Propaganda, French Style

Here is a story from The Media Line that is sure to make you sick to your stomach. A French filmmaker has made a documentary on the first woman suicide bomber, Wafa Idris. The film is, of course, pro-palestinian.

The first of the female bombers, 25-year-old Wafa Idris from Ramallah, was an attractive and intelligent girl, who volunteered for the Red Crescent – the Arab equivalent of the Red Cross.

By way of coincidence, French filmmaker Patrick Chauvel filmed Idris while making a documentary on the Red Crescent, two months before she blew herself up in Jerusalem in 2002. After the bombing, he shifted the focus of his film to concentrate on Idris’s personality and acquaintances. The final version of the 26-minute-long film was fully dubbed into Arabic and has been broadcast on Al-‘Arabiyya television.

The documentary showed interviews with Idris’s co-workers and with residents of the refugee camp in which she lived, including her mother. Another interviewee was Marwan Barghouthi, head of the Fatah organization in the West Bank at the time.

A recording of the second female suicide bomber was also shown in the film before she set out for her final mission.

Interviewees on the Israeli side were the wife of Pinhas Tokatli, a victim of Idris’s bombing, and his neighbor.

The question posed by Patrick Chauvel at the beginning of his film was “How does a lively young girl decide to turn into #47 on a list of suicide bombers?”

The answer emerges through the making of the film. Chauvel shows Israeli tanks invading Palestinian cities; pictures of charred cars after the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] attempted assassinations and a segment with Marwan Barghouthi talking about the phenomenon. “Years ago, Hamas and the other factions could not find even one suicide bomber,” said Barghouthi. “Now you can find hundreds of people everywhere who are willing to do that, and why? Because of Israeli barbarity…”

Apart from Tokatli’s wife and neighbor, no other Israelis were interviewed for the movie.

A member of the Red Crescent staff is later quoted saying, “Life has become impossible. I leave the house and don’t know if I will return.” Viewers can clearly identify with his feelings, especially when pictures of Israeli tanks in Arab cities run throughout the film. There were no interviews of average Israeli civilians who fear to ascend a bus or walk into a coffee shop.

It should be made clear, however, that the producer had no intentions of making a balanced film portraying the situation on both sides. He only wished to show the activity of the Red Crescent – and was compelled to shift the plot following the attack carried out by a member of the organization.

The result, even if not the original intention, is a biased film that portrays the Palestinian perspective alone. The documentary-like nature of the film creates a sense of authenticity; the pictures shown are not staged, and this is precisely the film’s strong point.

What is it with the French? Are they intrinsically anti-Semitic?

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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