Come along Harvey, into the bedroom where a father and his three-month-old daughter, Hadas, were fast asleep. It can be hard to get a 3-month-old baby to fall asleep. Her father must had quite a time of it that night. Babies may not have language, but they do have fears. They are afraid of the strange new world they were born into. And they need parents to comfort them and assure them that everything will be all right. That they are loved and protected.
When Rabbi Fogel finally got his little baby daughter to sleep, she must have felt safe with her father there. The man who would have taught her about life. Who would have done his best to protect her. And the man whose throat was slashed in his sleep along with his child’s.
Tell me Harvey, do you know what goes through a three month old baby’s mind when her throat is being slashed? You can’t make a movie about it and you wouldn’t it if you could. Movies are complex stories. The characters change and grow. They become someone else. A three-month-old baby having her throat cut will never become anyone else. She is fixed in that moment of horror and pain. Dying without knowing why. Only that her parents couldn’t protect her.
If you were going to make a movie about this scene, it would be about the killers. You would show their past and explain their actions. Surely an Israeli soldier stepped on their toe once or blew up their house. Stretch it out over two hours and you can justify anything. Even the knife being drawn across Hadas’ throat. That is the magic of cinema. But to three-month-old Hadas, there is no context. The movie of her life ended the night you were hard at work promoting yours.
The mother had been in the bathroom while the bloody work took place. A small moment of peace while her children slept. She didn’t let them cut her throat, the way they had that of her husband and her baby daughter. Instead she fought them. They had to stab her to death.
If you ever make a movie about these particular terrorists, be sure to emphasize how hard it is to stab a mother to death. She will fight for her children. And the terrorists will have to work to kill her. You should swoop the camera down sympathetically on their sweating faces as they do the hard work of murdering her.
From there they went on to murder 11 year old Yoav who was reading in bed. Next was 3 -year-old Elad. Why stab a 3-year-old boy twice in the heart? That is the question, Harvey. I understand once. Once is certainly enough to kill any 3 year old. But twice? Maybe it was that each killer wanted a turn and a share of the glory of murdering a toddler. They had already murdered three children and their parents, but the laws of Islam can be arcane sometimes. Is it possible then that the Shaheed (the martyr) will not enter paradise unless he murders a 3 year old too?
Maybe there are more virgins waiting in paradise for each child killed. Murder a child and trade his body in for more virgins. Or maybe it is that the brave Jihadists who climb through living room windows and cut the throats of children in their sleep wanted to feel the violence of that blow. The thrill of the knife slamming home into a child’s heart. Or maybe it is that Elad’s heart was strong enough that even two adult Muslim terrorists had to stab twice to kill him.
I would like to think so.
Your article promoting Miral urges that ‘understanding the “other” requires us to step out of our comfort zones’. Step now out of your comfort zone. And understand the other. I don’t mean the murderers themselves. I think you understand them a little too well. If you didn’t understand them at all, Miral would be lying on a back shelf somewhere.
I urge you to understand your own ‘Other’, not those who kill in the name of Islamic terrorism, but those who die of it. Who die and yet refuse to give in. Who cling to their tiny patch of land, more than you would ever cling to your Connecticut estate.
Family members have released photos of the children lying in their blood, but I don’t think you will want to see them. They are too far outside your comfort zone. There is plenty of blood and gore in your movies, but this is different. These are the bodies of inconvenient children. Their deaths don’t fit into your ideological framework. You know quite well that Muslims are good people, and Jews who live on land claimed by the Muslims, are bad people. If they are murdered it is inconvenient because it retards the peace process. The process by which terrorists climb through living room windows and slash the throats of children. Until whole families are at peace.
“Unless the Palestinian narrative is finally understood and acknowledged by Israelis and their American supporters, there will never be peace in the Holy Land,” you say. As if peace were in your hands to give. But we understand the Palestinian narrative all too well. The real one and the fake one. We know the olive groves, the bulldozers and the keys. And we also know the terrorist gangs trained by Islamic fanatics and Socialist dictators to seize the land and murder its inhabitants. The gangs whom Moscow gave a nationalist gloss calling them the Palestinian people, the smirking thugs on whom President Clinton and European leaders bestowed legitimacy and billions of dollars.
If you want to know the real narrative, then put Miral on a shelf and ask where the Christians of the region have gone. Where have the Zoroastrians gone? Why are there so few left? The answer would make for a much better movie, but it is not a movie that you will ever make. It is a story of bigotry and genocide. It is an old story and a new one. You can find its oldest chapters in the Koran, along with the graves of the Jews of what is today Saudi Arabia. Its latest chapters are being written in Europe, where Jews once again flee European cities, not from men in uniforms, but in long robes. And unless that narrative is understood, there will be no peace in the Holy Land, or anywhere else.
I know that none of this will move you. Controversy is your bread and butter. The more you hear cries of pain, the more you count the cash. Miral will make you money. Just as Der Ewige Jude made money. And you will protest that there is no comparison between the two. Miral is only giving the Palestinian narrative, just as Der Ewige Jude gave the Aryan narrative. It is more subtle, I’m sure. The audiences you count on are liberal and sophisticated. They won’t be taken in by gutter propaganda.
You will dismiss this as, what you describe in your article, being, “smeared by those who insist on reducing this conflict to us vs. them.” So stand outside while Rabbi Cohen walks with his gun, a twelve year old by his side, her heart beating almost as hard as her little brother’s did when the knife came down on it, and wait while she goes inside. And then answer her this, if you truly believe in not reducing the conflict to ‘Us vs Them’ then why are you telling the story of Miral and not her story?
You have chosen a side. Our ‘Them’ is your ‘Us’. Soon that girl will leave the house again, along with her younger brothers. Three children who somehow survived. Look her over carefully. She is your ‘Other’. The story you do not want to hear. The face you do not want to see. She survived tonight. So did two of her brothers. Next time they might not. No movie is needed to tell her story. Her life is her story. Her survival a testament.