Hear from attorney suing Amazon for distributing film that promotes violence against Jews.
Urging Jews to become more vocal and to use the law to fight back against extremist groups such as the Black Hebrew Israelites who are spreading hateful misinformation through film and social media that leads to violence, the Michigan chapter of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) invites the community to a talk by attorney Martin Leaf. He will speak the event, “The Fight Against Antisemitism in Film: Amazon’s Hebrew to Negroes (H2N): Wake up America,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. The evening will feature clips of the film to prompt further discussion.
Leaf, who represents the nonprofit HP Benson Association, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 13 in Ottawa County 20th Circuit Court in Grand Rapids against Amazon for continuing to air the film.
The lawsuit states that “the film is the latest step in America’s war against the Jews, which is being waged by various factions all over America with criminal violence, threats and intimidation against Jews.” It alleges that Amazon’s sale and promotion of H2N is promoting criminal violence against Caucasian Jews in America.
The lawsuit also alleges that Amazon’s promotional trailers of the film fail to inform the viewer that H2N contains propaganda against Jews based on Hitler’s Jew-hating propaganda and that Amazon fails to reveal that a substantial part of the ideology of H2N is achieved subliminally and, therefore, illegally.
In December 2022, after a rash of complaints, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy released in a statement that the company’s streaming platform will not remove the antisemitic movie, nor will it include a disclaimer on the site explaining the context of the film’s discriminatory viewpoints. Instead, the company relies on customer reviews about the movie as a form of content moderation.
H2N had its world premiere in 2018 in Detroit. The film contains a variety of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories such as the claim that Jewish people control the media. It makes false claims that deny the Holocaust, claims “white” Jews are not “real” Jews, and states that Jewish people dominated the slave trade.
After NBA player Kyrie Irving tweeted about it, the film has rocketed to popularity among the millions of his followers.
“This film is just the latest installment of many films that spread hateful propaganda that aim to demonize Jews,” Leaf said. “These films are gaining followers, which leads to violent incidents against Jews, especially those in the Orthodox community.
“The First Amendment protects free speech, including free expression in media such as films, even if they tout Nazi ideology,” Leaf added. “But this film falls under the exception because it can be linked to increased criminal behavior toward a minority such as Jews, and one can argue in this case that the distribution of this film and violence against Jews can be linked.”
Leaf pointed to many incidents where Jews have been targeted by some members of the Black community, including countless attacks against religious Jews in Brooklyn. In June of 2021, there were several incidences of Orthodox men assaulted by Black men as they walked home from Friday night services. In one account, the assailants called the Jews “fake Jews.”
In another widely publicized incident from 2019, Black Hebrew Israelites murdered three Jews and injured three others in a Jersey City kosher market on Dec. 10, 2019. Investigations revealed that the perpetrators of the crime filled their social media feeds with antisemitic rhetoric.
“These are all calling cards indicating that the perpetuators of these crimes have prescribed to the ideologies found in this film,” Leaf said. “Amazon is promoting Nazi ideology in this film, and it is trying to pass it off as a fact-based documentary.”
The lawsuit states: “The Hebrews to Negroes (H2N) film is the latest salvo in America’s war against the Jews, which is being waged by various factions all over America with criminal violence against Jews, threats, intimidation, institutional Jew hatred, discrimination and a nullification of Jewish human dignity across America’s institutions.”
Among some of the film’s imagery are Jewish men praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, their heads shrouded in prayer shawls, with the voice of the narrator speaking “the synagogue of Satan and Lucifer himself.”
Another image is a carved stone façade of a Jewish star with a horned devil-like figure in its center, as the narrator speaks: “The seed of Edom, the seed of Cain, the Synagogue of Satan, and Lucifer himself are the major confederate that has been against us for a very long time.”
ZOA Michigan President Sheldon L. Freilich said it is not acceptable to stay silent in the face of antisemitism.
“We must stand as proud Jews without bowing our heads when faced with this hatred,” Freilich said. “This vile film denies the Holocaust, proliferates hatred that Jews are the manifestation of the devil, spreads a Nazi genocidal hatred, among other despicable lies.
“Shockingly,” he adds, “it encourages criminal hatred and violence by some members of the Black community toward Jews.
“What’s equally disturbing is that the film fools the unaware viewer with subliminal hate messaging.”
For more information and to RSVP, send an email to Kobi@MIZOA.org or call (248) 672-7713.