Monday, March 27, 2006

Too Hot for New York

Too Hot for New York: "Kushner agrees. Having spent five months defending Munich, he says the fear has two sources: 'There is a very, very highly organized attack machinery that will come after you if you express any kind of dissent about Israel's policies, and it's a very unpleasant experience to be in the cross hairs. These aren't hayseeds from Kansas screaming about gays burning in hell; they're newspaper columnists who are taken seriously.' These attackers impose a kind of literacy test: Before you can cast a moral vote on Palestinian rights, you must be able to recite a million wonky facts, such as what percentage of the territories were outside the Green Line in 1949. Then there is the self-generated fear of lending support to anti-Semites or those who would destroy Israel. All in all, says Kushner, it can leave someone 'overwhelmed and in despair--you feel like you should just say nothing.'
Who will tell Americans the Middle East story? For generations that story has been one of Israelis as victims, and it has been crucial to Israeli policy inasmuch as Israel has been able to defy its neighbors' opinions by relying on a highly sympathetic superpower. Israel's supporters have always feared that if Americans started to conduct the same frank discussion of issues that takes place in Tel Aviv, we might become more evenhanded in our approach to the Middle East. That pressure is what has stifled a play that portrays the Palestinians as victims (and thrown a blanket over a movie, Munich, that portrays both sides as victims). I've never written this sort of thing before. How moving that we have been granted that freedom by a 23-year-old woman with literary gifts who was not given time to unpack them."

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