Thursday, January 20, 2005

French Filmaker
Tells the Truth About Israel

Why don't we do a little "dog bites man" and report some positive news on the French today. How's that? French filmaker Pierre Rehov has produced seven documentaries, over the past four years, which have detailed Israel and it's relations with the Palestinians. The kicker here is, he tells the truth. From Alyssa Lappen, via Front Page Magazine:

Six months ago, filmmaker Pierre Rehov sat in an Israeli jail, interviewing a 16-year-old Palestinian. The boy wanted to be a martyr, he told Rehov, because "the Jews killed the prophet Mohammed." Told that this is not in the Koran, the illiterate boy insisted that it was. He wanted nothing but to die in the act of murdering others.
Rehov's forthcoming film, Suicide Killers, will be the seventh in a series of documentaries on Israel produced since 2000. In that year, on September 30, Rehov flipped on the television at his home in France and saw photographs of young Mohammed Al Durrah. As an experienced filmmaker, Rehov recalls, he realized instantly that "news" of the child’s death at the hands of Israeli soldiers in Gaza had been faked.
He recognized in the Al Durrah story traits of the false charges leveled against Jews throughout history. In 2000, Rehov had just finished researching a book project on a 12th-century blood libel -- one of the first ever -- against the Jews. In March 1144, a tanner's apprentice named William was found murdered in Norwich, England. Blame landed on the Jewish people. On Passover, it was rumored, Jews seized Christian children and drained their blood to bake in matzo (unleavened Passover bread).
The frequency of such charges against the Jews increased throughout medieval times. In the Islamic world, too, blood libels sparked anti-Semitism, most notably in Damascus in 1840. Scholars like Jacques Ellul believe that such legends actually originated in Islam and passed to Europe during the Crusades. The West in our time largely rejects blood libel as myth, yet it remains a fixture in Islamic societies.
"I got into films because of Mohammed Al Durrah," Rehov said this week, on the eve of a three-night New York City film festival that drew more than 600 spectators and generated dozens of news articles on the French filmmaker.
Rehov's newest film explores the motivations of suicide killers. "I interviewed a few cases of survivors of terror -- young, beautiful girls. But the deeper I got into the film, the more I realized that I did not want to make a film like everyone else," he says now. "This will not be a film about how you build a new life. What every one wanted to talk about," -- and the thing that ultimately captivated Rehov as well -- "was the smile and the behavior of the terrorist before he blew himself up. I wanted to be in him; I wanted to know what he feels the second before detonating."
So Rehov has interviewed psychologists, political analysts, religious scholars and others to discuss the psychopathology of the bombers. Unexpectedly, he found that sexuality has a great deal to do with it. "In their society, young men are forbidden to have a real relationship with a woman. So when you ask them what they are going to become, they are not trying to become engineers, doctors or professionals. Their entire society believes that a man becomes a hero by blowing himself up. They believe that the next second, they are in heaven, surrounded by women. It is pure sexual fantasy."
When he began working on Suicide Killers, Rehov fought an uphill battle. He first sued the TV station France 2, along with Talal Abu Rahmah, the reporter who had managed the Al Durrah coverage. Rahmah's uncle had helped to write the Palestine Liberation Organization Charter, Rehov noted. The French court threw out Rehov’s lawsuit within six weeks.
Undaunted, Rehov decided next to fight fire with fire. If Arab Palestinians and the global media could use imagery so effectively to malign Israel, Rehov could use the same medium to tell a different side of the story. He produced The War of Images, a documentary exposing the level of daily incitement to hatred in Palestinian Authority television and other media. The low-budget film was completed in six weeks, and it quickly sold more than 50,000 copies worldwide.
Next came Rehov’s two-part film, Holy Land: Christians in Peril, and The Trojan Horse. The former described the diminution of Christians in the Arab world from 10% of the population to less than 2% now, and showed the ways in which Christians have been forced out of traditionally Christian towns like Bethlehem and Nazareth. The film’s second part exposed the early planning of Yasser Arafat's Al Aksa war before and during Camp David II. Rehov sold both films through, which has distributed tens of thousands of copies.

To read the rest of the article, click here.