An Open Letter to Harvey Weinstein
Come along Harvey, into the bedroom where a father and his three month old daughter, Hadas, were fast asleep. It can be hard to get a 3 month old baby to fall asleep. Her father must had quite a time of it that night. Babies may not have language, but they do have fears. They are afraid of the strange new world they were born into. And they need parents to comfort them and assure them that everything will be alright. That they are loved and protected. When Rabbi Fogel finally got his little baby daughter to sleep, she must have felt safe with her father there. The man who would have taught her about life. Who would have done his best to protect her. And the man whose throat was slashed in his sleep along with his child's.
Tell me Harvey, do you know what goes through a three month old baby's mind when her throat is being slashed? You can't make a movie about it and you wouldn't it if you could. Movies are complex stories. The characters change and grow. They become someone else. A three month old baby having her throat cut will never become anyone else. She is fixed in that moment of horror and pain. Dying without knowing why. Only that her parents couldn't protect her. If you were going to make a movie about this scene, it would be about the killers. You would show their past and explain their actions. Surely an Israeli soldier stepped on their toe once or blew up their house. Stretch it out over two hours and you can justify anything. Even the knife being drawn across Hadas' throat. That is the magic of cinema. But to three month old Hadas, there is no context. The movie of her life ended the night you were hard at work promoting yours.
The mother had been in the bathroom while the bloody work took place. A small moment of peace while her children slept. She didn't let them cut her throat, the way they had that of her husband and her baby daughter. Instead she fought them. They had to stab her to death. If you ever make a movie about these particular terrorists, be sure to emphasize how hard it is to stab a mother to death. She will fight for her children. And the terrorists will have to work to kill her. You should swoop the camera down sympathetically on their sweating faces as they do the hard work of murdering her.
From there they went on to murder 11 year old Yoav who was reading in bed. Next was 3 year old Elad. Why stab a 3 year old boy twice in the heart? That is the question, Harvey. I understand once. Once is certainly enough to kill any 3 year old. But twice? Maybe it was that each killer wanted a turn and a share of the glory of murdering a toddler. They had already murdered three children and their parents, but the laws of Islam can be arcane sometimes. Is it possible then that the Shaheed (the martyr) will not enter paradise unless he murders a 3 year old too. Maybe there are more virgins waiting in paradise for each child killed. Murder a child and trade his body in for more virgins. Or maybe it is that the brave Jihadists who climb through living room windows and cut the throats of children in their sleep wanted to feel the violence of that blow. The thrill of the knife slamming home into a child's heart. Or maybe it is that Elad's heart was strong enough that even two adult Muslim terrorists had to stab twice to kill him.
I would like to think so.
Your article promoting Miral urges that 'understanding the "other" requires us to step out of our comfort zones'. Step now out of your comfort zone. And understand the other. I don't mean the murderers themselves. I think you understand them a little too well. If you didn't understand them at all, Miral would be lying on a back shelf somewhere. I urge you to understand your own 'Other', not those who kill in the name of Islamic terrorism, but those who die of it. Who die and yet refuse to give in. Who cling to their tiny patch of land, more than you would ever cling to your Connecticut estate. See the 'Other' in murdered family beneath your regard.
Family members have released photos of their children lying in their blood, but I don't think you will want to see them. They are too far outside your comfort zone. There is plenty of blood and gore in your movies, but this is different. These are the bodies of inconvenient children. Their deaths don't fit into your ideological framework. You know quite well that Muslims are good people, and Jews who live on land claimed by the Muslims, are bad people. If they are murdered it is inconvenient because it retards the peace process. The process by which terrorists climb through living room windows and slash the throats of children. Until whole families are at peace.
The Fogel family is at peace now, for the most part. They have found the only form of peace that the terrorist gangs have ever delivered, in return for land, money, weapons and international legitimacy. Not the entire family of course. Three children survived. Three settlers. Three obstacles to peace.
Wait here while she goes to get her neighbor. She doesn't know that anything is wrong yet, but she is about to find out. And meanwhile you can stay and observe. Listen to her pounding heart, to her thoughts as she reassures herself that everything is alright. That her parents had a sudden invitation to an engagement and left in a hurry without leaving a message. The sort of things we tell ourselves when we know something terrible has happened. It is a pleasant night. While we stand here, the terrorists are slipping away to a nearby Arab village. From there it will become very difficult to track them. While that twelve year old girl stands waiting for Rabbi Cohen to get his gun, they are whooping on a dark road somewhere. Their mission was a success. A mission for which they have been training all their lives. Not this specific night of butchery, but the idea of it.
When the Peace Process allowed Arafat to take over the educational system of Gaza and the West Bank, the schools there have focused on one subject. Martyrdom. In this country, that is a fancy word for killing Jews. The Nazis called it, 'Die Endlosung". But the Muslims call it "Martyrdom" because they are not as good at it. When you fight war after war, and lose hundreds of tanks trying to drive the Jews into the sea, then you must resort to climbing through living room windows and hoping that no one hears you slashing a baby's throat in the dark. And if they do, they might come and kill you. And then you will be a martyr, climbing to paradise on a ladder of murdered children.
I don't mean you, Harvey, of course. You are not the man who climbs through windows and slashes throats. You are the man who is marketing a movie about terrorists. Not the bad kind of terrorists who murder children in their sleep. It would be hard to empathize with that. No, your terrorists are the good kind of terrorists. Hurt and misunderstood. Forced into it by their circumstances. The balance of suffering always on their side. Even when they kill, they are still the victims. While you were hard at work pitching Miral, the real terrorists were hard at working murdering a family. That is the difference between entertainment and reality. It is the difference between what you do and what they do. It is not so different. You trade in lies. They trade in murder.
What shall we do while we stand here waiting for that girl to get her neighbor and his gun. You are a Hollywood magnate, so why don't we watch some television. Not any of your stuff, but try some of the local programming. Maybe something will catch your eye that you can develop. How about this show from Palestinian Authority television, "The Prophet says: 'You shall fight the Jews and kill them, until the tree and the stone will speak and say... 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah - there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'" It is exciting stuff, isn't it. The killers certainly thought so, and while no rocks or trees spoke to them, the television programming paid for by American money did.
These are not the words of some mad lunatic, or a tiny extremist minority, but of the Sahih Bukhari, the second holiest book of Islam. You denounced Congressman King for making inflammatory statements about Islam, but what of the inflammatory statements of the Sahih Bukhari? Denouncing a Republican congressman is easy, but Islamic holy books aren't safe to tweak. Just ask Salman Rushdie or Molly Norris, if you can find either of them. Or ask Theo Van Gogh, if you can use a Ouija board. But you're getting bored. I know. These are technical things. And all the Muslims you know are very good people. So what if their belief calls for the genocide of the Jewish people. You still have fun hanging out with them at parties. And the only people who think there is anything wrong with Islam are crazy right-wingers who are just like McCarthy, and a child whose throat is being cut by a Muslim with a knife who thinks that dead Jewish children are his ticket to heaven.
candies and sweets are being handed out to celebrate the courageous murder of a baby. A baby who will never grow up even enough to taste a candy. Cries of "Allah Akhbar" fill the air. But who is this Muslim deity greater than, a 3 month old baby whom his followers had to murder in the dark. What a mighty deity this Allah's worshipers must think he is, that he cannot even murder babies himself, but must rely on his cowardly followers to sneak into their homes and cut their throats. Jackals serving a jackal headed god. The old Anubis with his black grin. The joke as always on his followers, trying to bargain for their afterlife, with death clutched in their hands.
Out here in the night, the iron smell of blood in the air, in front of a house smaller than your office bathroom-- this isn't your kind of place. I know. But it is real. That 12 year old girl screaming, she's real too. The two and a half year old screaming for his father, his clothes drenched in blood. He is very real too. There is no makeup here. No sets. No one will yell cut. The movie will never end. It has never ended for thousands of years. While you settled into a lavish life at your Westport estate, they go on living and dying here. No matter what the diplomats decide, or the UN proclaims or the EU demands or the US pressures, no matter how many movies you release, they will go on dying. That is the ugly and unbearable truth here.
While they die, you have scored a coup. Your propaganda flick, Miral, will be the first movie screened in the UN General Assembly's main hall. No word on whether it will be part of a double feature with Der Ewige Jude. And if the scene feels a little too much like the conclusion of your own studio's Inglourious Basterds, with all the elite lining up to attend the showing of an anti-semitic propaganda flick, then that's just irony. An irony you are unaware of, because surely you have nothing in common with the toadish little men who catered to the bigoted appetites of the Third Reich. Nor does a UN which in the midst of civil war in Libya and a nuclear meltdown in Japan finds it more important to stage a showing of a movie whose only real purpose for existing is to further demonize Israel, have anything in common with the leadership of the Third Reich, which diverted trains carrying war materials to drive more Jews to the death camps, even as Berlin burned.
"Unless the Palestinian narrative is finally understood and acknowledged by Israelis and their American supporters, there will never be peace in the Holy Land," you say. As if peace were in your hands to give. But we understand the Palestinian narrative all too well. The real one and the fake one. We know the olive groves, the bulldozers and the keys. And we also know the terrorist gangs trained by Islamic fanatics and Socialist dictators to seize the land and murder its inhabitants. The gangs whom Moscow gave a nationalist gloss calling them the Palestinian people, the smirking thugs on whom President Clinton and European leaders bestowed legitimacy and billions of dollars. The gangs who have remained terrorists, thieves and rapists, fanatical killers when stoked with enough hashish, no matter how much people like you are willing to embrace and retell their narrative. Their lies.
If you want to know the real narrative, then put Miral on a shelf and ask where the Christians of the region have gone. Where have the Zoroastrians gone? Why are there so few left? The answer would make for a much better movie, but it is not a movie that you will ever make. It is not a movie that any theater would ever show. It is a story of bigotry and genocide. It is an old story and a new one. You can find its oldest chapters in the Koran, along with the graves of the Jews of what is today Saudi Arabia. Its latest chapters are being written in Europe, where Jews once again flee European cities, not from men in uniforms, but in long robes. And unless that narrative is understood, there will be no peace in the Holy Land, or anywhere else.
I know that none of this will move you. Controversy is your bread and butter. The more you hear cries of pain, the more you count the cash. Miral will make you money. Just as Der Ewige Jude made money. And you will protest that there is no comparison between the two. Miral is only giving the Palestinian narrative, just as Der Ewige Jude gave the Aryan narrative. It is more subtle, I'm sure. The audiences you count on are liberal and sophisticated. They won't be taken in by gutter propaganda. A hint of controversy ads savor to their intellectual appetites. They are eager to confront the other in themselves. That part of them which would kill and maim with enough justification. The shadow side of their hearts which their minds use to explain the actions of men who burst through living room windows to slash children's throats.
You will dismiss this as, what you describe in your article, being, "smeared by those who insist on reducing this conflict to us vs. them." So stand outside while Rabbi Cohen walks with his gun, a twelve year old by his side, her heart beating almost as hard as her little brother's did when the knife came down on it, and wait while she goes inside. And then answer her this, if you truly believe in not reducing the conflict to 'Us vs Them' then why are you telling the story of Miral and not her story?
You have chosen a side. Our 'Them' is your 'Us'. Soon that girl will leave the house again, along with her younger brothers. Three children who somehow survived. Look her over carefully. She is your 'Other'. The story you do not want to hear. The face you do not want to see. She survived tonight. So did two of her brothers. Next time they might not. No movie is needed to tell her story. Her life is her story. Her survival a testament.
The Prime Minister of Israel and the Knesset Speaker have vowed revenge for this attack. Their revenge is of a wholly different brand that that of the Palestinian Authority terrorists. "We will live, we will continue to build and to plant". So too the surviving Fogel children will go on living. They will be 'settlers', obstacles to the terrorist peace that slits children's throats at night. And we know which the world hates more, the builders or the throat slitters. Even know as children are being lowered into the earth, the world fumes at this particular Hebraic vengeance. Its constructive perversity. To build in the face of destruction. To defy death, not with murder but with life.
This has always been our revenge. To survive. Not yours, Harvey. You are the second son at the Passover Seder. The one left behind in Egypt. The one we forget about as the generations march on. Whose name turns to dust and blows away on the wind. That is our revenge on you, but it is you who carry it out. Who go in search of the 'other' and find nothing there but the hole inside yourself.
Roll the projector in the UN General Assembly. Beam at the compliments for your willingness to distribute a movie whose inherent bias justifies the murder of Jews. And yet in that small town so hated by the world, men and women will rise with the sun, carrying their guns and their determination. Before them lies the future, behind you the past. They live in the answer to the mystery. Those children are dead, yet they live. They died in pain and horror, yet they live. They are buried now, yet they live.
And in the town of Ithamar, named after one of his ancestors from thousands of years ago, Rabbi Cohen will walk back to his own home, and hug his own children. And he will stand watch over them. While the UN cheers your movie, he will go on carrying his gun and looking after his own land, though the world hates him for it. He is a free man born of a free nation. And when he sits down at his Passover table to thank his G-d for his freedom and his land, he will be free as few are. As you with all your wealth can never imagine. And though he will one day die, like Ithamar and those children, he will live forever. Go now, Harvey. This is no place for you to be. It is his home. It is his land. Not Miral's and not yours. Go.