I picked up the National Post this morning to see the highly glossed faces of a group of actors, musicians and writers who have decided to protest the showing of a 10-film program to be highlighted at the Toronto International Film Festival.
It is no surprise that they are targeting a series of 10 films about Tel Aviv. Every protest today by intellectuals or artists who think they are intellectuals has to be about Israel. It is the worst country in the world, is it not?
The 50 protesters, including David Byrne, Jane Fonda and Naomi Klein, believe the films are actually part of a sinister Israeli propaganda plot, unbeknownst to those running the film festival.
They say, as they always do, that they are not anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli, but they feel they must say something in the “wake of this year’s brutal assault on Gaza,” and therefore the films should not be shown.
Some of the signatories, including Ms. Klein, are Jewish, so they cannot really be anti-Semitic. There are always the enlightened Jews who know when their coreligionists have gone too far. In fact, that is what Charles Lindbergh said in 1939 when he identified Jews as one of the main forces dragging the U.S. into the war against Germany:
It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race. No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastation. A few far-sighted Jewish people realize this and stand opposed to intervention. But the majority still do not.
So congratulations Ms. Klein for being brave and far-sighted and willing to stand alongside those fellow … protestors.
Then there’s Jane Fonda. We should really listen to her. Was it not Jane who, during the Vietnam War, when 57,000 of her countrymen were killed fighting the communists, made the trip to Hanoi to offer her support for the downtrodden North Vietnamese? It was. You can find the pictures of Hanoi Jane on the Web, proudly watching a communist anti-aircraft team show her how they do their work. It is nice to see Jane coming out once again on the side of the angels. I am sure she was equally upset about all those Israelis getting blown to bits by suicide bombers and rocket launchers. But I could be wrong about that.
Danny Glover made some great films with Mel Gibson, who, according to some reports, has issues with some Jews. I am sure that really got Danny’s goat, too. Or perhaps not.
No one can prove they are anti-Semites, but they are guilty of exhibiting the same behaviour as anti-Semites, and as all bigots everywhere: they see people as one-dimensional. They have decided that Israel is no longer a normal society and that it can only be defined by its military actions.
There is nothing Israel, or more precisely the people who live in Israel, can do to prove there is more to them than this conflict.
So I have decided to protest. As far as I am concerned all the 50 people who have signed this letter of protest are nothing more than that single signature. Nothing that has come before or is to come will ever change that. I will never read a Naomi Klein book. I will burn my Jane Fonda exercise tapes. I will boycott any movie that Danny Glover has ever been in or will be in and I am throwing out every CD on which David Byrne appears. The same goes for all the rest, but in all honesty I hoped never to read another Alice Walker book as long as I lived, so that will be easy.
Not that I have anything against these people; some of my best friends are artists.