A new, crowdsourced documentary project on xenophobia in Europe features clips discussing anti-Semitism, among other stories.
“Strangers at Home,” a project of the Global Reporting Center, features nine clips, each from a different country, in which locals share their experiences.
One, from Malmö, Sweden, features 19-year-old Jonathan Vaknine, talking about what he said is a conspiracy of silence about anti-Semitism in his town. Vaknine explains that people relate local anti-Semitism to the city’s immigrant population, and anyone accusing them of anti-Semitism is labeled racist.
Vaknine was physically and verbally attacked in the hallways of his high school for being a Jew, and when he invited a speaker to the school to address the problem, his principal shut down the event.
“He doesn’t want anyone to think that there’s a problem here. They say, ‘If you can’t see the problem, then there is no problem,’” Vaknine lamented.
Another clip features Serbian cartoonist Alexsandar Zograf, tackling the mystery of anti-Semitism in a country whose Jewish population was mostly wiped out during the Holocaust. Zograf’s comments are an “attempt to reflect on Serbian past and present,” Zograf said, and address the absurdity of Serbian soccer hooligans who “hate Jewish people without seeing one in their entire lives.”
Zograf also drew a comic about the story of Serbian Jews in World War II, focusing on Hilde Dajc, a young girl murdered in the Sajmište concentration camp in Belgrade.
“Strangers at Home” was spearheaded by Peter Klein, a European journalist.
“When I first started seeing the appearance of swastikas on walls, Roma camps attacked and rallies against Muslims, I realized we had a responsibility to tell these stories,” said Klein. “But foreign correspondents parachuting in to tell these stories would likely yield the same, predictable, narratives.”
Shayna Paul, the project’s manager, said that they sought to show a diversity of perspectives that is “often lost in the way the mainstream media covers right-wing populism.”
The Global Reporting Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigating neglected stories around the world, plans to continue commissioning and collecting stories, and hopes to eventually turn the clips into a full-length theatrical documentary.
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