Paradise Now



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Academy of Fools

By Shea Hecht

A few short weeks ago a disgruntled female postal worker in Goleta, California shot six innocent former co-workers to death and then went on to commit suicide. As I listened to the news I heard sympathy for the victims and their families in the tones and voices of the newscasters. None of them felt they must excuse the actions of the murderer. Whatever her gripes were, no broadcaster was inconsiderate enough to explain away or apologize for the murderers actions. To imply such would have been insensitive to the families of the victims and given twisted justification for the ugly act of indiscriminate and inexcusable violence.

Yet on the very day that six people were killed by a suicide bomber in Israel, the European Oscar was bestowed on Paradise Now, a film that portrays suicide bombers as “ordinary human beings with feelings.”

Paradise Now, an entry to the world stage from "Palestine" - details the twisted story of two attractive young friends that grapple with the issue of a suicide bombing. Add a girl friend to the mix and you have yourself a very compelling and touching story. The film shows the would-be murderers drinking tea at work, playing and quarreling with siblings at home, having mundane conversation with family just hours before they’re chosen by a militant group to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel.

This depiction of the everyday life of the two men is to demonstrate that the suicide bombers are “just like everyone else” with difficult decisions to be made in life. The ethical conflict centers around the suicide bombers and their ability to gather the courage to bomb a civilian bus, instead of the loss of lives of the passengers who are their intended victims.

Not only did Nazareth-born, Dutch-resident director Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now win the European Oscar, it has earned a whole slew of other trophies. It won the Golden Globe award for best foreign film, the Audience Prize and Best Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival. Additionally, the film, which is distributed in the United States by Warner Independent Pictures, opened in New York and Los Angeles a few weeks ago to glowing reviews in The New York Times, and Abu-Assad, its director, was featured in interviews on NPR and in the Los Angeles Times. It won an Amnesty International Award, a Blue Angel for best European film and is now Palestine’s official entry for the Academy Awards.

How can so many awards go to a film, based on real life scenario, that promotes murderers and glorifies them as heroes? Would the USA give such high honor to a film showing Osama bin Laden as the hero as he grapples with the courage it takes to give up Muslim lives for the infidels in the Twin Towers? Would they appreciate a documentary on the moral dilemma of men who were thinking of blowing up England’s underground? Is there nobody in the film industry with a conscience?

Paradise Now is simply mass brainwashing justifying the ugly actions of terrorists. It certainly did not deserve the approval and absolution it got by receiving a host of awards. I would think that the bombings in England and Bali and Turkey and the violence in France and currently against other European countries would make people understand that there can be no justification, excuses or sympathy for those who perpetrate inhuman terrorist acts.

The victims of suicide bombings deserve the same sympathy that the victims of the post office murderer received. Just as we innately understand that to glorify the post office murderer would be insensitive at best and showing silent complicity with the murderer at worst, we should see the same for the Israeli victims of terror.

Click here: Revoke the "Paradise Now" Oscar Nomination Petition


from the March 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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