“Our Boys” and the damage we do to ourselves

I need to give this topic another go, to explain to myself, what it was that affected me so personally, particularly here in America. 

Jack Engelhard

OpEds Joseph Cedar
Joseph Cedar
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

It was a lousy couple of months.

Yes, I have already written about the “Our Boys” production from Joseph Cedar and friends, and the damage it does to Israel’s image and reputation.

But I need to give it another go, to explain to readers, and to myself, what it was that affected me so personally, particularly here in America. 

Maybe it was the timing.

On or about the time the 10-part series got to running on HBO (Part 5, now playing), a film that inflates a (rare) single act of terrorism against an Arab in 2014, and casts a harsh one-dimensional spotlight on Israel altogether – that’s when there was a current 2019 spree of slayings against Israeli civilians at the hands of Palestinian Arabs, who, let’s remember, are urged to keep up the killings under Mahmoud Abbas’ pay-to-slay operation. 

Then, only days ago, came word that directly hit home; an Arab terrorist car ramming that left two Israeli teens badly hurt. and the grandmother, my dearest friend and editor, now, along with the rest of us, praying each day for their complete recovery. Another day in Israel, except when it hits you and the people you love.   

So, this was not a good time to agonize for the “plight of the Palestinians.” 

But, for art’s sake, we are summoned to understand the Arab point of view, and as we know, to understand is to justify.

Cedar himself tells us that the focus of his film is upon the Arab murder, and not about the three Israelis who were kidnapped and murdered earlier in 2014 by Arabs. 

Do we really need this? Why 2014 all over again except to give the Israelis a black eye just when anti-Semitism keeps reaching new levels, and Jews are getting beaten in Brooklyn.

The Israelis are a different breed. They know terrorism, they suffer from it as a matter of routine, and they know incitement. They hear it every day.

In the United States, it used to be different. We thought we were different, and mostly, we were. 

We seldom heard and never tolerated anti-Jewish incitements in a public way. In private, that’s your business. But in public, not okay. 

Never in America…and then along came two new members of Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and just like that, nothing is the same.

Anti-Semitism is out in the open. 

Something happened that never happened before. In the guise of a “press conference,” the two of them spent an hour, on our public airwaves, trouncing the Jewish State through one blood libel after another. This was made-for TV incitement that is frightening for the fact that it happened – from duly elected members of Congress -- and disturbing for what it portends.  

It portends a seal of approval.

Never thought we’d see the day…not that day…not that hour. You could have been in Berlin in the 1930s.

Then in the middle of that came “Our Boys,” more fuel to the flame, from Jewish filmmakers, in Israel, and therefore, a double whammy. 

When is enough, enough?

Yes, I understand drama. I write drama. I understand the need for literary license. I know that each artistic work, in my case, each novel, exists in its own universe.

So different rules apply and ordinary restraints and restrictions should not inhibit the artist. We need the freedom to express a story, warts and all.

But Israel’s story is so much larger and much more glorious than an incident that occurred five years ago. 

To focus on a snapshot and present it as the big picture is an unholy use of a filmmaker’s skills.

America deserves better from its Congressional lawmakers, and Israel deserves far better from its artistic citizens.

All this Israel bashing from both ends – how about giving it a rest?

(Yes, I know that Sasha Baron Cohen is starring in a completely more favorable treatment of the Jewish State. Excellent. Next time, I intend to be upbeat as well, given the chance.) 

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He is the author of the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” His Holocaust to Montreal memoir “Escape from Mount Moriah” has been honored from page to screen at CANNES. His Inside Journalism thriller, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” is being prepared for the movies. Contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all.” Website: www.jackengelhard.com