Posted in: Arts, Film & Culture
Published on Oct 10, 2007 by Phyllis Chesler
Palestine on the Pacific
So, there I am, sitting in what I had hoped might be an escape movie when I realized that I was watching one more extended Hollywood commercial against the war in Iraq. Alright, it's a free country for those who've got money to burn and this movie, "The Valley of Elah", was brilliantly acted by three Academy-Award winners: Tommie Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon.
War is Hell and it wounds both the victims and perpetrators; this is the film's focus. War robs human beings of both their humanity and their sanity. Soldiers and combatants become less-than-human; many can never recover from this infernal assault. What war makes people do is something they cannot easily, if ever, recover from. This is the film 's major point. At film's end, Jones hoists the American flag upside down to signify that American foreign policy and the armed forces are "upside down," screwed up, and that we need to be rescued from ourselves.
Jones plays a father who is a military man himself. He has now lost two soldier-sons: one in battle in Iraq, the other while on home leave from Iraq. In his search to understand what happened to his second son, the film shows us how war can turn young American soldiers into barbarians who, shades of Abu Graib, torture the vulnerable, even the wounded, and then turn on each other too.
By the way, those who went ballistic over Abu Graib failed to note that Iraqis were already barbaric long before America put any "boots on the ground." Normalized childhood abuse, including homosexual pederasty, keeps men very angry and renders them susceptible to tribal, national, and trans-national death-cult masterminds. Saddam's torture chambers were far, far worse than the grotesquely posed human heaps in Abu Graib but this fact has absolutely no emotional traction among left-liberal Americans.
Finally, the very same people who bring lawsuits about "Gitmo," also make movies portraying Arabs and Muslims as the persecuted good guys, and they insist that there is nothing that we can or should do about pornography or prostitution lest it interfere with privacy and First Amendment rights. Watch violent pornography, interview trafficked and prostituted women and they will tell you stories that make Abu Graib look like mere child's play.
Forgive my rant. Back to Tommie Lee Jones. At one point, Jones is telling a bedtime story to the young son of a police officer, played by Charlize Theron. He chooses to tell him about David and Goliath who fought it out in "the valley of Elah ." Fair enough. After all, such bedtimes stories are meant to turn boys into courageous men, possibly into warrior-soldiers too.
And, as he tells the long-familiar tale he adds something new. He tells the child that the Valley of Elah is in "Palestine."
Hey, Tommie Lee: There has never been a place called "Palestine," certainly not in the time when the Philistines ("Plishtim") sent out Goliath ("Galyut") to defeat the young Jew, David ("Da-veed") , in the land that was , at that time, known as Israel ("Yisrael"),"Yehuda," and "Cannan."
A country called Palestine has never existed, not in Biblical or Prophetic times, and it still does not exist today. (Not because Israel won't allow it but because the Arab League and Palestinian leaders won't allow it.)
Clearly, an increasing number of Hollywood movies no longer function merely as escape entertainment. More and more, we can detect a coded propaganda sub-text to the most escapist of movies. I have written about this before when I reviewed "Paradise," (the good guys are Palestinian suicide killers), "The Children of Men," (those who resist Orwellian tyranny in the future yell slogans in Arabic and wear Arab or Palestinian masks and keffiyahs), and "Syriana" (Arabs are good, Americans are bad–the Saudi-like Prince is about to liberate humanity when the CIA blows him up).
After the "Valley of Elah" movie ended, I said to my companion: "I wonder how much Saudi money went into this reference to "Palestine" in a movie meant for mass consumption?" I am serious because, over time, the introduction of false concepts become familiar and accepted as "true." Such deft propaganda constitutes another kind of war–one that is flying under the radar of western mindfulness, and one that neither Israel nor America have been willing to combat.
It is one thing for western mainstream media to fall for the faux-photography and doctored footage that Palestinians have been sending our way from the beginning of the 2000 Intifada they unleashed against Israel. It is another thing when westerners believe such Big Lies and start telling some whoppers of their own.
I recommend the film "The Kingdom" for a more accurate understanding of what western democracies are really up against in the Middle East.
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