"Paradise Now" movie causes debate

A group of Israelis who have lost children to suicide bombings have asked that the Academy Awards drop the movie "Paradise Now" from consideration for any awards according to a new report. Those who lost loved ones feel that the movie fails to condemn and may even encourage such attacks that have been used by Palestinian and Islamic extremists to attack Israelis. Such an allegation may seem ironic since Warner Independent Pictures is billing Paradise Now as a call for peace.

As someone who actually watched a screening of this film IN the Palestinian West Bank a few weeks ago; I thought I might make a few comments. This is a very intense, extremely well-made (and low budget at that!) film. Does it deserve any Acadamy Awards? Well I am not sure...probably more than some of the other contenders.

Does it encourage suicide bombings or is it a call for peace? Honestly, I think people could take either message from the film, it is very ambiguous - just like the actual situation on the ground in the West Bank. A little Palestinian girl that watched the movie with us said she thought it showed that there were better ways to address the conflict than violence - but, I should probably add, she is a Palestinian Arab Christian (like virtually all of the Christians in the Holy Land).

This film does a very good job of showing the Palestianian people in the way that many of them actually feel: trapped. Trapped in a downward spiral of violence and death. The making of this movie demonstrates that there REALLY IS a will for peace among the Palestinians, yet it is not especially optimistic. There is only one answer for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and we see it when we look at the Cross of Christ: forgiveness. Only when people are willing to say "Father, forgive them," only when people consiously choose that they will not strike back though they have been wounded unjustly, only when people let go of their "rights" (to hate or seek revenge in response to evil) can there ever be peace there. It will be hard. It will be especially hard for those who do not value that kind of radical forgiveness.

I can not imagine the pain of losing a child in a terrorist bombing, and I hope I never know it; but I am certain that behind every bombing there is a bomber. And it would be easy to dismiss him as some less-than-human monster. And to keep doing so every time that it happens. That would be easy, but it would not be honest. The truth is he is actually very much like you or I would be in his situation. Maybe that is the scariest part of this film. By the end you really FEEL the moral ambiguity of it all: you see very clearly that violence will only continue the downward spiral, and yet you sense why a bomber would see it as the only place left to go, you feel trapped with him.

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Blogger matao said...

I think the request is ridiculous. I can't stand how some people expect their rights/beliefs to be completely heeded to, while disregarding others' rights/beliefs. The only way everyone can be equal is if everyone treats others the same way they would LIKE TO BE treated, not the way they have been treated. eh?

11:39 PM, March 02, 2006  

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