I am a huge fan of Woody Allen. When I was a kid I became an instant fan watching him clown around in films like Sleeper and Bananas, and in my late teens I became addicted to his more serious films like Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanours. I’ve seen pretty much every film he’s made, and even though I have been disappointed on several occasions, I think he is a true artist and I always find his films interesting. I also have recordings of his standup comedy from the 60s and I think it stands up brilliantly against modern comics.
Two nights ago I was watching Israel’s Channel 2 news and naturally my attention spiked when an item about Woody Allen came on. He is currently promoting a new film called Blue Jasmine, and during the press junket in Paris he was interviewed briefly by channel 2 journalist Lior Friedman. You can see the item here.
Some of it is in Hebrew, but of course the interview portions are in English.
Now it’s natural on one of these press junkets for the interviewer to ask first about the movie (thats why they do these things – in order to sell tickets) and then to ask a question or two specific to the interviewer’s audience. If they didn’t do this, what would be the point of a director or actor sitting through exactly the same interview 50 times?
At around 3 mins in the video clip, Lior Friedman asks Woody if its hard to be a Jew in America. Woody politely answers:
No, I don’t think so, America has always been… you know, by the low standards of tolerance for Jews around the world…. America has been a very tolerant country.
He then continues;
I will agree with you on this – I do feel that there are many people that disguise their negative feelings towards Jews, disguise it as anti-Israel criticism… political criticism… when in fact what they really mean is they don’t like Jews.
That statement is not difficult to interpret. Woody Allen believes that some people – perhaps many – disguise their dislike of Jews as criticism of Israel. It also seems like there may have been more talk about the subject that ended up on the cutting room floor since he states “I will agree with you”, apparently he is referring to another question or statement by Lior Friedman since in the piece aired on the news there is no other talk of Israel or Jews.
How is it then that the Jerusalem Post today comes up with an article with this headline?
Woody Allen says criticizing Israel is anti-Semitism in disguise
Worse still, from the article:
Jewish Hollywood big-shot Woody Allen says there is no difference between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
No, Lauren Iszo, he did not say that at all!! It is an enormous leap from Woody Allen acknowledging “many people” to a blanket statement that Woody Allen categorically equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
And furthermore, I would like to ask this question: Since when has journalism degenerated to the point where journalists are simply sitting at home and watching the news and then writing a report based on another journalist’s work?
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post article has been completely rewritten to correct my criticisms. I am convinced it was because of the comments I left but I don’t know for sure. At least someone was paying attention. You can see the original headline reflected in the URL title: http://www.jpost.com/Arts-and-Culture/Arts/Woody-Allen-says-criticizing-Israel-is-anti-Semitism-in-disguise-328824
But this leads me to another gripe. Once upon a time newspapers and reputable news organisations had to publish retractions and apologies for their inaccuracies. Nowadays they just edit the article as if nothing ever happened. How about we demand, as consumers of news, that they include the article’s publishing history so we can see the changes? Wouldn’t that be in everybody’s best interest?