By Steve Gregory @stevegregory640 and Jacob Gonzalez
During a press conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Jacob and I sat there and listened to the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in LA talk about the spike in hate crimes, more specifically, attacks against Jewish people. We also heard the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper speak about the influence of social media and how Antisemitism has grown thanks to the anonymity of people who post hateful speech and incite violence. This was just a week after the rapper formerly known as Kanye West posted Antisemitic comments on his social media accounts.
As Jacob and I walked back to the newstruck we realized there was a need for us to go a little deeper than a quick news story, so we set out to expand the discussion about Antisemitism by producing a two-hour radio special. But because we had so much material we also created a companion podcast filled with the complete interviews and bonus audio that wouldn’t fit in the radio version.
Other documentaries and specials produced by the award-winning team of Steve Gregory and Jacob Gonzalez include, After the Verdict: A Path Forward, Unhoused: A Look at Homelessness in LA and Orange Counties, 9/11:Two Decades Later, A Season of Fire, Stopping the Hate, Deadly Pill, The Death and Life of Kobe Bryant, and Operation: Vaccination.
Here are the people we interviewed for their perspectives on Antisemitism and how they’re either coping as victims or fighting to stop it…or both!
Their entire interviews are on the podcast, Hate: Modern Antisemitism, on the iHeartRadio App or wherever you get your podcasts.
Episode 1: BARCLAY
Michael Barclay is the founding rabbi of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, California – just north of Los Angeles. Barclay talks about the history of Antisemitism from his perspective, the history, and politics of Temples in Southern California, and offers a firsthand account of the attacks on him, his family, and his home. Listen to his interview here.
Episode 2: BERENBAUM
Dr. Michael Berenbaum is the Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute which studies the ethical and religious implications of the Holocaust. He is based at the American Jewish University. He is also the curator of the only authorized traveling exhibition of Auschwitz. We caught up with him during the installation of the exhibit, Auschwitz Not Long Ago, Not Far Away at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. I'm interviewing Dr. Berenbaum inside an actual Auschwitz barracks brought from Poland and reassembled inside the Regan museum. Listen to this episode here
Episode 3: COHEN
Brandon Cohen is the Head of School at the Brawerman Elementary School in West Los Angeles. It is affiliated with the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, one of the largest on the West Coast. Cohen talks about educating children while surrounded by a compound-like security infrastructure, complete with armed guards. And he reveals how he and his staff broach the topics of hate crime and the Holocaust with his elementary students. Cohen's interview can be heard here.
Episode 4: COOPER
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California. He is also called upon to advise heads of state on hate crimes and Antisemitism. Cooper also heads up the team that produces the annual hate crime report card on media companies and individuals. Cooper gives us an unfiltered view of Antisemitism and its worldwide reach. Listen to our entire interview with Cooper here.
Episode 5: DEUTCH
Ted Deutch is the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy organization in New York which advances the issues impacting Israel and the global Jewish community. Deutch is a former member of the House of Representatives from the state of Florida. In May of 2023, Deutch was appointed by President Biden to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Deutch gives us the status of Antisemitism in the United States. My discussion with Deutch can be heard here.
Episode 6: HEM
Andrew Hem was born during his parents’ flight from Cambodia following the Khmer Rouge genocide. He eventually earned a degree in illustration from Art Center College of Design and has become a much sought after muralist. We visit Hem at the site of one of his murals in downtown Los Angeles which honors a woman who became a Holocaust rescuer. Listen to our on scene interview with Hem here.
Episode 7: SCHUMACHER
Dr. Matthew Schumacher is a clinical & operational psychologist with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Bureau. He also researches radicalization and threat assessment. Schumacher breaks down the hate crime threat in Southern California and summarizes the way he and others handle those traumatized by a hate incident or hate crime. He also talks about homegrown violent extremism. Schumacher's haunting and fascinating point of view can be heard here.
Episode 8: SPITZER
Todd Spitzer is the District Attorney for Orange County, California. He is known for his tough on crime stance and created a hate crimes unit filled with special prosecutors who know how to navigate the complicated maze of hate crime prosecution. DA Spitzer has gained the benchmark of having prosecuted more than twice the number of hate crimes of those previous DA’s over the last twenty-five years. Our complete interview with Spitzer can be heard here.