Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Planet of the Arabs

A trailer-esque montage spectacle of Hollywood's relentless vilification and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims. Directed by Jacqueline Salloum, Official Selection at the 2005 SUNDANCE Film Festival. Inspired by the book "Reel Bad Arabs" by Dr. Jack Shaheen.

Note how thoroughly and deeply the Orientalist propaganda manifests itself. The clever synchronisation of skin colour, accent, religion and race. It is much worse and carlessly constructed than Spielberg's Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom for which the director/producer got slammed. The great journalist Robert Fisk wrote on 21st Oct., 2006 in the Independent, although referring to the Hollywoodized European production of O Jerusalem, loosely based on the epic by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins:

But it's not this routine bestialisation of Arabs and Muslims that concerns me. You only have to watch the Arab slave-trader film Ashanti, again filmed in Israel and starring Roger Moore and (of all people) Omar Sharif, to see Arabs portrayed, Nazi-style, as murderers, thieves and child molesters. Anti-Semitism against Arabs - who are, of course, also Semites - is par for the course in movies. And I have to admit that in O Jerusalem, the confusion and plotting of the Arab leadership - only King Abdullah of Jordan is an honourable man - is all too realistic, not least the arrogance of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini (he who shook hands with Hitler).

No, what I object to is the deliberate distortion of history, the twisting of the narrative of events to present Jews as the victims of the Israeli war of independence (6,000 dead) when in fact they were the victors, and the Arabs of Palestine - or at least that part of Palestine that became Israel in 1948 - as the cause of this war and the apparent victors (because the Jews of East Jerusalem were forced from their homes after the ceasefire) rather than the principal victims. Take, for example, the 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin, where the Stern gang murdered the Arab villagers of what is now the Jerusalem suburb of Givat Shaul, disembowelled women and threw grenades into rooms full of civilians. In O Jerusalem, the Stern gang is represented as a gang of wicked men, a kind of Jewish al-Qa'ida, hopelessly out of touch with the mainstream Israeli army of young, high-minded guerrilla fighters.

And finally I'll end with a great quote from the Danish Muslim journalist Knud Holmboe who was murdered by Italian fascists for daring to speak the truth: "In Europe one is only told that the peaceful Italians in Cyrenaica have been attacked by the bloodthirsty Arabs. Only I, who have seen it, know who the barbarians are."

No comments: