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(Revised Oct. 7)

Jordanian King Abdullah II wants to set up a Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in Jordan (RSICA), which will also be open to Israeli film students. Steven Spielberg gave his support to this initiative, that will have a partnership with the American USC:

"When His Majesty the king approached me on the subject of a Jordan-based, world-class film school serving every country in the Middle East, including Israel, I immediately saw the importance and significance of such a venture for the people and the future of the region."

Israeli filmmaker Dan Katzir explains why he thinks this is an important and brave initiative:

"People seem to be very skeptical about this project. I believe that King Abdullah was extremely brave to initiate this program a day after the [president] of Iran made some comments attacking Israel and there was a tense atmosphere in New York."

"I see it as a statement of peace and tolerance and hopefully it will work out," continued Katzir, who said he had joked with the Commissioner of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan about how the world needed to convince those who do not want peace to see that it is much more fun to make movies than war.

"Movies are an amazing way to create dialogue, they have the ability to show the humanity of both sides of a conflict. On the news we only see the rhetoric, we don't see the culture of others," said Katzir, whose films have won 22 international awards and a nomination for the Israeli Academy Awards.

In her Jerusalem Post article about the initiative, Ruth Eglash asserted that Arab bloggers were opposed to the idea. She quoted one alleged "blogger" as writing:

"I read what blogger Laith Majali posted about the film school and it said the school is also open to Israelis. Imagine, sitting next to you will be an Israeli who is an IDF reservist and who may have killed or maimed an Arab a few kilometers away from the film school. And then we in Jordan will help him make films about evil and terrorist Arabs. This is like Israeli film schools admitting skinheads and neo-Nazis," writes one anonymous blogger [commenter] on amatalqa.blogspot.com, the blog of an LA film student.

Maybe the Israeli sitting next to him will not be a Jew but a Bedouin. Maybe he did not maim an Arab while on duty, but evacuated a Jewish settlement instead. And perhaps he won't be making a movie about evil Arab terrorists, but about the wrongs of the Israeli occupation. Many Israeli filmmakers are critical to the Israeli government and the occupation, and their films deal with that in the first place. Right leaning students would probably not attend a film school in Jordan anyway.

Of course the comparison to neo-Nazis is obnoxious. Israelis who point to the dangers of Muslim extremism are not like neo-Nazis but like the people combating them. It would be more like Germany in the 1930s accepting Jews in their film schools who pointed to the dangers of Nazism. Something quite normal and important, that changed with all the anti-Jewish laws in those years that resulted in the biggest genocide we ever witnessed.

However, the Jerusalem Post article did not mention the fact that some bloggers at least were positive about the initiative, and the cited "bloggers" were in fact comments posted on blogs that themselves reported the film project positively or neutrally. Blogger Natasha complained:

Nas drew my attention to the fact that The Jerusalem Post ran a story today about the on-line reactions to Jordan's upcoming Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA). First of all, the title of the Post's article -- Arab bloggers upset Jordanian school open to Israelis -- is completely inaccurate. It was not Arab bloggers who were upset. In fact, both Amin, Laith and myself were absolutely thrilled about the project. It was on-line commenters, most of whom were anonymous, that expressed dissatisfaction with the project. Obviously, the journalist who wrote this piece does not know the difference between a blogger and a commenter.

I also noticed that the journalist -- Ruth Eglash -- decided to highlight the exact same comments that I highlighted on my blog last week without mentioning the fact that I, the blogger, was excited about the project and without making any reference to my blog. It is obvious here that the journalist did not do a fair and forthright job, as she focused only on the negative comments and reported inaccurate information by referring to commenters as bloggers. What irresponsible journalism!

Ruth Eglash read the complaints and hastily changed the online version of her article, replacing 'bloggers' with 'commentators', erasing the 'neo-Nazi' comment (that had also been erased from the blog she quoted it from), and toning down the title to "Arab bloggers: Jordan school can't admit Israelis" (but still failing to cite any blogger that wrote such a thing).

Natasha's critique however also caused some commenters to ventilate their feelings about Jews and Israel and the result is much worse than the comments the JP cited:

I have no problem with jews, i have jewish friends, its u israelis that are the cause of problems in the middle east, and as u said as long is there are zionists in palestine there will always be and there must be resistance, you call it terrorism because of your racist brain washed propaganda doctrine.
I also learned something from talking to zionists, there is no point in talking to them.
It's pioneering in the sense jewish IDF militants can learn filmmaking during the week in an arab school then go shoot arabs on weekends. It's an original concept.
Since we are at it, I say we advertise the film school on KKK and Skinheads websites too, to sign them up for the jordan film school. This way we bring jews and neonazis together to help promote peace and understanding. There has been too much
While we're at the subject (and sorry for deviating from the main discussion Natasha) I want to point out the Spielberg donated during the last "Israeli"-Lebanese war 1M USD to support "underserved communities in the North" (i.e.: Settlements, ceased Palestinian land, u name it...) to "Israel". Spielberg is one of the sponsors of RSICA...
Which leads me to the thought that prior to the announcement of this project, talks were up and healthy with this donor during war time.
This saddens me...
Do you want something creepy just right from the hebrew oven? Here is this horrific article about the use of scinece to study race. Rings a bell? remember Nazi and Japanese studies in genetics? yet here is Israel, out in the open, at a time when its waging a racial war, engages in a racial study to detemine the jewish gene. How scarey.
The things the jewish state gets away with. Do you think Germans today can get away with such a study? The Israelis are sick racist people.

Comments on blogs are often moronic, but what is written here is probably representative of popular views held by many people in the 'Arab street'. Maybe it should not surprise us, if we just look at what newspapers, TV programs and imams in Arab countries regularly say about Jews. Although the original article in The Jerusalem Post was at least clumsy, maybe even malicious, it is clear that there is much opposition against such projects in the Arab world. It is the task of a newspaper to give an adequate picture, and there is no justification for omitting the positive reactions from bloggers and even suggesting that all bloggers were negative. We need the voices of moderation like the above cited blogger and her friends desperately, and they should be heard in the Israeli press.

Many people in the Arab world are opposed to joint projects with Israelis, and that is one reason that there are not many such initiatives. Every time Egypt or Jordan have the courage to launch a joint project with Israel, or some Arab representative meets with Israelis or - God beware - visits their country, the Arab street reacts in large with anger. They repeat the three no's from the infamous Khartoum conference after the Six Day War: no peace, no recognition, no negotiations. Some Arab leaders have understood that making peace with Israel is also in the interest of their country, but most of the Arab street doesn't seem to have changed since that time.

Peace in the Middle East is only possible when also the ordinary people change their minds and see the benefits of it. Opposition to the film academy or other joint projects has nothing to do with the occupation and Palestinian suffering, but with hate against Israel and Jews. No Palestinian has benefited from this hate; quite the contrary, it is one of the causes of the Israeli-Arab conflict and a major obstacle to peace. It would help a bit if the Arab press stops publishing articles and cartoons depicting Jews as evil bloodsuckers secretly plotting to take over the world. And it helps as well if people who oppose rejectionism and anti-Semitism are not ignored by the free Israeli press.

Ratna Pelle

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000259.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 3 Comments


Just saw this clip about the Silent Intifada, seduction and afterwards abuse of poor, uninformed or emotionally deprived Jewish girls by Arab Israelis. Is it true? Could you investigate nad inform? Please excuse my suggestion, but this Silent Intifada is macabre. Shavuah Tovah.

Thomas Braun, Sunday, October 8th

I sympathyze with your approach towards the conflict. Rational and compassionate to put it in two words. Prejudice and ignorance feed the fire of conflict. Only reason and compassion can quench this sickness. Israel is not perfect but Israelk does not deserve one-millionth of the diatribe and damege it is inflicted. A Jewish terrorist receives 4 life sentences in an Israeli court. As far as I know only 2 Jewish terrorist murderers have been seen in the last 15 years. Palestinian terrorists kill an main Jews and non-Jews daily and no one stops them. Not the UN, NGOs, HRW, AI, no one. The Israeli leaders and press should adopt a more self-respecting position regarding Jewish values and security. Thank you Ratna.

Thomas Braun, Sunday, October 8th

I think beforehand,the Israeli government needs to think about Iran and its threat to all jewishs in all over the world

danyal, Sunday, October 8th

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