Art is connected to the government, and vice versa. Those who wish to make art that is not profitable are dependent on the authorities. Bezalel the artist worked for Moses. Michelangelo worked for Pope Julius II. Today artists also get subsidies from the government. The art belongs to the taxpayers, just as sports and Torah
studies in Israel also belong to the citizens.
Over the past few years the State of Israel has invested tens of millions of shekels in Israeli cinema. The investment is aimed at encouraging the local film industry, a Zionist industry, which offers a different perspective to life in Israel.
The investment in art is provincial and is meant to promote Israeli interests and make the citizens proud. The State is not trying to enrich the world with beauty or knowledge of the cinema.
The two documentaries which were nominated for an Oscar both received government funds, indirectly. "The Gatekeepers" was made by Israelis about Israelis. It is a highly critical film, and I do not agree with its conclusions, but it is impressive in its "cast" and the questions it raises. The other film, "5 Broken Cameras,"
is a Palestinian movie, made from a Palestinian perspective with Israeli aid. Its anti-Israel narrative is unproportional and unbalanced.
Films such as "The Gatekeepers" are part of Israeli tradition. We shoot and cry about our complex reality. The world likes to see tormented Israelis, though for us it is difficult.
The other documentary, which was defined as Israeli, is the type of work that causes damage to Israel's image. There is nothing Israeli about it, even if it was partly funded by the government (through the New Fund for Cinema and Television). While the film is legitimate and may have even helped people understand how wide the gaps are in this conflict and how Palestinians view Israelis, it is hard to call it a worthy investment by the government.
Palestinian films are part of the struggle we are involved in. The images and the commentary make "5 Broken Camera" a tool in the struggle against Israel, mainly in the eyes of its creators. It is part of the cultural war for the narrative. There are films, such as Muhammad Bakri's "Jenin Jenin,"
that unashamedly spread venomous anti-Israel propaganda, while other films do it in a more subtle manner. Both types of films should not be made with Israeli money.
The fact that we hoped one of the films would win an Oscar is a testament to how difficult it is for us as Israelis. The State of Israel, with its white hair, wrinkles and traumas is not young anymore, yet it still deals with the question of identity. Israelis are in search of identity, and even more so, sympathy. Israelis look to Hollywood to find relatives, even relatives who do not want them. We can take pride in the democratic discourse that appears in "The Gatekeepers," but I do not understand how an Israeli can identify with the belligerent discourse in "5 Broken Cameras."