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Mar-20-2011 15:28TweetFollow @OregonNews
'Miral' Asks Questions The Israel Lobby Does Not Want You to HearJames M. Wall Salem-News.com
Miral is the story of two Palestinian women after the creation of Israel in 1948.
(CHICAGO) - In an early scene from the new motion picture Miral, the school principal Hind Husseini, tells a group of teenage Palestinian girls that “an uprising some people call an intifada has started”.
Miral whispers to a student next to her: “It means ‘stand up straight’”
Which is precisely what Miral does in this film now under attack from leading organizations in the Israel Lobby.
Miral’s mother is dead. Her father enrolls her in Jerusalem’s Dar El Tifel, a school and an orphanage begun and run by Hind Husseini, a cousin of Feisal Husseini, and a member of a prominent Palestinian family.
The film is is based on an autobiographical novel written by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian journalist.
Miral had its official US opening at the United Nations auditorium March 14. (It had earlier been shown in film festivals around the world).
Prior to the UN screening, the AJC hit the film with the tactics all too familiar to anyone or any group which schedules an event, film, or discussion that does not meet the AJC seal of approval.
An American Jewish Committee press release issued before the screening quoted AJC Director David Harris, who complained that “the Israeli Mission to the UN was not even given the minimal courtesy of being consulted in advance about the wisdom of showing such a film”.
Adam Horowitz, reporting for Mondoweiss, concluded:
As per usual, the AJC is only echoing the Israeli government, which has called the premiere “scandalous” and is protesting it within in the UN.
Miral is scheduled to open in US theaters later this month, the Lobby permitting. And even if the film gets by the Lobby, will you find it on your local mall screens?
You should. A movie about a teenage girl falling in love with a revolutionary fighter, facing torture and rebelling against both her father and her school principal? Sounds like just the sort of picture your average American teenager might want to see. It also has the advantage of being a true story a younger generation needs to see.
Will you be able to see it for yourself, and perhaps share the experience with your teenagers? (The film is now rated PG-13, after an appeal reduced it from an R rating).
Whether the film makes it to a theater near you will depend on whether the AJC, and its allies in the Israel Lobby are able to persuade, or possibly, coerce, your local theater manager to book a different film.
The Lobby campaign against Miral’s UN premiere failed. The evening was a smashing success, an outcome the AJC wanted to avoid.
The Agence France Press (AFP) reported that the screening had all the trappings of a major Hollywood red carpet opening.
Sean Penn, Robert De Niro, Josh Brolin and Steve Buscemi on Monday turned out to support award-winning American-Jewish director Julian Schnabel at the premiere of Miral, the story of two Palestinian women after the creation of Israel in 1948.
The “socialite” (a term she would not like) is Hind Hussenni, who rescued 55 children whose families were killed at Deir Yassin. They did not “escape”. They were driven in an Israeli army truck to Jerusalem where they were left on the street.
Julian Schnabel is a New York-based Jewish painter who has only recently applied his artistic eye to films. In addition to the 2007 Cannes prize winning, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, he directed Basquiat, the true story of a young American painter, a film praised by the late Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel as “one of the year’s best movies”.
His third film, Before Night Falls, was based on the true story of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, who like Basquiat, died at an early age. Javier Barden and Johnny Depp starred in the film.
In a recent interview, Schnabel, pictured here with the Rula Jebreal, was asked to contrast his view of the occupation before, and after, making Miral.
It was an epiphany. I was totally naïve, totally in the dark and I believe so many of the American Jewish population are totally in the dark. We cannot believe that a Jewish person would behave like that. It’s not the Jewish way. We have suffered so much that if anybody should understand the Palestinian problem, it should be Jewish people. I was so disappointed and ashamed at certain moments.
Schnabel and Miral have supporters in the more liberal US Jewish press. Danielle Berrin wrote in her blog for the Jewish Journal:
That the film Miral, a portrait of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen through the eyes of an orphaned Palestinian girl is earning the early ire of mainstream Jewish groups is not at all surprising.
As the lack of mainstream media coverage of Miral‘s premiere indicates, the Israel Lobby continues to intimidate American journalists and politicians, but there is also an increasing number of American Jews who are beginning to reject the one-sided rigidity of the Lobby.
One major journalist who has escaped the clutches of AIPAC is David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine for 13 years, who wrote in the magazine’s current issue that the 44-year Israeli occupation of Palestine is “illegal, inhumane, and inconsistent with Jewish values”.
Remnick was recently profiled in the Huffington Post by Jewish columnist MJ Rosenberg:
David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, is arguably the most influential Jewish American journalist. Now 50, Remnick became editor at 37 after an impressive career covering the collapse of the Soviet Union for the Washington Post.
The inevitable downfall of what Rosenberg calls “the AIPAC crowd” will arrive when more artists like Schnabel and more journalists like Remnick start their own journey to explore why a 44 year Occupation of an entire population has been tolerated by the American government.
In his interview with Deadline: New York, Schnabel describes his journey of discovery.
I didn’t understand the implications at the beginning of this journey. I never make a movie to illustrate what I already knew, I make a movie to find out about my subject, whether it’s discovering Cuba by making Before Night Falls or learning about locked-in syndrome making The Diving Bell And The Butterfly. I won a Sloan Award for science. I don’t know a damn thing about science but I know how to ask questions.
For a preview of the movie Miral, click below. And then tell your local theater you want to see the film.