Sunday, February 19, 2006

“The Jew is mightier than the sword.” Or, “I eat my pepperoni pizza on paper plates.”

I recently received the following:

I just signed this. Please join me in getting "Paradise Now" off the

The Revoke the "Paradise Now" Oscar Nomination Petition is red hot,
averaging well over a thousand signatures a day, and increasing speed. The
revulsion being felt around the
world over Hollywood's nomination of "Paradise Now", a movie glorifying PLO
suicide bombers, is palpable. It is galvanizing opposition and spurring
decent people of all backgrounds to action to right this tremendous wrong.

This petition is a UNIFIER. If you have not already signed, please do so.

And please pass this on.

Associate Producer
MSLO Productions, Inc.
226 West 26th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001

I quickly responded asking whether she had seen the movie? As of yet I have received no response.

This short, yet telling email forward just about sums up everything that is wrong with the American Jewish community today.

Not unlike the bogus Fuji Film mass email that circulated a few years back, there is no honor or dignity in garnering a sense of satisfaction, particularly that of being a “good Jew,” because you hit forward on your email. Especially, when this feeling is false and adds to the improper sense of belonging because you are “against” something and have mouse clicked to prove it.

I have seen this movie and I do have personal feelings about it. I found it to be one of the most beautiful, moving, touching and empathetic works of film that I have seen in some time. It was much better than Cats. It presented a window into an existence that I can hardly begin to imagine. And, as is one of the main objectives of art, it appealed to my imagination and caused me to think by doing so. This, of course, as opposed to, a documentary, which would be an attempt at representing a narrative, perceived as a truth by those people telling it. And it is part of the viewers responsibility to know what s/he is watching.

Unfortunately, responsibility regarding serious thought that includes contemplation of competing narrative (read: competing truth) seems to be way too much to ask of the average American Jew. Perhaps this is a result of the vestigial Judaism left in wake of the breakdown of the Jewish nation. “You can’t tell me what to eat, pepperoni is just too fucking delicious, but please tell me what to think when it comes to Israel – OUR precious.” Often, it seems that Israel, specifically the Jewish aversion to Palestinians and all things Muslim is one of the last universal binding components that international Jewry can share.

But Jews are smart people, so maybe it is too immature or naïve to think that such an email is circulating because Jews don’t really have the time to think about Israel and its myriad nuanced problems. I suppose the other option is that this is a calculated attack against our adversarial enemies on the other side of the proverbial Green Line. Perhaps the email should read:

Palestinian (if that is your real name)-

You have managed to thrust your narrative into the American mainstream. We Jews will be damned if we let your competing voice sully the good name of Spielberg’s Hollywood, the same Hollywood built by the hands of the hated Jew back when America wasn’t so enlightened and liberal – two more changes you can thank us for.

You are proving a worthy adversary but you will rue the day that you crossed the machine that is the American Jewish lobby. Prepare for the real battle.

Feel free to forward this message to your other terrorist, murderer, suicidal and/or homicidal friends.

So what is the answer?

Well, I have started a new petition. All I ask of you is not to sign it. Rather, go out and see Paradise Now. Then read the petition statement that is circulating via mass email, one that perhaps you have already seen, maybe even signed. Then make a decision and only then, should you lend your name to this effort.

Please feel free to pass this blog posting along (there is a little envelope icon at the bottom of the post). Better yet, if you have a blog of your own (and who doesn't these days, so I'm talking to you!) please provide a link to this posting or reproduce it or, still better, write your own posting about this petition. Thanks.

And remember, Jews don’t control the media – mass emails, blog postings and online petitions do.


At 12:44 AM, Blogger Robbie said...

But before all of this you must assume that these petitions end up going to the peiople in charge of nominations, which, we're all pretty sure, they don't.

At 1:32 AM, Blogger SubVerse said...

Paradise Now should be shown in every possible Jewish forum. I hope it wins best film, and gets written up (again) in every paper so that it can't be ignored. I recieved that email as well and was infuriated by people's stupidity. This film is stunning and should be used to encourage, rather then stifle dialouge. Thanks for the post Ari.

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Neyne said...

Where can the movie be seen in Israel ?

I haven't seen it yet and i definitely intend to do so. This would not be the first time that the jewish communities in North America stand on their hind legs whenever someone tries to portret the palestinians as human. These are the same people that eat at Normans :)

At 9:07 PM, Blogger The Tower Keeper said...

No problem Ari, I'll put this link in my blog right away. Glad to see that there is logic out there.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger starbender said...

I have never even heard of this movie!

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I have seen Paradise Now and share some of your feelings. While I am a Jew I also think it is a compelling story that should not be censored or given short shrift solely because some people may disagree with the prespective presented. Jews who are supposed proponents of Free Speech and democracy would be wise to think before advocating such positions.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Laila said...

Hi Ari,
thanks for posting a comment on my site and directing me to your blog-I'll definitely check in every now and again.

Laila (of

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the common sense!

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Keir said...

You are correct. But I think we should turn our attention away from email petitions and the Oscars and towards more meaningful work. I am not surprised that some people with an "us vs. them" mentality want to block anything that does not sit well with their version of what is good and right and well. I hope to see Paradise Now soon, and if it's beautiful I will encourage others to see it.

But it is now a sideshow in the culture circus. Smells a bit like The Passion (not comparing the films, neither of which I've seen, just the bullshit surrounding their releases).

At 6:52 PM, Blogger cara said...

Ari, to maybe restore a little of your faith, I got this email too , as part of a group - a hamagshimim peer-led advocacy training workshop in which there are about 8 of us. one of the two guys leading it, who could be defined as a moderate, said he had seen the film and that he disagreed with that email and we should all ignore it - so there are 'center' located 'jewish leaders' out there encouraging the opposite. i am pretty sure most people realize how stupid this is, even the actively zionist.

ps post about tokyo

love cara

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous TA Anglo Chica said...

Ari, when something urks me the wrong way one day, you usually "mass-debate" the issue the following day on your blog. Just yesterday, I received this petition yet again from a friend. For the second time, I found myself "lashing out" at one of my best friends saying that as someone who is passing this petition on without even having seen the movie, she was no better than a suicide bomber following the herd of shayeeds who had gone before him (or her)! Why is it that as Jews we are taught (by our society) to REACT before we ACT? OK, maybe I didn't write it that harshly, but with elections coming up here and all the frustration that comes along with it, I had to vent the issue.
OH and here's a thought: I think Schindler's List should have been eliminated from the list of Oscar nominations because it depicted how Nazis think... Maybe we should start a petition to have it's award revoked.... hmm. Or, EVEN BETTER - what if wives of in-the-closet gay cowboys start a petition to have Brokeback taken off the list!

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Shaden said...

Thanks for making sense Ari.

At 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neyne... If you are in Tel Aviv, it's playing at the Cinemateque with Hebrew and English subtitles.

At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in Bethlehem for three years and found the movie to be insulting. It's aimed at ignorant Westerners (including Israelis) who don't know what life is actually like for Palestinians. The characters are caricatures of what people want to see sympathetic Arabs as and don't even come close to representing the "typical" bombers and certainly not regular life as a Palestinian.

It wasn't a bad film as films go, but in terms of accuracy it was pretty much completely off target.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Ethan said...

Hey Anonymous,

Granted the two bombers in the movie exuded a certain GQ stylishness that your "typical" suicide bomber wouldn't necessararly have, and in that sense yes, the movie was made for Westerners, but isnt that the point? Sure, the kissing scene would have been removed if the movie was being shown to a Nabulsi audience, but this movie wasn't made for Palestinians. What's the appeal for a Palestinian to watch a movie about suicide bombers. Don't they get enough of that?

Perhaps you just wanted to state that westerners and Israelis are ignorant of Palestinian living conditions? Well, that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone reading this blog.

There has been allot of criticism of the movie in the Palestinian community at home and abroad because there is a feeling that the movie doesnt do a good job of showing what they belive are the causes of the suicide bombing phenominon, only a few screen shots of checkpoints and Israeli soldier silhouettes. In other words, the movie doesn't show the nastier parts of the Israeli occupation in its entirety.

A friend from Nablus saw the movie around the same time I did. He was amazed at its authenticity and couldn't believe they got away with filming certain scenes like running through the streets of Nablus in the middle of the night. He tells me that most of the people and places are authentic. The guy selling Shahid video's is not an actor. The falafal place where the guy sits on the toilet is well known in Nablus and my friend claims to have taken many pisses and a few dumps in that exact toilet.

I guess my point is that, the movie, while appealing to a western sense of style and drama, isn't attempting to show the entirety of the shityness under Israeli occupation. It tells a story and in the process allows you to feel something for the characters whatever that may be. sympathy, empathy, anger, sadness....whatever. That kind of personal story telling about Palestinian life is missing in the "West" and Israel, so the fact that this movie is drawing so much attention is good.

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Jim from Iowa said...

I haven't seen "Paradise Now" and as a nonJew I am reluctanct to weigh in on the discussion here except to make this point. Wouldn't it be great if SCTV were still on the air and those two country bumpkin characters played by John Candy and Joe Flaherty would review "Paradise Now"? Jim Bob would say: "That one guy blowed up real good. Real Good!!" And Billie Sol Hurack would say, "Yea, he blowed up real, good. Whoooeee, doggs, did that feller ever blow up real good!" And that would be the movie review I would like to see of "Paradise Now."

At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See how anti semites hates Jews. Take an example from Pravda main forum:

And more...

See you


At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Shaden said...

Manual Ping: "News of the blogosphere…

In sad breaking news from A STAND FOR JUSTICE, an Israeli sniper killed a 15-year-old Palestinian during a raid on West Bank:

Amer Bassyouni, 15, was shot in the neck and died from his wounds as Israeli forces searched for militants in the Alamin refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus..."

"Paradise Now under fire-still according to al-falasteenyia. By means of Sugar Cubes, Ari Lives in Israel provides a Jewish perspective on the film and the petition created by supporters of Israel in which they ask to get it off the Oscars. On the other hand, another petition was created in solidarity with the Palestinians."

At 9:02 PM, Blogger loopper said...

Stumbled upon your blog by chance and thought maybe you would be interested in this one about Wafa Sultan.
This was on Al Jazeera few days ago…..


At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yo man i think i just sent you an email. joel pinsker from clark probably agree but haven't seen the movie myself...


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