Op-Ed: Bereaved Parents' Letter to the Oscar Awards Judges
To the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
A Message from Bereaved Parents and Other Members of the Almagor Terror Victims Association of Israel
Please be aware that the two Israeli films under consideration for the Oscar for documentary film create a false impression of the character of the State of Israel. In point of fact, these are political films whose messages come very specifically from the far left of the political spectrum. The two films, especially "Five Broken Cameras", do an injustice to Israel and to the security forces tasked with protecting its citizens against terrorism.
"Five Broken Cameras" explores the construction of the security fence at Bil'in strictly from the Palestinian perspective. At the end of this letter is a reaction to the film by our member Yossi Tzur, an activist from the community of Israeli parents bereaved by terrorism, whose son Blondy was murdered in a terrorist attack on Haifa.
With regard to "The Gatekeepers": the film does in fact let six former Shin Bet heads speak, but its immoral conclusion—that one should negotiate with terrorists and that it is possible to come to an agreement with them—is offensive.
Were you aware that last weekend the creator of "The Gatekeepers" published an interview with Yuval Diskin, one of the former Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) heads, in an article in the anti-Netanyahu and leftist Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, which he used to personally attack the prime minister and defense minister of Israel for what he calls inappropriate behavior?
After a careful review of the comments made by Diskin, a star of the film, which contain exaggerated attacks on and unhidden personal enmity for PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak, we reached the conclusion that what he said was geared toward boosting what he had in store for the second part of the interview: a political attack on the direction of Israeli policy in security-related matters, delivered as part and parcel of the election-season political campaign, as interviewee Diskin hints himself.
It should be noted that we also are aware that the creator of the film attacks Israeli security policy in various other forums.
Again, the conclusion that this film reaches and offers for your consideration throughout the interviews is characteristic specifically of parties on the far left in Israel.
It is no coincidence that Knesset Member Galon, of the extreme-left Meretz party, has praised the film, saying that this is a movie that “churns the insides”with regard to the so-called “occupation.”
As terror victims, we are of the view that one must not compromise with terrorism, whether practically or, as the film would have it, morally. Even though it contains interviews with six Shin Bet heads, its conclusion—that it is appropriate to compromise with terrorists—is a political message.
In summary, if you were to give an award to one of these films, you would be giving an award to:
1. "The Gatekeepers", a politically-motivated and one-sided film attacking the current Israeli policy of remaining in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) despite the historical and security reasons for doing so, or
2. "Five Broken Cameras", a film meant to incite, that demonizes the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and contains anti-Semitic elements.
We request that you take our position into account when judging the material.
As noted,we have added a letter by our member Yossi Tzur, who lost his son in a terrorist attack on Haifa.
Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor
Almagor Terror Victims Association
Dr. Aryeh Bachrach
Chairman, Bereaved Parents Forum
Almagor Terror Victims Association
I had a feeling of déjà vu today when an article about two Israeli films nominated for an Oscar—"The Gatekeepers" and "Five Broken Cameras"—threw me violently back to 2005, when an Oscar nomination went to the European-Palestinian co-production Paradise Now, a film that follows two suicide bombers over the course of the final hours before they perpetrate their attack, and one of the worst propaganda films that I have ever seen: a film that seeks to give humanity to the worst sort of murderers.
In 2005, Israel was experiencing a wave of suicide bombings by Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The national trauma was still fresh, and the movie caused me undescribable anxiety. Just as Israel was being rocked by the worst terrorist attacks in its history, a film was released in praise of suicide murderers, and it was even nominated for an Oscar. Had the world gone mad?
Today I relived that moment. I again felt as if the world had gone mad.
"Five Broken Cameras" describes the weekly demonstrations in Bil'in. The crux of the film is the issue of the security fence. Today, in 2013, it is clear to all, including leftists, that the fence saves lives. If during the years 2000 to 2005 there had been a fence where Arab terrorists were crossing every day to murder Israelis, then their victims would still be among us today. The issue of the fence went to the Supreme Court and emerged from it. The fence was corrected. Part of it was dismantled. The route was changed. Anyone who had an opinion was allowed to voice it.
However, a group of anarchists, including some professionals who come to Israel from abroad just to sow anarchy, come to Bil'in every week to protest, to challenge the rule of law, to create provocations in the hope that a soldier or police officer will lose his temper. Stationed alongside the professional anarchists are the professional documenters with cameras donated by leftist organizations, sworn enemies of Israel, whose aim is to portray the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces as violent and out of control. The directors direct, the anarchists act, and the photographers film.
And now, in another stage in their assault on Israel, the rule of law and the security forces, they have presented the rotten fruits of their labors, this movie that has been nominated for an Oscar nomination.
A victory would serve to legitimize the positions of these anti-Israel anarchists and their counterparts on the Israeli far left.
"The Gatekeepers", the second film that was nominated, is even more terrible in my opinion. Six former heads of the Shin Bet are featured speaking about the Shin Bet and its work, but the movie’s conclusion is that Israel has a deliberate policy of avoiding negotiations and this policy will bring on another “intifada”—again, a message of radical leftist organizations in Israel and parties on the far left of Israeli politics.
For the sake of full disclosure, I have not seen the entire movie, but the parts that I did see make me suspect that it was edited very carefully to put the director's words in the mouths of these men who performed so admirably in Israel's war against terrorist organizations. The Shin Bet heads, as representatives of the establishment, give the movie and its conclusions a priori credibility. It is a pity that men who did such important work, regardless of their personal political views, allowed themselves to be used to attack the State of Israel.
In its review of the movie, one Internet site that is not known for rightist views commented that "Dror Moreh squeezed his material out of six heads of the Shin Bet" and "the movie manages to push even the greatest security officers a little to the left."
It is a matter of consensus that both of these films showcase extreme leftist and anti-Israel positions, and will be used to feed the well-greased international propaganda machine funded by groups that have an interest in bashing Israel at every opportunity. I am sorry that the films have been embraced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose political leanings, seen in the recent elections in the US, are well know and tend toward the left.
The Oscar nominations are presented in the media as an Israeli achievement, but I am afraid that the nominations—and certainly an Oscar—can only be damaging to Israel. A winning film would be screened all over the world, showing not the reality of the situation, but what the movie producers want to show. The State of Israel will be the loser.
I do not understand what makes a film with such a pronounced leftist agenda so attractive. Would a film about the Palestinian education system and its anti-Semitic incitement have a chance? What about a movie about the commemorative sites that the Palestinian Authority builds in honor of mass murderers?
I assume that if a courageous producer were to come out with a movie about the Palestinian education system or the glorification of shahids (terrorists) by the Palestinian Authority, he would find himself attacked on all sides by the same leftist organizations that are going out of their way to praise the movies that have been nominated, in the best case accused of being a rightist, more likely excoriated for incitement and seeking to harm the Palestinian Authority and its leaders.
What the left does every day with impunity, sane litte Israel, with its will to live, cannot even dream of doing.
Translated from Hebrew by David B. Greenberg