Can Movies Lose Wars?

This is a tale of two cultures. Both cultures are faced with the threat of Islamic terrorism. Both have watched their soldiers fight and die. Both have watched their citizens burn alive.

But one culture has rejected a far-left film establishment that seeks to undermine its war on terror – the other has embraced it.

The first culture – the culture that rejects its morally relativistic artists – is America. The second culture – the culture that accepts and encourages its morally relativistic artists – is Israel.

Hollywood may make tons of movies like In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, and Stop-Loss, but those movies tank. Tel Aviv makes similar movies, and those movies are considered the greatest film achievements of the Jewish State.

There’s a reason for that: while Hollywood believes American exceptionalism is passé, most Americans disagree. By contrast, Tel Aviv believes that Zionism is passé – and that post-Zionist attitude has infected much of the Israeli populace.

It’s no wonder that America is winning its war on terror, while Israel is losing hers.

Let’s take just one example: Body of Lies vs. Waltz with Bashir.

DiCaprio and Crowe star in

Body of Lies had all the elements of a hit. Exciting action. Solid direction by Ridley Scott. Two first-rate stars in Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.

And it bombed.

It bombed because watching Body of Lies was like watching an in-depth investigation by Al Jazeera. The movie did its best to equate American counter-terrorism efforts with Islamic terrorism.

Body of Lies opens with shots of Americans – led by CIA operative Leo DiCaprio — beating a terrorism suspect bloody. Near the end of the movie, as Leo is being tortured by an Islamic terrorism, he flashes back to beating an Islamic terrorist. The implication is clear: the US and its enemies aren’t so different, after all.

That’s not a message Americans really want to hear. We understand that our enemies are murderous thugs, and by and large, we also understand that we may need to hurt them in order to get information from them.

It’s no wonder, then, that Body of Lies was more of a sinking ship than Titanic.

It’s a different story in Israel.

The hottest new movie in Israel is Waltz with Bashir. The movie has already won Best Picture from the Israeli Film Academy, Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics, Best Animated Film from the Los Angeles Film Critics, and Best Independent Foreign Film from the British Independent Film Awards.

Waltz with Bashir is an animated post-Zionist journey into the mind of a former IDF soldier who fought in the 1982 Lebanon War. It follows his investigation into what really happened during the Lebanon War, and it culminates in the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, in which the Israeli Defense Forces failed to prevent Christian Phalangists from killing 700-800 Palestinians in those refugee camps. The Phalangist attack was a response to the Islamist killing of Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel.

The film neglects to mention that only 35 out of the 700-800 killed were women and children – the rest were men, which suggests that most of those killed were in fact members of the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization.

In short, Waltz with Bashir is the Israeli version of Body of Lies, with less realistic action and more psychotherapy.

In America, this sort of self-indulgent caterwauling is scorned by the mass public. In Israel, everyone’s just pleased to be accepted by the Europeans for engaging in such self-abnegation.

The film community in the United States may skew heavily to the left. It may see its true mission as reshaping American foreign policy along European lines. And it may make anti-war films with that mission in mind. But the American public rejects the Hollywood view. We want more Saving Private Ryan and less Redacted. We want more We Were Soldiers and less Rendition.

In Israel, the film community skews far left as well. But Israel embraces those films. Since 1948, Israeli film has been heavily focused on undermining Israelis’ patriotism – and Israelis have bought into it.

Film has an impact. It’s no wonder that so many Israelis are disillusioned with their state. It’s no wonder that they’re apologetic for defending themselves. It’s no wonder they keep trying to make amends for wrongs they haven’t committed. It’s no wonder they love Waltz with Bashir.

In America, it isn’t too late. The American film industry may ignore its profit margin in favor of trendy pacifism, but such willful blindness can only last so long. Eventually, Americans will demand to see movies that champion America. Americans won’t let their children be convinced by nonsense like Body of Lies.

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