A featured speaker at a pro-Israel event in Sweden Sunday was a young Irish filmmaker who offered some fascinating insights about Israel and the Jewish people, following his own experiences in creating a documentary titled “40 Shades of Gray.”
Nicky Larkin told the audience that in screening his film in different parts of the world, he was “completely devastated” when some of the most anti-Israeli reactions he received came from Jews.
“My interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict was sparked in late 2010, early 2011, with Operation Cast Lead,” he related. “Operation Cast Lead, in the Irish media, was painted as an absolute genocide. Very black and white news reporting. So I wanted to go see for myself. I wanted to go and see, were the Israelis as nasty as they were being painted as being in the paper?
Larkin applied for funding from the Irish Arts Council and spent 8 weeks in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Reality turned out to be completely different from what he imagined. The Jews, he decided, were not the bad guys in the conflict. When the film came out a year ago, he said, it was “jumped on” as being slanted toward Israel.
“Obviously I was employed by Mossad and getting all the Jew gold and I was completely in the pocket of the Israeli embassy,” he said sarcastically.
To promote the documentary, Larkin wrote an article about the film for an Irish newspaper. To his surprise, some of the reactions were supportive. “I mean, I expected all of the hate mail and the threats and the emails about dead children's blood on your hands and all this kind of thing I was getting every day, but what I didn't expect was the support from Irish people and it was really encouraging. The one thing that was disappointing was that all of the abuse and all of the hatred was very public, all of the support was very private.”
“I think sometimes, the worst enemy of Israel can be the Jews themselves,” he added somewhat sadly. “In the process of promoting the film, I went around screening it in different places, I was invited to Canada, to show the film. I did three screenings in Canada. The more Jewish the audience, the more they hated the film. I just felt completely devastated really, after having taken all this abuse in Ireland, having my head cut off by the people I was trying to stick up for.”
Larkin also had criticism for “the hardcore right wing Jews,” who he said should come to Israel and see that while it is a democracy, it is not the utopia they imagine. In addition, he said that he encountered “incredibly racist” statements regarding Israel's African infiltrator population, when he mentioned the subject to Canadian Jews. “People need go to Israel, to learn realities of day to day life in Israel, not what they think it is is or what's on the news,” he summed up.
Larkin had been invited to address the event by the event's sponsor, WZO’s Department for Activities in Israel and Countering Antisemitism. His film was screened at the gathering.