Shutting down the show

Lebanese moviegoers' right to see a movie is being denied them by a group of intolerant activists

January 17, 2018 21:38
3 minute read.
Steven Spielberg on the set of "Schindler's List."

Steven Spielberg on the set of "Schindler's List.". (photo credit: HBO)

What was Steven Spielberg’s crime? Was it that he filmed parts of the 1993 film Schindler’s List, which tells the story of a German businessman who saved Jews during the Holocaust, in Israel? Was it because he filmed parts of the film Munich, a critical look at the Mossad, in Israel? Maybe it’s because Spielberg donated money to Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

There are organizations made up of ideological boors that spend their time following these sorts of things and notifying governments sympathetic to the global hate campaign against Israel.

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For instance, it was a group calling itself the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon that gave the Lebanese government a heads-up about the planned screening of the newest Spielberg film in Lebanon. This is the same organization that was behind the successful campaign to ban Wonder Woman because Gal Gadot is an Israeli who served in the IDF.

The film that Lebanese were to be deprived of seeing this time, until the ban was overturned on Wednesday, is called The Post. It was directed by Spielberg and tells the story of The Washington Post’s uncovering of the Nixon administration’s lies about the US’s involvement in Vietnam.

Another film banned in Lebanon is Jungle, an Australian film starring Daniel Radcliffe. Lebanon’s censorship apparatchiks have deemed Jungle worthy of a ban because an Israeli, Yossi Ghinsberg, is behind it. The film is based on a book by Ghinsberg relating his experiences trekking through the jungles of Bolivia. Radcliffe recently told an Israeli news channel that he worked hard perfecting his Israeli-tinged English to play Ghinsberg.

Ideologues are a tiresome bunch of party poopers who have no qualms about denying other people the right to enjoy culture and entertainment in the name of a tedious dogma. In this case it is the conviction that any creative activity involving Israel, even in the most tangential way, is justification for setting in motion a bureaucratic process that shuts down the transmission of this creativity.

No matter that films such as The Jungle or Wonder Woman have nothing whatsoever to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is not even all that clear why Spielberg’s films are being banned.

What is clear is that the Lebanese, not Spielberg, Radcliffe or the makers of Wonder Woman, are the ones who are paying the price for the dogmatism of the BDS crowd, on a number of levels. Wonder Woman is a box office smash and Spielberg was hardly dependent on the Lebanese for his success.

In contrast, Lebanese moviegoers are being denied access to entertainment. Their right to see a movie is being denied them by a group of intolerant activists who have taken upon themselves the prerogative to decide for others which movies they can watch and which they cannot.

Of course, it is impossible to really censor these films, since anyone with Internet access can watch them. And this only emphasizes the absurdity of the ban.

The ban does hurt the property rights of business people who bought the distribution rights to show films such as Wonder Woman and Jungle in Lebanese theaters. Apparently Jungle had already started being shown in cinemas around Lebanon when it was pulled. The owners of the cinemas and the distributors are being forced to lose money.

It never ceases to amaze how hatred for Israel in some Muslim countries is allowed to eclipse all other concerns. Basic freedoms are thrown by the wayside, ideologues are allowed to impose their dictates, absurd connections are made between an actress’s background or a director’s choice of location. Towing the ideological line blindly without any recourse to reason is the way the ban work. Anyone attempting to point out its ludicrousness is shouted down as a Zionist.

Perhaps one day a modicum of normalcy will characterize relations between Israel and Lebanon. Until then tedious ideologues will continue to run the show, or rather shut down the show.

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