Is there no end to the demonization of Israel? Three recent events, three signs, force us to ask the question once again. First of all, in France, this strange "boycott" campaign that looks like it's spreading. Of course there are situations in which a boycott is justifiable. And I am the first to have advocated it when, in sum, the right of peoples to self-determination becomes the right of tyrants to determine their destiny, or that of the neighboring people. But in the case of a democracy like Israel? In the case of the sole democracy in the Middle East, the only state in the region where political differences can be solved by compromise? In the face of one of the only nations in the world that, with the miracle of a regime that, from its very birth was, in fact, a democracy has answered the timeless question as to whether one can improvise democracy, invent it out of nothing, and whether it can surge from a people who have often known only totalitarianism and tyranny? And what can one say, finally, of this collective punishment supposedly inflicted upon a country that, in its relations with its political adversary, in other words, the Palestinians a) counts a large minority of citizens willing to grant any and all concessions; b) counts a majority that has long since been converted to the two-state solution, in return for guarantees of security, and c) where there exist virtually no reasonable authorities who have not resigned themselves, whether they like it or not, to putting to rest their utopian dreams and accepting the sharing of the land. This business of a boycott, whether economic, cultural, or as applied to sports, makes no sense. Or, if it does, one shudders at the thought of the expression of such, for we are so close, here, to the most irrational, the craziest, and the most rabid of hatreds.
The second event took place in Toronto, where Tears of Gaza, a film by Vibeke Lokkeberg, Norwegian ex-model and actress converted to war documentary film making, was shown. To me, there is nothing as noble as the war documentary genre. But nothing is more difficult. And I know, having risked an attempt myself, that one can only qualify it as such if the film maker respects simple but strict rules. Probity, to begin with. What's the point of drawing tears over the supposed "massacre of civilians", even "genocide" of the war of Gaza when the Palestinians themselves estimate (as recently as this November 4th, according to the declarations of Fathi Hamad, Hamas's Minister of the Interior) that 700 combatants--I underline the word--were killed in January 2009 during this war, thus corroborating the Israeli figures?
In addition, contextualization. Has one the right to show images, dreadful like all images of war, without mentioning one word about the ideology of the masters of Gaza, their responsibility in triggering these operations, as well as their style of fighting--by obliging parents, for example, to turn their children into human shields? And then, the last requisite is the accuracy of what one shows. We showed archive footage too, in Bosna!, but most of the images shown were our own, shot by Alain Ferrari and me in Sarajevo as it was being bombed. Whereas, the crew of this film never set foot in Gaza and was content to splice together film sequences shot by cameramen under the strict surveillance of Hamas militia men. Such a film--that, unfortunately, will soon pop up at every film festival on the planet--is not a documentary but a work of propaganda. It is a film that, by satanizing Israel, is promoting not peace, but war.
And the last sign concerns, exactly, Norway, and beyond Norway, this Scandanavia I love but have had difficulty recognizing these last few years. Isn't it regrettable to learn, for example, that the country of the Oslo accords was the first, after Toronto, to greet the film as a triumph?
Apart from the film, of which one might suspect the author's nationality influenced its favorable reception, isn't it distressing to think that a book like Susan Abulhawa's Mornings in Jenin, a concentration of anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish clichés masquerading as fiction, is a best seller there, praised by most of the major media? Worse still, isn't it disquieting to learn that, in the same city where Itzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat were that close to making peace, the Israeli embassy has been forced to move because it is harassed and threatened, thus posing a "threat" to the peace and tranquillity of the residents of the upscale Parkveien neighborhood by its very presence and by the security barriers (referred to in Oslo as the 'Wailing Wall") it was obliged to set up to protect itself from the bully boys?
And what a pity, finally, to see what has happened in Sweden, next door, where twenty fascist-leaning deputies are currently sitting in the national parliament, and where a growing fringe of the left interprets the ideals of tolerance as an authorization to voice their reprobation for the very existence of a State of Jewish majority in the Middle East. And what a pity that the city of Malmö, the country's third largest, is run by a mayor whose claim to fame is that of having declared war--so he trumpets--on both antisemitism and on Zionism. Adventures in progressive dialectic. Grimaces from what was once the very face of social democracy in Europe. It is frightening.
And we are there.