Actor Michael Douglas is speaking out against anti-Semitism and calling everyone to rise to the challenge of disbanding discrimination against Jews once and for all.
In op-ed published by the Los Angeles Times, Douglas recalled an incident last year when his 14-year-old son got “his first taste of anti-Semitism.”
The two-time Oscar winner was vacationing in Europe with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and two children.
“During our stay at a hotel, our son Dylan went to the swimming pool,” Douglas wrote. “A short time later he came running back to the room, upset. A man at the pool had started hurling insults at him.”
Douglas admitted that he thought the boy had misbehaved but after observing his son, who was in tears, he noticed something that changed everything.
“I stared at him,” Douglas continued. “And suddenly I had an awful realization of what might have caused the man’s outrage: Dylan was wearing a Star of David.”
Douglas marched down to the pool and confronted the man.
“We talked. It was not a pleasant discussion,” Douglas wrote. “Afterward, I sat down with my son and said: ‘Dylan, you just had your first taste of anti-Semitism.'”
The incident brought back memories of Douglas’ first encounter with anti-Semitism in high school.
“A friend saw someone Jewish walk by, and with no provocation he confidently told me: Michael, all Jews cheat in business,” wrote Douglas, whose father, Kirk Douglas, is Jewish. “With little knowledge of what it meant to be a Jew, I found myself passionately defending Jewish people.”
“Now, half a century later, I have to defend my son,” Douglas continued. “Anti-Semitism, I’ve seen, is like a disease that goes dormant, flaring up with the next political trigger.
Douglas went on to cite the January killing of Jewish people at a kosher grocery store in Paris following the bloodbath at the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
He also cited the Feb. 15 shooting at a synagogue bat mitzvah in Copenhagen, Denmark, where one man was killed. The same gunman later shot up a cafe. Artist Lars Vilks, who is known for his controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, was there for an event.
Douglas wrote that his son, who attends Hebrew school and has been studying for his bar mitzvah, is lucky to be in America.
“My son is strong. He is fortunate to live in a country where anti-Semitism is rare,” Douglas wrote. “But now he too has learned of the dangers that he as a Jew must face.
“It’s a lesson that I wish I didn’t have to teach him, a lesson I hope he will never have to teach his children.”
The actor went on to praise Pope Francis and New York’s Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan for also speaking out against anti-Semitism. He commended them for their efforts to improve the relationship between the Jewish and Catholic communities but added “it’s also the responsibility of regular citizens to take action.”
“So that is our challenge in 2015, and all of must take it up,” Douglas wrote. “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.”
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons