as Douglas described it for the LA Times, 14-year-old Dylan came crying to his father about a verbal attack that took place at a swimming pool. A man took note of Dylan’s Star of David and proceeded to launch an anti-Semitic tirade.
Imagine the pain. This happened last summer and still today, Douglas is worked up with indignation.
He says something must be done about anti-Semitism. Agreed. He says this can only happen in Europe. Here I totally disagree.
Try making “Exodus” today. Let me know how it goes. Good luck.
First of all, there is plenty of that going around within the United States, if we dare come to terms with what’s really happening along our campuses.
Second, we need voices exactly like that, like those of the Hollywood rich and famous, people like Michael Douglas, to speak up, yes, to denounce anti-Semitism – but it is not enough to be against something. That gets you nowhere. More important is to be FOR something, and to be for Israel would be a good place to start.
Immediately another Douglas comes to mind – Kirk Douglas, Michael’s dad. If any Hollywood actor needs no introduction, this is the man, and what a man. Thank goodness we still have him with us at 98 years old. He is the final link to Hollywood’s Golden Age – and he is a Zionist.
He was a Zionist when everybody was a Zionist – and damn how times have changed!
Back in 1960, Otto Preminger gave us “Exodus” starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint. Let’s not quibble about the details. This was a Zionist film. Hollywood was not afraid to make it and there were no boycotts against the film, or against Israel.
Did I already say times have changed? Try making “Exodus” today. Let me know how it goes. Good luck.
The mood was so different back then because Israel was presented as a romance, a love story between a Land and its people.
That’s the theme of every Hollywood movie…boy gets girls, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back.
The Jewish people get Israel (Biblically), lose Israel, win her back. What a story, and back in the 1950s and 1960s it was a story that could be told, and nobody told it better, in 1966, than Kirk Douglas in “Cast A Giant Shadow.” This film gave it all, the pioneering spirit of the early founders, told with facts and emotion.
Who else was in that terrific movie? Frank Sinatra. Only Herzl himself was more of a Zionist than the Italian Kid from Hoboken. Sinatra's profound dedication to Israel was at a time when Israel was popular -- and why was it popular?
Because we had people like Sinatra and Kirk Douglas and Marlon Brando and John Wayne…and so many others who stood tall for Israel.
To stand for Israel is different from standing against anti-Semitism. People – especially the young – need a cause.
Against something is not a cause. For something is a cause.
At some point, from the 1960s forward, the mood changed. It’s for another time to discuss what happened and how it happened and why it happened – though for me, it started right after the 1973 War when Israel woke up late and a perceived weakness gave the anti-Semites an opening.
But that’s too simplistic. Radical Liberalism was on the move and it’s still moving and as we have learned to our dismay, Radical Liberalism and anti-Semitism – this is a marriage made in hell. In short, we lost the voices, the big voices, the glamour voices that speak for Israel.
Jon Voigt, bless him, yes, and who else?
That something like 80 percent of the Jewish vote went for Obama twice, that tells you something.
That Barbra Streisand and her Hollywood claque keep funding-raising for Obama, that tells us something maybe even bigger.
In America, pop culture IS culture, and when Israel can find only one or two friends within the Hollywood elite, somebody else must step up.
Let it be Michael Douglas.
Or let it be David Mamet. This Pulitzer Prize winner is our foremost playwright and a top-notch screenwriter. One day he decided that enough was enough. He quit toying with the façade of being “a brain-dead Liberal” and announced himself squarely as a Conservative and staunchly on the side of Israel.
He lost friends. You should have heard the geshrei in The New York Times.
Nobody said it would be easy. These are tough days and tough times to be Jewish, and it’s even tougher to be pro-Israel.
We can’t wait for an end to anti-Semitism. This will always be with us. But for a start to reinvigorate Jewish pride, Jewish muscle, there is only this…
Love of Zion.
Let’s hear it expressed resolutely from voices that count – while we still have a voice. Yes, before it’s too late.
Novelist Jack Engelhard wrote the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal” that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His latest work is “The Bathsheba Deadline.” Website: www.jackengelhard.com
This article first appeared in the monthly magazine "The Jewish Word", an RZA-Arutz Sheva publication in the US.