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Israel Lost; Jews Won

Israel Lost; Jews Won

Associate Editor

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Few things illuminate just how useless Israel can sometimes be better than its film industry. This year, “Waltzing With Bashir” was Israel’s entry for Academy Award’s Oscar for best foreign language film.

It lost. Good.

The film focused on the killings at Sabra & Shatilla during the first Lebanon war. That’s when, in Menachem Begin’s words, “goyim kill goyim, and they come to blame the Jews.”

It was an ugly episode. The goyim who were killed were Palestinians. The goyim who did the killing were Lebanese Phalangists. The Jews who were blamed, by international consensus, were the Israelis, because they controlled the area and were allied with the Phalangists, even though the Lebanese did the murdering of their own initiative. The episode has become a buzzword for Jew-haters, a test-run for slandering the Israeli army, such as we’ve seen in Gaza a few weeks ago.

Considering how much anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (and Jewish embarassment, for those Jews embarassed by this sort of thing) this episode unleashed, one would think Israel would want to keep this story as far from anti-Semitic eyes as possible, particulary at a time when anti-Semitism is soaring around the world.

No, here’s what the Zionists in Israel did with this film: They promoted it. As JTA reports, “Waltzing With Bashir” was financed with Israeli government funds, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry is only sorry it couldn’t do more: ‘Our only problem is that Sony Pictures Classics doesn’t let us be more involved and help a little more,’ said Yoram Morad, the Israeli consul in New York for cultural affairs.”

According to JTA, a description of the film on the Web page of Israel’s culture office in New York calls the film a “gripping” and “powerful denunciation of the senselessness of all wars.” Except this was Israel’s war. And there was nothing senseless about it other than Israel’s refusal and/or inability to win.

The thinking of Israel’s cultural office, says JTA, was that if people see the film, they’d see that it wasn’t Jews who murdered the Palestinians. Of course, back in 1982, anyone who could read a newspaper or watch a newscast could have known that, as well. But that didn’t happen, did it? Just about everyone this side of Menachem Begin concluded, sure, the Lebanese did murdering but the Jews were responsible. The killings were the centerpiece of why Ariel Sharon earned the nickname “the butcher of Beirut.

If you’re curious about how the Arabs remember it, read the Arab News and Electronic Intifada.

David Saranga, the Israeli consul for media and public affairs in New York, told JTA, “One of the challenges is that people in the world see Israel as responsible for what happened in Sabra and Shatila, and this movie shows that it was Lebanese who killed Palestinians,” Saranga said. “Second, the fact that the person who is asking the tough questions is an Israeli shows the morality of the Israeli society and the Israeli soldiers. So it’s important to show what are the moral values that the Israelis and the Israeli soldiers have. So I don’t find it as something that can hurt our hasbara [public relations], not at all.”

Whenever an Israeli starts talking about “the morality of Israeli society,” duck. It means someone is being too defensive, accepting the premise that Jewish morality is something that anti-Semites can be persuaded to applaud. The premise is that anti-Semitism is just a big misunderstanding, the bad guys simply never had the chance to learn about how terrific we really are. If only anti-Semites got the kind of e-mails we send to each other about Israel’s innocence than they wouldn’t be anti-Semites anymore.

Do you really believe that?

The film depicts an Israeli soldier who is unable to remember what he did in the 1982 war, so he interviews his fellow soldiers about what happened. “The result,” writes JTA, “is a film that suggests a nation caught in the depths of a profound collective amnesia, unable or unwilling to come to grips with one of the most troubling episodes in its history. To a certain breed of pro-Israel activist, that goes a long way toward explaining the exuberance with which the film has been greeted in some European and Arab circles known for their less-than-warm embrace of things Israeli. And it also explains why some pro-Israel advocates still have concerns about the image projected by the film.”

“‘The concern is the timing,’ said Shoham Nicolet, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Israeli Leadership Council. ‘Following the Second Lebanon War and the operation in Gaza, the movie might strengthen a false image of Israel as an aggressive country victimizing its enemies. Unfortunately, some of the ideas and vocabulary used in the movie can be taken out of context and might reinforce the misleading anti-Israel propaganda.’”

Would you like to know where Jewish charity goes? According to JTA, the Foundation for Jewish Culture gave $25,000 to help produce the movie. The FJC’s president, Elise Bernhardt, added that the FJC also produced a guide to the movie because “Some people will see it and immediately assume that it is anti-Israel.’” Really?

“‘This is to address those people who they would see it and say it is anti-Israel, to say to them ‘No, it is not. Look at the questions they are asking. Get in there and wrestle with it.’”

And how many people who go to “Waltzing With Bashir” will ever see that guide?

On Oscars night, the report went on, “at the Beverly Hilton, where Israeli diplomats and journalists had gathered, the festive mood turned grim when ‘Departures’ was named the top foreign language film. Israeli Consul General Yaakov Dayan did not hide his disappointment.”

Imagine that. Israel’s representatives, professional Zionists, are disappointed this film lost. And they also happens to think that Israel’s useless three-week Gaza war was a win.

Lenin used to call his enemies who worked against themselves, such as these Israelis, “useful idiots.”

But let me be useful to you, dear reader. In Israel there are actually brilliant filmmakers at the Maale film school who are useful to Jews, not to anti-Semitic propagandists. You can read about the Maale film school at the Maale Web site, in The Wall Street Journal, and at Israel21.

Maale proves that you don’t have to be someone’s “useful idiot” to be a Zionist.

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