Proof if any more is needed of the existence of a powerful Israel lobby in our country:
Tonight over dinner I watched the last 30 minutes of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982) on Turner Classics. I was staggered to see the 1947 transfer of Muslim and Hindu refugees at the new border between India and Pakistan portrayed on the big screen. Pitiful streams of refugees. Then the anti-Muslim riots in Calcutta. And Gandhi’s fast as he tries to will the new nations to peaceful coexistence. “For god’s sake let us embrace like brothers,” Nehru says. Gandhi tells a repentant Hindu who has killed a Muslim boy to adopt an orphaned Muslim and raise him as a Muslim. Etc.
The Nakba took place a year after the ethnic cleansing at the border regions of India and Pakistan, and you have never seen the Nakba depicted on the big screen. You have not seen the exodus of refugees from Israel and Palestine portrayed with sympathy– no, only caricatured, as they were in Borat.
And as for Gandhi’s vision of coexistence– well who has done a picture about Judah Magnes or Ah’ad Ha’am or other cultural Zionists who did not want to build a Jewish state?
And when Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner teamed up to make Munich, a film about the cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine, they were denounced by pro-Israel voices.
How is this evidence of the lobby’s role in the American discourse? Because 30 years ago Hollywood saw fit to celebrate values of liberal democracy and anticolonialism and inter-faith co-existence in a movie about a 1947 Partition. And Gandhi won 8 Oscars, because it honored modern liberal American values; the same values that have been trashed repeatedly in Israel and Palestine. But these same themes (Partition/religion/borders/refugees) are off limits in the Israel context. All we get is Exodus, a Holocaust-tinged movie about Jews shedding shtetl ways in Palestine, and getting tough….
And what dramatic material is Zionist history. Jabotinsky dying in the Borscht Belt, helping to start the lobby. The murder of his rival Chaim Arlosoroff as he walks with his wife on the beach at Tel Aviv. The dynamiting of the King David Hotel. Partition; the radio crackles thru Jewish houses. George Marshall the secretary of State tells Truman he will not vote for him if he recognizes a Jewish state. Americans run guns for the Jews. The sacking of Jaffa– rolling barrels of dynamite down the roads toward Arab houses. Deir Yassin. Ethnic cleansing. The murder of Bernadotte. The young Begin. The young Shamir. Defense Secretary James V. Forrestal dies at Bethesda Hospital, harried by Walter Winchell and the other Zionists.
Ben-Gurion’s cloud of silver hair as he imagines a Jewish majority, to be achieved how? No you have never seen the Nakba on the big screen…