This week the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film to the Palestinian movie "Paradise Now." The film follows the path taken by two young Palestinians from their decision to become suicide bombers, until the moment they board a Tel Aviv bus crowded with children.
"Paradise Now" is a very professional production, created with great care for detail. It is also an extremely dangerous piece of work, not only for Israel and the Middle East, but the whole world.
My son Asaf was almost 17 years old, an eleventh-grader studying computer sciences, when one day after school he boarded a bus in Israel to return home. On the way, a suicide bomber from Hebron, 21 years old and himself a computer sciences student in the Hebron Polytechnic, also boarded the bus and blew himself up. Of the 17 people killed, nine were schoolchildren aged 18 or younger. Asaf was killed on the spot.
I went to see "Paradise Now" to try to understand what message it was trying to convey. Was it that the murderer is human and is as deserving of sympathy as his victims? He is not. Was it that he has doubts? He has none. After all, he is so sure of his mission that he is willing to kill himself along with his human targets.
Or maybe, I wondered, the film was trying to give the message that it is the Israelis who are to blame for this horrific act, for the phenomenon of suicide bombing. In that case, are the Israelis also to blame for the similar terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center, the Bali nightclub, the Amman hotels, the shop in Turkey, the restaurant in Morocco the underground stations in London, the trains in Spain and so many others?
What exactly makes "Paradise Now" worthy of such a prestigious award? Would the entertainment writers who chose to honor this movie have given the same accolades if the film had been about the young men from Saudi Arabia who moved to the U.S., took flying lessons and then underwent Islamic ritual preparations for their holy mission to crash airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? Would they have dared to give such a version of "Paradise Now" a similar award?
This movie attempts to deliver the message that suicide bombings are a legitimate tactic for those who feel they've exhausted all other means of resistance. But a suicide-murderer who boards a bus and snuffs out the lives of 15 or 20 innocent people, or who walks into a city carrying a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon and kills 10,000, or even 100,000 people, is that still a legitimate tactic? Where does one draw the line?
The world should draw the line at one person. My son was almost 17; he loved surfing, he loved pop music. He is now gone because a suicide bomber decided that blowing himself up on a crowded bus filled with children was somehow a legitimate act.
Awarding a movie such as "Paradise Now" only implicates the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in the evil chain of terror that attempts to justify these horrific acts, whether the number of victims is 17 or 17,000.