In 1998, a young filmmaker approached the New Israeli Foundation for Film and TV for assistance in filming a documentary about a Palestinian family. By documenting the family, he sought to address the issue of the right of return and the Palestinians’ desire to go back to their homeland 50 years after they were expelled from it.
Even though the film’s theme and perception was difficult to bear even for those who are sensitive to Palestinian distress, the movie was examined based on artistic criteria and was granted funding. The film’s creator was called Nizar Hassan.
At the time, Hassan saw fit to approach an Israeli foundation that relies on state funds to support, in the name of tolerance and liberalism, a pro-Palestinian movie that challenges the State of Israel’s right to maintain a Jewish majority. Ten years have passed, and the very same Nizar Hassan displayed his own intolerance by refusing to teach a student who arrived at class directly after performing military reserve service, and was therefore wearing an army uniform.
Hassan simply doesn’t like the army that almost each one of his students served in, and he was unwilling to see the khaki uniform that symbolizes this army in his classroom.
We can assume that Nizar Hassan would speak out against a Jewish lecturer who kicked out a Muslim student wearing a hijab or an Arab student wearing a Kaffiyeh – and rightfully so. However, the example I just gave is not quite commensurate with the case at hand, because religious distinctions which we should all respect are not the same as an army uniform that nobody puts on because he wants to.
Academia, culture dominated by radical leftistsYet this is percisely the crux of the matter. Each one of us should show tolerance to the other, to a limit, of course – in this case, the limit decided by the college where Hassan teaches. This tolerance should be reflected in accepting the religion, customs, beliefs, and views of each and every one, including the acceptance of a student who arrives at class wearing an army uniform.
Nizar Hassan is not the only one. These days, academia and culture are dominated by a radical leftist approach that has nothing to do with the liberal views associated with the Left. Based on this approach, in the name of the sense of insult and discrimination felt by the minority (an Arab one in this case,) the same minority is allowed to show intolerance, contempt, and rejection to those belonging to the majority.
While doing this, the minority will continue to preach against the racism and discrimination it suffers. The moment it has the power, even for a brief moment, it will do all it can to hurt the majority, in the name of that same sense of discrimination along with a strong desire to “do justice.”
We should be clear about this: Racism is still racism, discrimination is still discrimination, and intolerance is still intolerance even if those who display them are members of a minority group. After all, Nizar Hassan and his comrades are the ones who often preach to the Jewish public, saying that those who suffered racism and anti-Semitism must be tolerant and enlightened in their attitude to other people. If so, why is this concept, which is being applied to the Jewish public, invalid when it comes to the Arab community?
Hassan displays outrageous hypocrisy. In the past, he was supported by Israeli foundations in making his movies, but once he became an appreciated filmmaker, he developed a negative attitude to Israeli money. These days he is being funded by foreign funds and makes sure not to speak Hebrew, while identifying himself as a Palestinian and not as an Israeli. Yet all this doesn’t stop him from making a living by teaching in an Israeli college funded by the Israeli government and by the students, many of whom serve in the army. Did we already say hypocrisy?
David Fisher is the director of the New Israeli Foundation for Film and TV