“Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas!”
When Evelyn Markus made the difficult decision to leave Amsterdam, the “world’s most liberal city”, where she had grown up and come to the United States, she thought she was leaving hate behind.
Her reasons for leaving a country where her ancestors had lived for four centuries, and her continuing journey through history and hatred, is at the heart of her new documentary film, Never Again is Now.
Evelyn’s Amsterdam is a city of contrasts filled with the familiar sights of flowers and canals, and the shocking, but alsoincreasingly familiar sights of angry mobs chanting support for the Islamic terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah, and howling out their hatred for the Jews. It’s this everyday horror that drove her out of the Netherlands, and that drives Never Again is Now’scollision of history and current events.
For Evelyn Markus, the daughter of Dutch Jews who survived the Holocaust, the “world’s most liberal city” stopped being all that liberal. The death of her parents and the death of the ‘liberal’ city where she had grown up became intertwined as a journey of the mind and the soul.
That journey, in which Evelyn pored through her parents’ letters and their stories of the Holocaust even as she confronted the rebirth of popular anti-Semitism, eventually became Never Again is Now, a documentary about the past, present and future of Jewish life, and its evil twin, anti-Semitism.
Evelyn’s journey in Never Again is Now takes us into history, not just in the past, but in its endurance and emergence today, in the heroic, as she meets Frank Towers, the 90-year-old veteran who helped save her family, in Nashville at the last reunion of the 30th Infantry Veterans of World War II, and in the confrontation with evil, encountering an anti-Semitic mob chanting, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”
Evelyn’s parents had fallen in love under the shadow of the Nazi occupation of Holland, and survived, reunited and married, only to have their daughter flee the rise of that same hatred, this time not under the Swastika, but the red banners of the Left and the green banners of Islam. A generation after her parents had built a life together, Evelyn observed a new anti-Semitism coming from the “political Left.”
And the growth of Muslim migration had also spurred a new wave of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.
Evelyn’s struggle to understand this rising hatred drew her to Ayaan Hirsi Ali: a Somali ex-Muslim immigrant who had faced death threats for her willingness to speak out against Islamic hatred. Ali notes the close parallels between the Islamic bigotry that she had escaped and Neo-Nazi movements.
As Muslim immigrant children filled Dutch schools, Ali describes how history lessons about the Holocaust came under fire. Meanwhile the anti-Israel protests of leftists and Islamists incorporated chants of “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”, fantasizing openly about perpetrating another Holocaust.
In interviews with the Jews who have remained behind in Holland, Evelyn repeatedly encounters stories of harassment and threats by those Jewish residents who are visibly identifiable as being Jewish.
“It is very difficult to be outwardly Jewish,” Rabbi Raphael Evers describes.
A Jewish resident interviewed in Never Again is Now describes hearing taunts of, “Hitler should have finished the job.” He was physically attacked twice by gangs of Muslims who beat and kicked him.
Never Again, as the movie’s title emphasizes, is once again now in Europe. And in America. Jewish synagogues and schools in Europe, and now in America, have become fortresses protected by heavily armed guards.
“Life in the Netherlands if you are Jewish and not ashamed of being Jewish is a predicament,” Ali observes. “Or you move.”
And that’s where Never Again is Now finds its journey, caught between Europe and America, between liberation and hatred, and between the old historical crisis of anti-Semitism and its new rebirth. Near the Hague, Muslim protesters chant, “AllahuAkbar” and “Death to the Jews”. What does liberalism even mean when it leads to tolerance of pro-Hamas and pro-ISIS rallies?
“We should be tolerant of those who are tolerant of us,” Geert Wilders argues.
Much of what passes for tolerance is actually a tolerance for intolerance. The sympathy toward anti-Semitism on the Left that Never Again is Now chronicles in interviews and videos betray that truth.
And why tolerate intolerance, why give anti-Semitism a pass,unless you support its perpetrators?
Through her interviews with Frank Towers, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders, with an elderly Holocaust survivor, with the founder of a Jewish self-defense group, and with scholars, thinkers, and ordinary people, Evelyn Markus grapples with the persistence of history, the endurance of anti-Semitism, and the growth of an ancient hatred.
“I fight by making a documentary,” she says.
And the fight didn’t end when Evelyn left Amsterdam and Europe.
The same ugly phenomenon that forced her out of Europe is becoming manifest in this country.
From Louis Farrakhan to Richard Spencer, from Islamists to anti-Israel activists, from Black Lives Matter to the Alt-Right, the historical crisis of anti-Semitism is alive and well in the United States of America.
The situation may not be as grave in Europe. But that too may only be a matter of time.
Evelyn and Never Again is Now find themselves in an America where Rep. Ilhan Omar, an open bigot, sits in the House, where House Democrats pay court to Louis Farrakhan, where synagogues are shot up by admirers of the Third Reich, and Jewish college students are harassed on campuses by BDS bigots.
Evelyn’s family had been liberated by American soldiers. But America itself is under siege.
A decade ago, Americans were shocked at the videos of Muslim anti-Semitism featured in Never Again is Now. Today, the documentary has no trouble finding videos of Imams preaching the murder of Jews in America. Jewish life in America appears to be converging on the same dark tunnel as Jewish life in Europe. But Never Again is Now’s message is not one of despair, but of resistance and courage.
“Never again, even in America, is now,” Evelyn declares.
As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, who has herself become a refugee, Evelyn persists. And the men and women she interviews, Jewish and non-Jewish, are not giving up in the face of an ancient evil.
Never Again is Now is not just a documentary. It’s Evelyn’s cause. As a co-founder of the Network on Anti-Semitism, fighting the evil that her parents were fortunate enough to survive is her mission.
“As soon as WWII ended, an Islamist movement that had provided an Arab legion for Hitler, set out to destroy the Jewish State of Israel with the war cry ‘Push the Jews into the sea.’Now 80 years later leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran change ‘Death to Israel’ and have provided their terrorist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas with nearly 200,000 rockets to finish the job that Hitler started. Never Again Is Now is a compelling appeal to save world Jewry from extinction. Hopefully its appeal will be heard and heeded before it is too late,” David Horowitz said of Never Again is Now.
Confronting anti-Semitism begins with the courage to tell the truth about it. And that’s what Never Again is Now does. It doesn’t shy away from dealing with the uncomfortable truths about hatred.
Instead, it takes it on.