Defamation Review: Powerful, Dramatic and Poignant from Director Yoav Shamir

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Defamation,” a documentary that explores Director Yoav Shamir’s personal views of Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Nazi’s, in a world where the only opinions are the traditional hardline views and begs the question of its value in a post-Hitler world.

Defamation” travels the world to anti-Semitic hot spots: Israel, New York’s Crown Heights and Auschwitz Concentration Camp, in Oswiecim, Poland and to areas where anti-Semitism is discussed, freely, and often without thought of retaliation only to find that expressed views can be the trigger for terminations and deep seeded resentments and anger.

That, in reality, is where the documentary begins Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a mixed demographic neighborhood of Jewish and African Americans. In 1991, the tension in Crown Heights escalated resulting in a three day stand-off between the communities. Although the film reveals very opinionated thoughts, a basic live and let live attitude has gelled and opinions haven’t changed much on either side.

Shamir is intent on finding a severe anti-Semitic incident and heads to the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, to find a case he could track and document.

Initially rash words spoken in anger due to a duty assignment was not the type of incident he expected. The film maker didn’t see the harshness associated with word choice as substantial and asked for another case. The second effort involved violence against children on a bus in New York and seemed worthy, although miniscule, in comparison to the Israeli student’s annual trip to Auschwitz concentration camp.

"Defamation," of course, is edited to the film maker’s purpose which seems almost contradictory to the thesis of the film which is to discover the value of generational hatred. The contemporary views on the subject of Auschwitz, Anti-Semitism and Jewish hatred are, according to the author, archaic.

The most affecting sequences of “Defamation” deal with the students as they come face to face with their ancestry in the halls of Auschwitz.  The students are documented through the semester long preparation process, a sort of pre-post traumatic stress counseling session, which attempts to brief them for their coming of age trip.

The Israeli army, special security, accompanies the tour bus. The film shows the normalcy of first reactions by students who have never flown; been out of the country, out of the parents eye, all of the normalcy’s that make the “Defamation” powerful, dramatic and poignant.

The hatred, the anti-Semitism, which prevailed during Hitler’s reign, is still predominate today as the student’s discover when they prepare for a field trip. The tour of the death camps is impacting. The students walk through sullen and then break. The atrocities perpetrated against their ancestors hit them with the same strength as fire from the ovens.  

The skulls of the dead have never been removed after all these years. The locks of hair, from the shaven heads of the dead have become spools of thread, and are encased in a walk through along with other items, piles and piles, mounds and mounds, of personal items, shoes, clothes, suitcases, hair, belongings, lives. The sequences are tragic, moving and understandably defining.

The trip leaves them depleted. The joy of youth is replaced by the weight of reality.

No film on the subject of the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism would be complete without the opinion of the scholars around the world who have dedicated their lives and careers to the continuation, exploration and documentation of a time in history so filled with hatred, violence, barbaric savage rage that it has left a permanent mark.

The scholars are controversial and as we learn society and popular opinion rule and freedom of speech has boundaries when dealing with explosive subjects.

The director is very active in the film and acts as narrator, interviewer and cinematographer and moves from the ADL to the living room of his grandmother, (when in need of wisdom go to the wise), to the newsroom in Israel where the publisher still bears the scar of his time in the death camps. The number on his forearm is indelible; the scars in his mind the same. Never forgive; never forget.

Never forgive; never forget the creed of the Israeli people; the creed of all people who have endured atrocities. Never forgive; never forget.

Defamation” is worth seeing especially as it is made by an Israeli film director who clearly explores a different opinion. “Defamation” has a running time of 93 minutes and is in English and Hebrew w/English subtitles.


For more information on Defamation:










who offer differing views on the


the sequences




It is understandable. The atrocities committed against six million people; 10% of the global population murdered; slaughtered; if it happened to one life




A guide to the


The student travel annually to Germany to tour the very camps where their ancestors were murdered.




Although they attend classes before the trip as sort of a pre-counseling session the students don’t believe the trip will impact them to the degree that the counselors expect.






The students rite of passage and understandably so stays with them




They don’t understand the hate.


permanent ineradicable ineffaceable




Who understands hate? Why






Ineffaceable; ingrained; ineradicable; enduring; permanent; lasting.










Splash Magazines Worldwide, LASplash, NYSplash,  Janet Walker,, Defamation, Yoav Shamir, Abe Foxman,   


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