Tel Aviv, Apartheid, and scenes I’d like to see


Over at the Telegraph, Uri uncovers new reasons not to rent the Lethal Weapon series. (My only caveat: I’d make "not very good" number one.)

The crux of the matter is a letter signed by Danny Glover and others protesting Toronto’s "City to City" film festival. Here is its argument:

The emphasis on ‘diversity’ in City to City is empty given the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program. Furthermore, what this description does not say is that Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population. This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries, including Canada. Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.


I now expect Glover and Jane Fonda and Wallace Shawn and other actors and artists who signed the letter to commit to this:

Every film set in New York must refer to how the Dutch removed the Lenape. There must be a scene depicting the forced Civil War conscription of the Irish, and of the violence the Irish subsequently visited upon the African Americans. And then get in the Twin Towers.

Every film set in Paris must refer to the forced exodus of Jewish children from Gare du Nord.

Every film set in Rome must reference the annihiliation of Etruscan culture.

I picked RomCom capitals. Should be fun, no?

Why, let’s run with this and order up some remakes:

Roman Holiday, with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn:

Princess Ann: I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.

Joe Bradley: All right.

Princess Ann: I don’t know how to say goodbye. I can’t think of any words.

Joe Bradley: Try Apru. Its Etruscan for April. You won’t hear it around here, of course, even in Spring. It disappeared, oh, 1,800 or so years ago. Romans wouldn’t hear of it. Thought Latin was good enough after they sacked Veii…

Princess Ann: Say, isn’t that Cary Grant?

An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron:

Lise Bouvier: Maybe Paris has a way of making people forget.

Jerry Mulligan: Paris? No. Not this city. It’s too real and too beautiful to ever let you forget anything. For instance, I remember like yesterday the sleazy little collaborator at the bakery who sold out the family of Jews in the basement across the street. Why, I can still picture little Josef and Sylvie, their terrified little punim pressed against the window aboard the train at Gare du Nord…

Lise Bouvier: Say, isn’t that Louis Jourdan?

Annie Hall, starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton:

Alvy Singer: Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.

Annie Hall: Say, isn’t that Warren Beatty?

Okay, Alvy Singer really did say that.

But you get the picture. The signatories of the letter are not merely demanding perpetual recognition of the current strife in the screening of israeli films, in considering Israel — itself utterly unreasonable — but that Israel and its filmmakers always pay for its imagined original sin.

This, of course, permanently stigmatizes a people, the Israelis. It invites demonization and dehumanization.

But, and I’m kooky this way, what offends me more is that its just plain nuts in the same way that it was nuts last month when folks in our community seemed to demand that any presidential reference to Israel include the Holocaust, the Zionist struggle and, for good measure, a nod to the development of drip irrigation and the surgical camera.

It’s like the OCDs are running the place, like list-reading sadists are standing outside our doors and bellowing their alphabetization of the universe. "IF YOU MENTION ONE THING, YOU HAVE TO MENTION EVERYTHING OR IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!!!!"

It’s like the guy who brings a gun to the health care town hall has moved in, installed 550 plasma TVs, and turned each one on to a different channel.

Ok. I’ll stop.

PS: Thanks to IMDB for the quotes.

Recommended from JTA