The actor, 70, decide to express himself because of the anti-Semitism his young son, Dylan, experienced in Southern Europe on a family vacation. Now just 14, Dylan was driven to tears by a man who was “hurling insults” at him – all because was wearing a Star of David.
Douglas had to tell his son that he had just had his “first taste of anti-Semitism.”
Michael’s mother, Diane, is not Jewish, though his father, veteran leading man Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch), is; “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,” said Michael.
Michael Douglas wrote in his op-ed piece that there are “three reasons anti-Semitism is appearing now with renewed vigilance,” because “anti-Semitism, I’ve seen, is like a disease that goes dormant, flaring up with the next political trigger.”
The actor cited a flagging economy, “an irrational and misplaced hatred of Israel” and “simple demographics” for the recent surge in European anti-Semitism.
“Europe is now home to 25 million to 30 million Muslims, twice the world’s entire Jewish population,” he wrote. “Within any religious community that large, there will always be an extremist fringe, people who are radicalized and driven with hatred, while rejecting what all religions need to preach – respect, tolerance and love. We’re now seeing the amplified effects of that small, radicalized element.”
As a solution, Douglas calls for our political and religious leaders to speak up, and for regular citizens to take responsibility, as they did in Oslo, Norway, when more than 1,000 people formed a “ring of peace” around a synagogue so that Jews could practice their religion in safety.
“This is our challenge in 2015,” Douglas wrote, “and all of us must take it up. Because if we confront anti-Semitism whenever we see it, if we combat it individually and as a society, and use whatever platform we have to denounce it, we can stop the spread of this madness.