I’m glad to know that my online colleague, M.J. Rosenberg, Director of Policy Analysis for Israel Policy Forum, has joined the debate over the controversial Palestinian film, Paradise Now which is a hot contender for Best Foreign Language Oscar. Like me, Rosenberg is made very uncomfortable by the hysterical campaign being waged by Israelis against the film’s candidacy:
I’m trying to describe the phenomenon when people appear trapped in a different historical period than the present and react to events in an outdated context. The phrase “time warp” comes to mind.
The thought struck me after reading an article about a campaign by, what the Associated Press called, “pro-Israel activists” to prevent the Palestinian film, “Paradise Now” from winning an Oscar for best foreign language film when the Academy Awards are presented this Sunday.
…In today’s Washington Post, the always hyperbolic Charles Krauthammer publishes a column called Oscars for Osama. (I’m serious). In it he fulminates about “Paradise Now” and “Munich” but adds George Clooney’s “Syriana,” which he says is “pathological” and “could have been scripted by Osama Bin Laden.”
And for more such over-the-top ranting, take a look at Debbie Schlussel who one of my readers tells me “has been screeching” about Paradise Now for A YEAR! She calls the film “the pro-homicide bomber movie.” She seems like an Ann Coulter wannabe (“We are fighting a religion that is now dominated globally by fascism and extremism”). Maybe a Jewish Coulter? Though Ann is thankfully sui generis. No one can be as toxic and insanely incendiary as she, not even Debbie.
Rosenberg continues by explaining why Paradise Now threatens no one, not Israel, not Israelis:
…This mindless hysteria is truly offensive.
It should be obvious that Israel is not threatened by the Motion Picture Academy. Even if the actors portraying the suicide bombers walked off with dual “Best Actor” Oscars, Israel would survive. It will even survive a Steven Spielberg film that simply raises the question of whether the status quo, the cycle of violence and retaliation, is in Israel’s best interests.
So why the movie madness?
I think it’s because it’s considerably easier to worry about an imaginary Hollywood threat to Israel than the real threat posed by continuation of the status quo.
Absolutely, in my experience what Rosenberg calls the “status-quoniks” want desperately to maintain the illusion that all’s well with Israel’s current policies toward the Palestinians. The Occupation is manageable. Nothing needs to change. So when the news media publish a disturbing article or a filmmaker creates a work that threatens that status quo, then all hell breaks loose. The attitude seems to be: how dare you rock the boat. We were doing just fine without your intervention, thank you very much. Now go away. And if you won’t go away we’ll make you go away. We’ll mount a campaign against you. We’ll will you into oblivion.
I join Rosenberg is hoping that Paradise Now overcomes such negative smears and campaigning and wins an Oscar.