Jihad — a fundamental right?

The film “Waltz with Bashir” about the first Lebanon War has been harshly criticized for presenting the actions of Israeli soldiers in total isolation, without context, without a reason.  I admit that I haven’t seen the film and don’t intend to.

But I have seen a short (90 second) animation about Israeli restrictions on Gaza made by Yoni Goodman, who was animation director for “Waltz with Bashir”. It was created for Gisha, an Israeli NGO “whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents”.

The short film shows a young Palestinian who is prevented from following a bird, representing his freedom or aspirations, by huge hands. They block him in every direction, even sink his rowboat when he tries to follow the bird out to sea. Ultimately the hands place the bird in a cage as well. At one point, he sees rockets fired at Israel — from a location far from him — and almost immediately he is buffeted by nearby explosions as Israel retaliates. That’s the context — no Hamas, no suicide bombings, no thousands of rockets over 8 years.

The position of Gisha is also presented on their website without context:

Since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel’s military has developed a complex system of rules and sanctions to control the movement of the 3.4 million Palestinians who live there. The restrictions violate the fundamental right of Palestinians to freedom of movement. As a result, additional basic rights are violated, including the right to life, the right to access medical care, the right to education, the right to livelihood, the right to family unity and the right to freedom of religion.

Ignoring the absurdities like ‘freedom of religion’ — is participating in jihad an absolute religious right? — it’s clear that the rights of Palestinians to complete freedom of movement conflict with the rights of Israelis (to life, etc.) because of the very real phenomenon of Palestinian terrorism. But the film, and Gisha, don’t mention Israeli rights, and this constitutes a major distortion of the moral question.

It might make sense to say that Israeli restrictions are not necessary, or too harsh. But it doesn’t make sense to ignore the aspect of the rights of Israelis.  How can Gisha be so ignorant or stupid not to see this?

The answer is not that they are ignorant or stupid, but that their distorted ideology does not recognize the equivalence of Israeli and Palestinian rights. The ‘post-colonial’ viewpoint that they apparently share with other contemporary left-wing groups, holds that in a colonial situation — which they think describes Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians — there is a fundamental asymmetry between the colonizer and the colonized.

For example, in this view the colonizer is racist, but the colonized people — even if they behave violently and hatefully toward the colonizers — cannot, by definition, be racist. In this view, racism is in part a power relationship, and it only flows one way, from the powerful to the powerless.

Another example is violence: when a colonized people uses violence, even terrorism, against a colonizer, that is ‘resistance’ and can be justified; but the attempts of the colonizer to protect itself are simply violence employed in the service of maintaining the subjugation of the colonized people and is never justified.

So it seems that for Gisha, there are not human rights. There are only the rights of those humans that — in their opinion — are oppressed.

And this is probably what underlies Gisha’s position. There is no need to look at Palestinian violations of Israeli rights because as  ‘colonizers’, Israelis have no rights. Q.E.D. 

When you watch the film below, ask yourself these questions:

  • What purpose is served by portraying the Palestinian as alone?
  • Why does the Palestinian have a face but Israel only has hands?
  • Why does the rocket firing take place far from the Palestinian?
  • Where is Iran in all this?

Gisha is funded in part by the European Union, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the UK Government Global Opportunities Fund. It lists as “primary funder” a US non-profit named Echoing Green, a charity which funds “social entrepreneurs”.

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9 Responses to “Jihad — a fundamental right?”

  1. ME says:

    You should really see that film Waltz with Bashir. Fearing to watch it without knowing whether it is will have any significant impact on your aesthetic senses sounds more laborious than sitting passively in front of a film screen for less than two hours to see one of the most advanced and developed pieces of art produced in the past decade.

    Really, if you can manage to detach yourself from needing some contextual explanation for the film’s content, and just roll with the film for a moment, you will find it is one of the most visually effective and engaging pieces of art work.

    Sometimes, art does not have to have meaning, reason, or purpose beyond its own existence. Your sensitivities to the nature of the content are allowing you to judge something from a particular angle, but that is not the viewpoint or perception shared by all.

    Otherwise, I don’t really understand the title of this blog in conjunction with the minor diatribe about Waltz.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    I am not going to see it because of something Areyh Green said (I mentioned him before, and his blog is in my blog roll): Why should I contribute even a dollar to this anti-Israel propagandist?

    As far as the title of this post, it relates to the ‘post-colonialist’ worldview in which even terrorism is acceptable if committed by an ‘oppressed’ people against a ‘colonialist oppressor’.

  3. ME says:

    How can you be Pro-Israel and deny other Israelis the right to their freedom of expression, that is not particularly anti-Israeli so much as it is an introspective depiction of a series of events that occurred in the past?

    Are you not propagating the right of Israelis to live in a Jewish society, free from the threat of terrorism, by advocating retaliation and defense? Then, if that is the case, you should question your impetus to expend energy propogating against that which you strive toward, and focus on real enemies, antagonists, and anti-Israeli propogandists. Which, you will not find amongst Israelis, unless you are overly defensive.

  4. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Read the review of the movie linked to in the first sentence of my post, and you will see what the problem is with this film. If you are an Israeli who knows the story of the war, the fact that the PLO had set up a base in Lebanon and was launching attacks and firing Katyushas at Israel from it — then you understand that the invasion was justified (even if you think it should have been limited to 25 km, etc.) But a foreigner only sees Israel being pointlessly brutal. Read the review, it’s very good.

    Of course Israelis have a right to free speech. I also have a right to not patronize commercial works of ‘art’ that have a propaganda goal to hurt Israel.

    Unfortunately, there are plenty of Israelis who act in a way that hurts the state. There’s no way to stop them if we want free speech, but we certainly have the right to use our own freedom of speech to oppose them.

  5. ME says:

    This is how confusing things can get when one person’s perspective is taken as, forgive the pun, “G-d’s word”, on a matter inherently subject to varying viewpoints. Take care not to make idols out of those persons’ opinions that you respect, especially when there really is no arguing aesthetic renditions, since art is inherently flux.

    The invasion is not depicted as unjustified. What it does depict is an invasion that occurred, and then provides informative insight on the nature of a Evangelical Christian involvement and responsibility in the incursion.

    If anything, the film is anti-evangelicals, which could be one of the reasons that you likely find affinity in opposition. Or maybe you are really comfortable reading and commiserating about some peice of moderately documentary art that you could have seen and informed yourself about at this point, rather than backbiting on the basis of one person’s perspective about the film.

    I mean, I would feel real confused if I made absolutist comments about something on the basis of one person’s opinion and blindly followed that opinion to the point that I was foresaking other clearly identifiable affiliations serving as the basis for an entire blog about Israel.

    I feel almost certain that the fractionalized disposition amongst members of religions, could be the basis for the breakdown in humanity. You are aware of such disparate factions of Islam; Palestinians are not respected by wealthy Arabs, wealthy Arabs do not adhere to strict fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist christians do not recognize moderation in christianity. I don’t really see room for Judaism to follow suit at the point where Israel is concerned, without subjecting Israel to significant threat.

    Be clear on whether the propoganda is sincerely designed to hurt Israel, before you jump on that boat, because it may capsize.

    Being demonstrative about anything so subjective is very obscure. At least from my perspective.

  6. Vic Rosenthal says:

    My post was not about “Waltz with Bashir”. In two sentences I said it had been criticized, and then I went on to discuss the 90-second propaganda video made by Yoni Goodman, who was also involved with it. I didn’t make absolutist comments about “Waltz with Bashir”, unless you count my saying that the review had convinced me not to go see it. But that wasn’t even in my post.

    The short video was propaganda and my post was about why it was made as it was, and why Gisha thinks as they do.

  7. ME says:

    Okay. I realized that at the outset.

    You have to fogive me for being so argumentative and propogating that you should still see the film, but I have a member of my family who oft says they do not intend to see films or read books on the basis of scant or isolated information, so I may have become overly propogating on that point, myself, as a force of habit.

    Otherwise it would have taken me a lot longer to contive those long defensive comments, had they not been recycled from repetition.


  8. ME says:

    Oh . . . and per your suggestion, I just read the bit by Katie Green on that Blog you attached a link too.

    I realize that some people with possibly less exposure to art may be inclined to head some isolated review, however, please note that Ms. Green is really citing reasons based on an absence of material content. Since she is not the director, writer, or artist at issue, her opinion about what is missing as being cause for ill sought regard for Israel results in needless paranoia about anti-Israel propoganda.

    Furthermore, I find is poignant that her commentary about bad press for Israel rests on the isolated opinion of visiting Autralian Christians in the theater in Jerusalem. Likely because they were cognizant of the anti-evangelical undertones in the film. If anything, Israelis worried about Christian evangelical support would likely rush to defend them against their own Country and citizens. Which is terribly disturbing on a variety of extreme levels.

    Just some thoughts. And those earlier comments were not as pre-fab as I made them appear in my prior comment, in fact – DO NOT FORGIVE ME. I make no apologies after reading the basis for your intent not to see the film and for even bringing it up in your blog today in such a remotely controversial tone.

    And that little video is really nothing like the film. You should also not engage in guilt by association, just because one film produced by someone that worked on Waltz is seems pro-Palestinian.

    Israel needs a Constitution.

  9. Shalom Freedman says:

    My comment is not about the debate between ME and Vic Rosenthal about seeing ‘Waltzing with Bashir’. It is actually about the short film described by Vic Rosenthal. I have also read a description of the film made in the ‘Jerusalem Post.’
    My only comment is that one- sided propaganda of this kind is shameful and treasonous when done by an Israeli. Here is a person who is showing no concern whatsoever for the security concerns , for the sufferings of his own people. Rather he is defaming them and joining a very large international cast in doing so. He is providing more reason to hate Jews and Israel at a time when there is increasing hatred of Jews and Israel.
    Shame on this guy. Being talented is not enough , one also needs to be a decent human being.