Who woulda thunk it?

It’s been a painful thing for me to have to dislike France. I like Country French furniture and L’oreal haircolor, and I am a fan of brie cheese and French Christmas Carols. But ever since Feckless Chirac has so disgusted me, it’s been difficult-to-impossible to really enjoy using my dining room set, munch on the cheese or really sing out all those Gloria in excelsis deo’s.

Now, CUANAS has given me leave to wash away the grey and belt out the hymns with some joy and vigor, as he shines a light on a little-known documentary that addresses something that I’d touched on myself a week or so ago. It seems a French filmmaker has done something important and honest and most welcome:

Sez CUANAS: French filmaker Pierre Rehov has produced seven documentaries, over the past four years, which have detailed Israel and it’s relations with the Palestinians. The kicker here is, he tells the truth.

Six months ago, filmmaker Pierre Rehov sat in an Israeli jail, interviewing a 16-year-old Palestinian. The boy wanted to be a martyr, he told Rehov, because “the Jews killed the prophet Mohammed.” Told that this is not in the Koran, the illiterate boy insisted that it was. He wanted nothing but to die in the act of murdering others.

Rehov’s forthcoming film, Suicide Killers, will be the seventh in a series of documentaries on Israel produced since 2000. In that year, on September 30, Rehov flipped on the television at his home in France and saw photographs of young Mohammed Al Durrah. As an experienced filmmaker, Rehov recalls, he realized instantly that “news” of the child’s death at the hands of Israeli soldiers in Gaza had been faked.
He recognized in the Al Durrah story traits of the false charges leveled against Jews throughout history. In 2000, Rehov had just finished researching a book project on a 12th-century blood libel — one of the first ever — against the Jews. In March 1144, a tanner’s apprentice named William was found murdered in Norwich, England. Blame landed on the Jewish people. On Passover, it was rumored, Jews seized Christian children and drained their blood to bake in matzo (unleavened Passover bread).

The frequency of such charges against the Jews increased throughout medieval times. In the Islamic world, too, blood libels sparked anti-Semitism, most notably in Damascus in 1840. Scholars like Jacques Ellul believe that such legends actually originated in Islam and passed to Europe during the Crusades. The West in our time largely rejects blood libel as myth, yet it remains a fixture in Islamic societies.

“I got into films because of Mohammed Al Durrah,” Rehov said this week, on the eve of a three-night New York City film festival that drew more than 600 spectators and generated dozens of news articles on the French filmmaker.

Rehov’s newest film explores the motivations of suicide killers. “I interviewed a few cases of survivors of terror — young, beautiful girls. But the deeper I got into the film, the more I realized that I did not want to make a film like everyone else,” he says now. “This will not be a film about how you build a new life. What every one wanted to talk about,” — and the thing that ultimately captivated Rehov as well — “was the smile and the behavior of the terrorist before he blew himself up. I wanted to be in him; I wanted to know what he feels the second before detonating.”

So Rehov has interviewed psychologists, political analysts, religious scholars and others to discuss the psychopathology of the bombers. Unexpectedly, he found that sexuality has a great deal to do with it. “In their society, young men are forbidden to have a real relationship with a woman. So when you ask them what they are going to become, they are not trying to become engineers, doctors or professionals. Their entire society believes that a man becomes a hero by blowing himself up. They believe that the next second, they are in heaven, surrounded by women. It is pure sexual fantasy.”

You can read the whole excellent article, written by Alyssa A. Lappan, here.

UPDATE: But because we must still keep an eye on France, news of their collective sense of depression or ennui, or whatever should be given some attention. Apparently the prefects understand that part of France’s problem is it no longer believes in anything (Astounding! The nation that spawned Joan of Arc, Therese of Liseiux, The Cure’ of Ars and so many others now believes in nothing…) but the issue is about more than a lack of religious faith or fervor:

“France has been anxious about its future, about its way of life, for the last 30 years, ever since the employment crisis and doubts about identity, ever since the absence of clear perspectives and collective projects.”

Ah…the absense of clear perspectives and collective projects. Yes. When everything is “relative” perspective becomes fuzzy. When one works for nothing larger than oneself, one stagnates. When mediocrity offers the same rewards as excellence, excellence dies.

Or, to be clear: Socialism does not work. It never has. It never will. It stomps, and destroys and leaves nothing beautiful in its wake.

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