Posted in: Anti-Semitism, Jihad & Terrorism
Published on Apr 01, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler
Pierre Rehov: The Lion in Exile
Pierre Rehov, a nom de guerre is, indeed, a resistance fighter; he resists the Islamist propaganda wars against Israel, the Jews, and the West by making films which document the truth. Many people will forever remember the awful Intifada of 2000, which preceded 9/11 by a year and which still continues to this day, through Rehov's many films about it.
He is the documentarian of the Al-Aqsa Intifada; the filmmaker who showed us what Jenin was really about (The Road to Jenin), and who the suicide killers really are (Suicide Killers). Early on, in The Silent Exodus, Rehov also documented the story of Arab and North African Jews who were forced to flee their homelands. This is the largest and largely forgotten refugee "narrative" of the Muslim Middle East. It is also a film which Rehov has continued to improve and expand. And, in The Trojan Horse/Holy Land: Christians in Peril, he documents the persecution of Christians in the Islamist Middle East.
But who is Pierre Rehov?
Rehov is a North African (Algerian) Jew: warm, serious, playful, seductive, expressive, sophisticated, secular—and a very active participant in the new Great Game of Barbarism versus Civilization, Big Lies versus the Truth. He is not just an armchair observer. His weapon is his camera which he takes with him into dangerous war zones. He not only went into Gaza and the West Bank under perilous circumstances; most recently, he was embedded in the United States Cavalry in Baghdad and Dura. A new film, Proliferation. Iraq. Why Now? will be out soon.
Phyllis and Pierre in NYC. March 2009
I have known Rehov for five years now and am proud to have championed his documentaries by posting them on my website in 2004 HERE and HERE. At the time, more than 30,000 people viewed two of his films in five weeks. Now, thankfully, his many films are available for sale at his own website, HERE and have been shown in many film festivals. He has also begun to post short video clips on YouTube HERE. Rehov has also been interviewed widely on television both in America and abroad.
Last month, I unexpectedly ran into Pierre at the Hudson Institute luncheon for Geert Wilders. There he was—as warm and as handsome as ever and, as we stood and talked, Israeli author and counter terrorism expert, Anat Berko, suddenly sailed into view—the very person whom I was supposed to see later that day. Anat and Pierre knew each other from their work against terrorism, and so we all laughed about the small world phenomenon, then lingered on over a long cup of coffee.
I asked Pierre how long he would be visiting the States. His answer startled me. He said that he was here to stay, for good, that he was here with his daughter, his girlfriend, and his dog, and that he expects his son to soon join them. Pierre said that he could no longer live in Paris, that the very air there had become poisoned with anti-Israel sentiment, that his pro-Israel activism had led to unending legal and financial problems for himself and for other pro-Israel activists. However, other, more personal reasons, had led to this, his latest and perhaps unending exile. I pressed him. All he would say was:
"Daily life in Paris, France is simply unacceptable. The entire country has been invaded by six to ten million Muslims who do not want to adapt. The French non-Jews are scared, they are happy to sacrifice their Jews and all of Israel if it means they will be safe."
I asked Pierre to come and see me. The first time he came, I took him along to celebrate Purim at my synagogue and made it a point to introduce him to some other French-speaking people. To my surprise, Pierre said, in a friendly but forceful tone that he "no longer wishes to speak in French." He insisted on speaking English-only. Since Pierre also publishes novels in French, I could only wonder: What in God's name could have happened that would have led to his banishing his native language from his own mouth? I asked Pierre to return for a longer interview. Here is a portrait of a Bon Vivant Fighter in Exile. As he says: "I am just a crazy guy who found a way to have fun in (espousing) my cause."
Pierre Rehov grew up in Algeria where he was seen, not as a fellow Algerian, (his ancestors had lived there for 500 years), but rather as a "hated" Frenchman and Jew. When he was seven or eight years old, Pierre saw eleven of his classmates blown up in a Muslim terrorist attack. He saw more people blown up in a café. And then, Pierre personally witnessed a Muslim pogrom against Jews which was up-close-and-personal. Pierre was spared, some of his relatives were not. He left Algeria in 1961, "together with 250,000 other Jews who were also expelled." Of course, the French were kicked out too—as were many of the Algerians who had helped the French.
Nougat, Phyllis, and Pierre in NYC. March 2009
Pierre's family hoped for a better life in France. Alas, they were met with "anti-Algerian (racialized) hatred;" they were also cursed as "dirty Jews." Therefore, like so many Jews, Rehov became a citizen of the world: Someone whose view transcends the provincial, who does not belong to one nation, but to all nations, a bridge person, a boundary-leaper, a river-crosser: An Ivri, a Hebrew, a man who knows how to get out of town quickly.
A Turning Point
Pierre nevertheless flourished. He became a novelist and a magazine publisher. He married and had children. His business ventures took him everywhere, including to Morocco. In the mid-1990s, Pierre was sharing a very friendly, at-home dinner with a Moroccan, Muslim business client and his wife when the man, albeit under the influence, suddenly began weeping uncontrollably. The man sobbed: "You're a really nice guy but you're a Jew and I know that one day I will have to kill you."
We are talking about secular Muslims, sophisticated people; politics was not being discussed, nor was Israel or Judaism. Yet, out of such alcoholic depths—warriors sometimes spring.
This was a turning point for Pierre. He vowed not to remain a bystander, minimizer, denier, or appeaser. A few years ago, Pierre was quoted on this very point. He said:
"I believe that Israel is the miracle of the 20th century. It is also the result of the worse injustice that has ever been visited upon a people. No other people but the Jews have been exterminated, non-stop, for 20 centuries." He cautions fellow Jews by reminding them how 470,000 Jews were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto before the remaining 30,000 realized what was happening and decided to (fight for their lives.) "How many Jews are going to be killed before we wake up and decide to fight back? I don't want to be among the last 30,000 to start fighting. I'm starting to fight right now."
Brave words—soon followed by even braver deeds.
Pierre told me that "Jews are not allowed to pre-emptively attack. Sometimes, they even get blamed when they dare to defend themselves."
When the Intifada of 2000 broke over Israel's head, Pierre was ready. He was the first person who challenged the Al-Dura Blood Libel. This horrific, fake child murder was first aired on and promoted globally by France's Channel Two. Pierre sued Channel Two; he even persuaded the French B'nai Brith to back his lawsuit because only an organization, not an individual, could bring such a suit. Pierre spent eight months researching the matter—only to see his case dismissed in six weeks—with no explanation given. (Such cases usually take two years to be resolved).
Philippe Karsenty, another hero, and also a friend of Pierre's and mine, was sued by Channel Two for defamation because he, too, continued to insist that the Al Dura matter was a hoax, a fakery. Had Karsenty lost, he could have been jailed. Pierre told me that "The French hired the very best lawyers. They really wanted to win the case against him. They did not want Charles Enderlin, a veteran French journalist, and a Jew, to have to admit that he'd been 'had' by his Palestinian cameraman. Even now, Enderlin refuses to apologize or to admit any wrongdoing.
After seven hard years, Karsenty was finally vindicated in a French court—a victory which Channel Two is still appealing.
Both Pierre and Philippe worked against the tide. The Islamic jihadists and their western collaborators, including the French government and world media, fought against them. But, at the same time, neither man was supported, (or even believed), by most Jewish and Israeli organizations. There were a handful of exceptions, including the Zionist Organization of America in Karsenty's case. These two heroes were sometimes sabotaged by Israeli and American-Jewish organizations. Karsenty has recently criticized David Harris and the American Jewish Committee for having utterly sabotaged his efforts in France.
Pierre believes that the Arab-friendly French government, especially under Chirac, is partly responsible for the enormous harm caused by the Al-Dura Blood Libel. For example, in his view, the fact that valuable footage was immediately given away to the world media for free is a dead giveaway. "Suddenly, Channel Two tells us that it can't make money on the death of a kid." Pierre is incredulous. "This is precisely what the media makes money on."
We may recall that Arafat and his family were treated like royalty in Paris. This is where Arafat came to die his mysterious death, long rumored to be of AIDS. (Arafat allegedly liked boys, not girls). Arafat died in November of 2004. As I recall, the French military Honor Guard held a funeral for Arafat at a military airport near Paris. President Jacques Chirac stood alone beside Arafat’s body for about ten minutes. He described Arafat as “a man of courage.” The French national anthem, followed by the Palestinian anthem, followed by Chopin's Funeral March were then played.
Even dead, Chirac was still in Arafat's back pocket.
After the staged theatrical shooting of Mohamed Al-Dura in the fall of 2000, Israel was demonized all over the world. Riots and anti Semitic rallies broke out. Immediately thereafter, the carefully orchestrated Al-Aqsa Intifada was unfurled. It was to become a global, possibly permanent Intifada against Israel. Pierre says: "The first Intifada was spontaneous, the second one was prepared. They had 30,000 guns ready to use."
Meanwhile, Pierre tried to rally French Jewish organizations to hold the French government responsible, legally, for having defamed the Jewish state. (Channel Two is a government-owned station). Then, he went to Israel, (he holds an Israeli passport), to further research the Al-Dura case. A German filmmaker, Esther Schapira, made a film in which she raised all the issues. Pierre persuaded a Jewish organization to buy the rights so that they could distribute it widely.
Still, neither the Israeli government nor world-wide Jewish organizations wanted to make a fuss. Perhaps they just wanted the world to forget the Blood Libel. In truth, once the image or the Big Lie is out there, the truth cannot make a psychological dent. People are instant-believers—and then they move on. Anything, including the facts, which might disturb their first impression or their long indoctrinated beliefs is simply rejected.
This did not stop Pierre. With his French passport in hand, Pierre assembled a crew and took his digital camera to extremely dangerous places in the West Bank and Gaza. In one film after the other, he exposed the Palestinian propaganda-and-hate machine as both non-stop and exterminationist in intentionality–and this was before Israel evacuated Gaza and Hamas was voted into office. Rehov documented the truth about the Palestinian refugees; the abuse of Arab Jews and Christians in the disputed territories and in the Muslim world; the training of suicide killers; the real story of the Palestinian takeover of the Church of the Nativity and the non-massacre in Jenin; the "silent exodus" of 800,000 Arab Jews, etc.
Guess what? He could not persuade a single channel to show any of his films in France. (I failed to interest HBO and PBS in airing his films here as well—even though they aired other films with very opposite points of view). And then, Pierre ingeniously used the French freedom of expression laws in order to distribute his films. He created a political magazine which he called Contre Champs, (Reverse Angle), and inserted a copy of his documentaries in each magazine. His magazines sold like hotcakes.
Pierre is now working on a new film script—this time, not a documentary, a feature film. If he can get it produced, it may indeed influence the course of events. I can say no more about it at this time.
I asked Pierre why he had chosen exile, yet again. He is not as young as he once was, none of us are, he has expended a fortune to get this work done. This is what he said.
"My daughter was very friendly with Ilan Halimi, the poor Jewish boy who was lured to his death after three weeks of torture by Muslim barbarians. The whole neighborhood took part in the torture or came to watch it. My daughter knew that he'd been kidnapped before it made the newspapers. She could not live in France anymore. I also came here to be with her."
I sighed. First, I told him that America was also undergoing an Islamification process and it remained to be seen as to whether or not we will stand up to jihad."
He said: "I am afraid that no one will understand this until there is another terrorist attack on American soil."
Said I, mournfully: "That might wake up the Christians but not the Jews."
And so we sat with each other, sipping coffee and enjoying his enchanting little dog, Nougat, a Yorkie. We remained together in the den until it was time to joyfully welcome the Sabbath and my other guests.
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