An anonymous on-line petition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which so far has been signed by 4,313 people in Israel and abroad, calls upon the academy to withdraw the film Paradise Now
from the list of nominations for best foreign film.
Directed by Israeli-born Hany Abu-Assad from a screenplay he wrote with Dutch producer Bero Beyer, and starring Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman, Paradise Now
chronicles 48 hours in the lives of two young men in Nablus who are sent on a suicide mission to Israel. After one of the two terrorists decides at the last minute to return home, the film ends with his friend sitting on a Tel Aviv bus with an explosive belt tied to his body - moments before the inevitable explosion.
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The film, which was released last year, has already won numerous international awards, including the European Film Academy's Best Screenplay award, the Berlin Festival's Blue Angel award, and the Golden Globe for best foreign language film.
The petition argues that Paradise Now
legitimizes mass murder, and portrays the murderers themselves as victims.
"Hundreds of innocent men, women and children have been murdered by 'Palestinian' suicide-murderers in the past few years," the petition reads. "Giving an Oscar to this movie will glorify these murderers and the groups that have sent them. It may even encourage more murders of this type."
The petition also includes a letter written by Yossi Zur, the father of 17-year-old Assaf Zur, who was killed in a suicide bombing on a Haifa bus in March 2003.
"What makes this movie award-worthy?" Zur asked. "Would the people that awarded this movie the Golden Globe do the same if the movie was about young people from Saudi Arabia who learn how to fly airplanes in the USA and then use Islamic rituals to prepare themselves for their holy mission, crashing their airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City? Would this movie get an award then?
"Granting an award to this kind of movie gives the filmmakers a seal of approval to hide behind. Now they can say that the world sees suicide bombing as legitimate. By ignoring the film's message and the implications of this message, those that chose to award this film a prize have become part of the evil chain of terror and accomplices to the next suicide murders - whether they kill 17 people or 17,000 people."
Writer, journalist and polemicist Irit Linur was one of four readers assigned by the Israeli Film Fund to read the script of Paradise Now
when its producers applied to it for funding prior to the movie's production.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday, Linur spoke strongly against the completed film.
Linur argued that the film was pervaded by Christian and anti-Semitic symbolism that had little to do with Islam, and seemed to stem rather from the new anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric of the European left. What motivated the narrative of the film, she said, was not so much the ideology of the Muslim martyr, but rather the Christian narrative of a hero who sacrifices himself to atone for the sins of others.
Linur also pointed out that according to internationally accepted conventions, the nationality of a film is usually determined by the country that invested in it - and that while the film was categorized by the academy as representing Palestine, it was produced with European funds, by an Israeli-Arab director.
The film's Israeli producers could not be reached for comment.