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Monday, January 23, 2006

Paradise Now- A Trailer For Terrorism

For the past week I have been struggling with the results of the Golden Globes. The movie Paradise Now won the Best Foreign Language Film award. The fictional film documents the last two days of two friends turned suicide bombers before being sent on a suicide mission in Tel Aviv. It humanizes these animals and shows their side of the story, attempting to rationalize their actions. I haven't seen the movie and can't begin to remain objective about it so I won't try. I am outraged at the results of the awards and yet I can't really describe my feelings, so I won't. Instead, I would like to relate the very moving words of a father who's son Asaf, was killed by a suicide bomber on March 5th, 2003 in Haifa, when the bomber blew himself up on a bus, crowded with children. Asaf was less than 4 weeks younger than myself.

An Award for Terror
By Yossi Zur

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.

[Original] [Asaf Zur Memorial]

This past Thursday a terrorist blew himself up in a shwarma restaurant next to the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, wounding 20 people. Thank god there were no fatalities other than the bomber himself. This is the first suicide bombing since December 5th's suicide bombing in Netanya that killed 5. These are the kinds of attacks we will continue to suffer as long as movies like Paradise Now are glorified and given awards.

The old central bus station has seen terrorism in the past. In January of 2003, 23 people were killed and about 120 wounded in a double suicide bombing.

The old central bus station is a ten minute bus ride from my base. I drive past it twice daily when I head to and from my base. Not five hours ago, my bus passed 4 meters from the site of the bombing. Windows broken. Scaffolding set up, with repair men fixing the facade of the building. At the time of the bombing I had just gotten home from attending a memorial ceremony for a fallen soldier. I was about to head to the cleaners to drop off my uniform when my CO called to let me know what had happened and to check that I was OK.

Unfortunately in Israel, very quickly you get used to terrorism. I wager you won't find anyone in the country with more than two degrees of separation between them and a victim of it. It is something we have to live with, because if we don't, if we let it get to us, the terrorists have won. They have succeeded in their mission. They have put fear in us. They have made us scared to live our lives the way we would, were there no terrorism here. And so, I will continue to ride that same bus to work. I will continue to shop at the mall. I will continue to drink at the bars along the beach in Tel Aviv. Because I am not afraid. Because I won't be afraid. Because I won't let them win.


At 3:10 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Cori/Shoshana said...

well said. i think im going to send this to some family and friends who just dont get it.

At 2:56 AM, February 26, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having watched the movie in my Contemporary Religious Issues class, i would have to say that it does not for one moment glorify the act of suicide bombing, in stead it is a call for peace, and a end to oppression and violence. There is an extreme difference between the men who plain out such horrific acts and the individuals who are convinced to carry them out. It was Gandhi who called us to "Hate the sin, love the sinner"
and believe it or not all organized religion has had their extremist who have committed acts of terrorism.


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