Two years ago, the creators of Paradise Now asked the Israel Film Foundation for public funding to help produce the film. They were turned down thanks to a number of reviewers—including myself—who were taken aback by its moral character.
Thus, Israel missed out on the chance to be part to an exciting, quality Nazi film.
I don't use the term "Nazi" frivolously or out of anger. Such a claim must be backed up, particularly when the subject is a film that conforms to all the criteria of quality filmmaking, and which barely contains any Jews. One could, perhaps, have been content with the phrase "anti-Israel" or "anti-Semitic.
But the film hasn't got any "Jews" in it and no "Israel," because Jewish Israel is referred to in the film as "them," or "occupation," or "killing" or an "injustice" that has no historic background or human form.
The only Jewish Israeli given a name is called Abu Shabab, the man who takes the terrorists to Tel Aviv and receives payment only after the terror attack (or "operation," in the film's phrasing) takes place. As he takes the terrorists to the Dolphinarium parking lot, the only Hebrew word in the film escapes his lips as he wishes the murderers "good luck."
And so, in just a few seconds, Beyer and Abu-Assad manage to define the Israeli, that is, the caricature Jew: fat, ugly, older, bearded, hungry for young Aryan girls and prepared to do anything for money.
Why use a Jewish Israeli character for this role, when there have been no more than three Jewish collaborators over more than 1000 terror attacks, and in fact most of the Israelis who do aid terror are Arab? How did the creators come to surrender their link to reality? Was it artistic or ideological?
And since all the participants in the film repeatedly emphasize that all peaceful Palestinian efforts at solving the problems of occupation and ethnic cleansing have failed, and that there is therefore no alternative but to conduct suicide "operations," the film's subtext suggests a solution to the problem: mass murder.
And so we can rightly call "Paradise Now" a Nazi film: it spins a thin thread of understanding for those who resorted to desperate measures to solve the problem of the constant, unremitting evil of the Jews.
And who are the suicide bombers in the film? They are no more than innocent victims of an occupation devoid of reason or purpose. Forget politics – at the film's conclusion, I was sadder about hottie Kais Nashef in the role of the suicide bomber than I was about a bunch of statistics in the role of Israelis on a Tel Aviv bus, most of whom were soldiers, as is the norm on Tel Aviv buses, and who we didn't even see die.
The suicide bombing to which the innocent heroes go is an act that, from its genesis to its conclusion, is devoid of victims. There may not even be a bombing, just a close-up on Nashef's soft eyes, and a white screen. Not even a 'boom.'
Maybe in the end he just changed his mind. The two murderers are kind, their clothes – Tarantino style – fit them well, so you like them. How could you not?
We liked Jackson and Travolta in "Pulp Fiction," and they, too, where murderers who wore the tailored suits. Tarantino prepared the ground for us to like barbaric killers, and to feel good about it.
So although true "martyrs" don't usually appear wearing suits, that's how Hany Abu-Assad chose to portray them. He knew the image it presents.
"Ah, come on," the critics will say, "that's propaganda? What do you mean? It's homage! At most, they'll argue whether the clothes came from "Pulp Fiction" or the "Blues Brothers.”
Another purely artistic consideration was the banding together of hotties Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman in the role of the murderers. I'd have to rack my brain to recall the martyr who could have sidelined as a male model.
But there we've got Kais as one of the bombers, and it's clear that whoever causes him to suffer ought to be punished.
It is purely out of artistic considerations, of course, that he recites his ideological speech – some lying, sanctimonious Hamas drivel – not with fanatic shouting, but rather with humility, sadness.
This is no Hitler in a stadium, but rather a delicate wildflower, ravaged by the spring winds – and by the occupation, of course, which is a ritual cleansing bath for every Palestinian moral blight.
The girl who opposes the suicide bombings (and who is also madly attracted to Kais) opposes it so vehemently not because she is opposed to killing civilians but rather because "it just gives them (that is, the Israeli root of evil) the alibi to continue killing."
In other words: it just isn't practical. And she's the humanist in the film. She's also cute.
Out of artistic considerations, the taxi driver in the film explains to Nashef that the settlers poisoned the wells by Nablus in order to harm the quality of Palestinian offspring. Nashef doesn't raise an eyebrow. Neither will viewers abroad. They've already internalized the link between Jews and well poisoning.
The bomber is me
The message of "Paradise Now" is simple: We're all people, even mass murderers." You see, anyone has the potential to blow up children and babies in a restaurant. It can happen to anyone, like dandruff.
The movie is a success because of the sophisticated direction of Hany Abu-Assad. There is no blood, and Nablus apartments with exposed cinderblock walls look every bit as romantic as a Tuscan villa. Everything is so beautiful, it's clear the terrorists are just like us, just with more tastefully decorated homes.
And again the message is clear: if these people can become murderers – than clearly so could I.
Out of artistic considerations, you understand, Hany Abu-Assad doesn't linger on the less photogenic aspects that can lead someone to commit mass murder – a distorted mentality of honor, an anti-Semitic education, Islamic radicalism, the cheapening of human life.
He only sells us a humanity whose outer characteristics we find palatable: young heroes, sweet families – like us – not religious fanatics, but marginally traditional, t-shirt wearing secular folk. You know, just like us.
But that's not wholly accurate, because the two murderers of "Paradise Now" aren't quite like us, nor are they like most other Western viewers. They're much more than that.
Son of God
They're the son of God, in all his splendor and glory. Yes indeed, the screenwriters were well aware of the film's Christian audience, so they prepared something especially for them.
Just before they go out to blow you and me up, the two cool killers sit down to eat a final meal, together with eleven men, in the exact arrangement and with the exact number of participants in Leonardo's famous painting of the Last Supper.
In order to prevent any of the non-Jews from interpreting the scene inappropriately and to maintain its visual context, there are no cuts during the scene.
There isn't a Christian on the planet who isn't familiar with that painting, or who doesn't know who's sitting around that table. The Christian whose mind will have no trouble conjuring up the association of Jesus just prior to his crucifixion.
So we've got a modern day Jesus and an innocent victim who will die – because of whom? An interesting question.
And Abu-Assad marches towards his Oscar, and we'll receive the next martyr. Let's just hope he's as hot as Nashef.