Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Movie Review: Netflix normalizes antisemitic hate preacher Farrakhan

Netflix is marketing a recently released film called "You People" as an edgy romantic comedy about race relations in the U.S.

In reality, the movie traffics in negative stereotypes about Jews and shamefully normalizes hate-preacher Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

Farrakhan's decades-long history of Jew-hatred is well-documented. It includes remarks such as "Satanic Jews have infected the whole world with poison and deceit" and outright lies, including his demonstrably false claim that "there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks." In reality, the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by Islamic terrorists associated with the Al-Qaeda group.

Despite famously describing the genocidal monster Adolf Hitler as a "very great man," Farrakhan remains a popular figure among celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and even Madonna.

Similarly troubling, the Netflix movie "You People" features characters who excuse his hate-filled rhetoric.

This includes comments from the character Ezra, played by the film's star, Jewish actor Jonah Hill.

Ezra claims that Farrakhan "tells it like it's gotta be told."

Let that sink in: a Jewish character, played by one of the entertainment industry's biggest Jewish stars, stating in a major motion picture that the leader of a designated hate group who spreads vicious conspiracies about Jews "tells it like it's gotta be told."

How does it have to be told, Jonah?

In addition to Jew-washing Farrakhan's hate with Hill's comments, the movie also portrays Ezra's parents in a "prurient, fetishistic, gauche" manner with "no actual history or beliefs beyond wealth," according to the Forward's review. That piece also took issue with the film's portrayal of a screaming match between Ezra's parents and those of his Black love interest, Amira. Amira's parents not only downplay the Holocaust, they claim Jews' wealth was inherited from controlling the slave trade.

Spread false conspiracy theories much, Netflix?

In addition to the Farrakhan content, the film features references to another famous Hitler-admirer in the form of music by Kanye West, who has promoted a wide variety of antisemitic conspiracies, praised the Nazis, and falsely claimed to be a Jew himself.

'You People' Blasted

The movie's not-so-subtle anti-Jewish themes have been slammed on social media and in mainstream outlets like Newsweek. The film also earned scorn from British comedian David Baddiel, the author of a book called "Jews Don't Count" among many other titles.

Baddiel tweeted last week about the film's Jewish family being "positioned as white, privileged and racist. The black family just have a stern dad. At the end there's much Jewish [apologizing] for racism. None for antisemitism. That word never appears."

The movie was also blasted for "openly marketing Farrakhan" by Instagram-er Craig Bokerman Schwartz, whose nuanced approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Jew-hatred, and race relations are earning him a growing following on the social media platform.

Schwartz's well-informed takedowns of pro-Palestinian fallacies, debunking antisemitic conspiracies, and insightful commentary on hatred masquerading as entertainment, such as "You People," reflect the frustration many feel with the discourse in so-called progressive circles related to Israel, Jews, and race.

According to Schwartz, parts of "You People" feel "like an after-school special that's openly marketing Farrakhan."

"Like it was written specifically to give Farrakhan a wider appeal to a larger, possibly Jewish audience," he added.

Schwartz was not alone in his aversion to the film's take on the hate-preacher, with Jewish musician and activist Hila Love blasting "You People" on Twitter and her Instagram account, which has over 17,000 followers.

"By including Nation of Islam in a romantic comedy as some sort of quirky character flaw, you make a joke of anti-Jewish racism past and present #YouPeople," tweeted Love.

Allison Josephs, founder of a nonprofit called "Jew in the City" that fights stereotypes about religious Jews, also called out "You People," commending Newsweek "for giving voice to what so many Jews are feeling."

In the Newsweek piece, Josephs commented, "There were so many falsehoods, or so many claims put out there without any challenge. And so now that becomes just part of what people may accept to be true. It's an erasure of Jewish history and like an invalidation of all that we've been through and all that we continue to go through. It was a really painful movie to watch."

The Newsweek article added, "Also at issue for Josephs are the 'cheap' jokes about the Holocaust, depictions of Jewish women with large noses and suggestions that it's commonplace for Jewish families to come from several generations of wealth, with success largely achieved through connections."

Netflix's Fake True Story

Netflix's "You People" fiasco was preceded by a controversy in December 2022 related to a Jordanian film called "Farha" about Israel's War of Independence in 1948.

The film vilified the Israeli army and was riddled with inaccuracies. The Israeli government blasted the streaming platform for promoting a movie "whose sole purpose was to create a false pretense and incite against Israeli soldiers." One Israeli lawmaker referred to "Farha" as an "attempted blood libel."

Among the film's most troubling scenes was one in which the main character, a 14-year-old girl, watched Israeli troops kill four members of a Palestinian family, including children, leaving a newborn to die.

While the film claimed to be "inspired by true events," the director was forced to admit that she never talked to the person on whom the film was based.

In other words, the murder scene was made up and the supposedly true story is fictional.

While Netflix's desire to promote these messages about the founding of the Jewish state should raise serious questions, it is unconscionable that the streaming service fans the flames of Jew-hatred with positive references to Farrakhan amid a spike in antisemitic violence and deteriorating Jewish-Black relations in the U.S.


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