Let’s set aside the criticism from Israelis and Jews that the film isn’t tough enough on the Arabs or Palestinian terrorism, or that the film focuses on Israeli assassins and portrays them as being vengeful and cruel. Rather, let’s focus on the Arab reaction.
Even if Israelis hate the film, Arabs will hate it more. Because even if the Israelis look bad in Munich, the Arabs will probably look even worse. Arabs will blast the film and claim, as they always do, that “the Jews control the media and Hollywood, too.”
As a journalist, the term “media” includes anything that has to do with communications. That includes the news media, Hollywood movies, the New York book publishing industry, television sitcoms and most entertainment.
To most Arabs, Spielberg’s film is just another part of the vast "Jewish media conspiracy." They believe that the "Jewish media conspiracy" theory best explains why so many in the Western World sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians.
So, what’s stopping Arabs from making their own movies? Why don’t the Arabs control the news media?
Are not those more important questions to ask?
Can’t the Arabs come up with a great movie that will move audiences to tears and support for our causes, than to simply respond by always blaming “the Jews”?
All I ever hear is that “the Jews control the media.”
Arab World doesn’t believe in free speech
That upsets me, not because I believe it is true. It is not true. It may be true that there are many more Jews in American journalism than there are Arabs. But, who’s stopping the Arabs from becoming journalists?
What upsets me most is that if the Jews control the media, then that means the Arabs either think the media is not worth controlling, or, more likely, we don’t know how to control the media.
Does it therefore mean that Jews are smarter than Arabs? Does it therefore mean Jews are more talented than Arabs?
It certainly means that while the Arabs don’t control the media, they love to complain about it.
Is it that we Arabs are so poor that we can’t afford to buy or launch our own newspapers, television stations or produce our own compelling Hollywood films?
Part of the problem is the Arab World itself. Arabs come from societies that are not free in a real sense. Yes, we are “freer” than we used to be, but we are far from really being “free.”
The Arab World doesn’t believe in free speech because if they did, Arab filmmakers would not only be making movies bashing Israel and promoting Arab and Palestinian causes, but they would also be bashing the tyrants who dominate our world. They would also be exposing the lies that drive the corruption of government and the sins of our society, such as Honor Killings and the restrictions we impose on women.
Arabs losing the war of words
Spielberg’s film isn’t the first film to project an Israeli tragedy on the Western World. Israelis and Jews have eloquently told their story dozens of times or more in compelling narrative that captures the hearts and minds of audiences around the world -- every subject from the Holocaust to hijackings, the killing of Israelis and Jews to the creation of Israel.
One of the most popular is the Hollywood movie "Exodus." The movie Exodus is fiction, yet it probably has defined for most Americans the fundamentals of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The film is based on the fiction novel by prize-winning author Leon Uris. Uris was commissioned by a publicist hired by supporters of the state of Israel.
Fiction is a powerful medium. So why haven’t Arabs used it?
No. Arabs prefer “the truth” to “fiction.” We prefer to write boring, academic books that are as thick as encyclopedias and stuffed with “facts” and “statistics” and prose drowned in footnotes and smothered with dry analysis.
Let’s face it. Edward Said was probably the Palestinians' most brilliant author. Yet, the truth is, his books were only read by a relatively small circle of academics, students, Middle East activists and advocates. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans NEVER HEARD OF HIM. They never read any of his books.
What is the point of writing a historically accurate book that no one will read. People don’t want to read the boring truth. They want to be swooned by compelling literature that captures their hearts, their minds and has a soul.
The Arab World has essentially surrendered the news and Hollywood media without a fight. The sole exception is al-Jazeera which has failed to achieve its goals because it continues to broadcast in Arabic to the “Arab choir.” The West is so poisoned against al-Jazeera that if they ever do launch a professional English-language news broadcast – a big if – it might be too late.
Arabs are losing the war of words, and their only response is to slander Jews.
In the West, particularly in America, perception is often reality. The pen is mightier than the sword.
Until Arabs recognize those important points, we all might as well just calm down, sit back and enjoy the popcorn. Although the film may promote Israel’s historical narrative, it will be far more compelling than anything the Arab World can produce.
(Award winning Palestinian American journalist Ray Hanania writes exclusively for YnetNews.com on serious and humorous topics. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)