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Of Moguls, The Ku Klux Klan, & The Jewish Australian Dream: A Friday Thought

August 23, 2013 – 9:42 am12 Comments

From the editor:

ku klux klan2In his book, Them, about (mostly anti-Semitic) extremists,  Jon Ronson writes about a very odd chapter in the history of American cinema.

The great Jewish movie mogul, Louis B Mayer’s early foray into movie production included a film – Birth of a Nation – that glorified the Ku Klux Klan.

This was during the period just before the Jewish influx into the American movie industry. Today, Jews comprise 2% of America’s population and 60% of the movie business.

Ronson also writes about the hesitation of American Jewish producers to advocate through film for European Jewry during the Holocaust for fear of drawing negative attention to American Jewry. Indeed, at times, according to Ronson, some of the more anti-Semitic people in American film were Jews themselves.

Despite all the reticence and antipathy, however, Ronson describes a filmic culture with an indelible Jewish stamp.

Where once American cinema glorified white supremacy, the Jewish influx created films that extolled the virtues of tolerance and the victory of the little guy over various Goliaths. Ronson contends that it is a very Jewish sentimentality that seems to permeate so many movies and that  the American dream is born of this culture. He argues that the American dream is therefore inherently a Jewish dream.

Do you agree with Ronson’s assessment?

Do you believe that Australian Jews are similarly conflicted?

What is the Australian Jewish dream and is it any different from the aspirations of broader Australia?

Is there a dream at all?

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