Yossi Zur, whose 16-year-son Asaf was killed by a suicide bomber, was outraged to find out that the Palestinian movie “Paradise Now” was nominated for an Academy Award. The film, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the year, follows the path of two young Palestinians from their decision to become suicide bombers to the moment one of them boards a crowded Tel Aviv bus. He has started an appeal to revoke the nomination, which has garnered 24,000 signatures thus far.
He asks, “What exactly makes ‘Paradise Now’ worthy of such a prestigious nomination? At a time when Hamas, a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of Israel, has won a landslide victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, and Iran’s president has stated his desire to ‘wipe Israel off the map,’ what sort of message would an Academy Award triumph send to more than 1 billion viewers around the world?”
I can feel the father’s pain. (see my conclusions on a previous essay of mine about torture here .
That question is something which really bothers me, because it gives me a glimpse into the inner barbarian and animal that resides inside of me. If I was the father of the kidnapped child, I can even see myself as the torturer. One of the reasons why I empathized with Mel Gibson’s film Ransom, in which he refuses to pay the ransom for his kidnapped child and uses the ransom money to put in a bounty on the kidnapper’s head.
When Mel Gibson finally kills the kidnapper in the movie, I punched the air and yelled, “YES!” That’s a primal reaction and I have to regretfully inform you that I wouldn’t have sat back and waited. I would have been out hunting as well.
But that is personal; civilization means that we have to overlook the personal pain and stop vigilante justice. Let the state take care of revenge and retribution. That said, terrorism is a tough one definitely. This film talks about the Palestinian suicide bombing.
I know about this film, have read about the maker and I know about the feelings of the suicide bombers. But herein lies the issue. Who and how do we balance the rights of the victim? Who is really the victim? The suicide bomber can be said to be the victim of Israeli aggression, while the son was the victim of the suicide bomber and the father turns out to be the victim of the film which glorifies the son’s killers.
Difficult question. The UK recently passed a law that makes glorification of terrorism a punishable offence. If this film was made/shown in the UK, the director could be chucked into jail.
We have had many a case in which it was clear that young men and women were swayed to committing illegal and terrorist acts based upon watching films. We have seen that evidence across a vast swathe of the world, not only in India and the UK.
Is that wrong? Depends on where you are coming from, but at end of the day, if you are in the UK, you are wrong. Period. That’s what democracies say and do. Compare this with sexual imagery. Who draws the line? Under 18 sexual images is pedophilia but there are states where you can marry at 14. In the UK, you cannot show erect male genitalia but everything else goes.
In Saudi Arabia, you may get your head chopped off and in India, you will get locked up even if you show intercourse.
Life imitates art which imitates life. In my opinion, this film crosses the line and as the example shows, a balanced view is what is required. Mind you, Munich was an attempt to show the flip side, and look at how that film was treated.
The petition, which contains more than 24,000 signatures, can be found at here.
This article originally appeared at Desicritics.org, a Blogcritics.org network site, providing news and information on media, culture, politics, sports, etc. with a South Asian focus. Visit Desicritics.org for more fine stuff.