Q&A: Julian Schnabel On Politics Of ‘Miral’

Miral, an adaptation of Rula Jebreal’s coming of age story of an orphaned Palestinian girl growing up in the wake of the Arab-Israeli War, has become a hot button film for director Julian Schnabel. When the painter/filmmaker showed the film to the MPAA, he got an R for upsetting images (he was able to have the rating overturned to PG-13). Before showing it at the United Nations this week, he had to first respond to a public letter of protest from the American Jewish Committee. Here, Schnabel  discusses his personal awakening to Israel’s controversial settlement policy, one he feels has turned Palestinians into second class citizens in the name of security.

DEADLINE: Were any members of the American Jewish Committee at the screening?
SCHNABEL: I asked from the stage and no one responded.  I invited them and thought it would be good for them to see it. It was such a beautiful evening, a 45-foot screen in the middle of the General Assembly. There were 1600 people. Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Steve Buscemi and Josh Brolin showed up in solidarity, along with artists like Ross Bleckner, David Salle. And Vanessa Redgrave, who a long time ago got in a lot of trouble for saying something in support of Palestinian people at the Oscars. I remember being a kid when she said that, and everybody being so pissed off, saying just because you’re an actress getting an award doesn’t mean you should have a thought or a political point of view. I think Paddy Chayevsky said that. He was a brilliant, but it’s very easy to pick on somebody who speaks up.

DEADLINE: Why was it important for you to show Miral there?
SCHNABEL: That’s the platform for dialogue for the whole world. It’s the place where conflicts are sorted out, and it’s where Israel was born in 1948. There is a global non-violent revolution going on in the Middle East, with dictators falling everywhere because people want to be free. It’s true not only in countries that have been in the news, but also in Israel. I think a non-violent Democratic revolution is coming. Young people are tired of their leaders, tired of Hamas, tired of leaders who have been representing the Palestinians. Israelis are tired, and many Jewish people are tired of the leaders leading that country. We need a statesman over there, not a politician. Netanyahu isn’t going to solve anything when he exacerbates things by saying they’re going to build more settlements because people are killed.

DEADLINE:  You mean his reaction to the terrorist murder of a Jewish family in the settlement while they slept?
SCHNABEL:  I feel terrible those people were killed, but to justify it with that creates more hate. For President Obama to veto the notion that it would be illegal to do that, I’m extremely disappointed in him. He’s a guy I believe in. I loved when he came out initially against the settlements and his speech in Egypt generated the sense of possibility for democracy. He gives great speeches, but what the hell is going on? We can’t let the Jewish lobby create this blind, blanket support of something that’s inhumane. We’re not free, as long as that continues. My mother was the head of Hadassah, and I believe in the Jewish homeland as a democratic place, but for everyone who lives there. You shouldn’t have to be Jewish to be free in Israel. The Palestinians are not our enemies. The whole civil society is held hostage by fanatics on both sides. Young people, Israelis and Palestinians, just want to be able to go to school and come home at the end of the day and not get blown up. There are a lot of young people who are soldiers and don’t want to be soldiers. Does anyone want to be a soldier?

DEADLINE: No, but there are undeniable security concerns behind this. Having made the movie, what do you think the answer is for a peaceful solution in the settlement areas?
SCHNABEL: First of all, they have to stop building these settlements. Take them out. That’s not a military solution, it has to be a humanitarian solution. It is like black people living in the United States in 1960. It is apartheid, that’s what it’s like over there. It is shocking. I didn’t want to say these things when I made the movie. I wanted people to look at the movie as a work of art. But now I see it as a vessel, about opening your heart, understanding, and non-violent solutions. There are things that are controversial in the film, things that are shocking to see. But it is so light in the context of what really goes on. Under the guise of state security, a little girl can’t go to school. The orphanage depicted in the film had 3000 girls at its peak, and there’s hardly anybody in it now. Because of the wall, the security fence that goes all around these illegal settlements and makes life impossible for the Palestinian people. It kills any kind of industry they could have. Only Jewish people can drive to Jerusalem in 15 minutes. These other people, it takes hours for them to get anywhere. It is totally dehumanizing and unacceptable. I was so ashamed of my people, so ashamed to see somebody throw a rock at a young man, hit him in the head, while two soldiers are watching. A young Hasidic kid throws a rock at a Palestinian guy, who hits the ground. And soldiers are standing there, watching this happen, and they don’t do anything. Our tax dollars are paying for this. The government is paying for two soldiers for every settler.

DEADLINE: Why does an American filmmaker who’s Jewish take on subject matter like this that is told from the perspective of a Palestinian?
SCHNABEL: When I read this book by Rula Jebreal, what struck me was it was about a family. This could happen to anybody. This little girl, her mother commits suicide. Her father, who’s much older and not really her biological father, feels she can be saved if she goes to this school. The school was started in 1948, after the Deir Yassin Massacre, which I’d never heard of. The Irgun and the Haganah together wiped out a village and the Palestinians left because they were terrified they were going to be killed. I said to Rula, what did the Arabs do to the Jews for that to happen? She said, what do you mean? Well, it was a concept of depopulation. And when the Palestinians left, Nasser says, “Leave, and we’ll kill all the Jews and then you can come back.” That was a terrible, idiotic thing to say. It created the most famous line everybody spouts, that “they just want to push the Jews into the sea.” Basically because we have such a fear– we say “never again” about the Holocaust– there’s this overcompensation and it’s a justification for inhumane brutality. The battle is so uneven over there that we have just become barbarians. I spent January to June making this film all over Israel. Being there, there’s just such a flagrant disrespect for the dignity of the Palestinian people there.  It’s really like they are not even second class citizens. It is shocking.

DEADLINE: How were you treated, a Jewish filmmaker shooting in Jerusalem on this subject matter?
SCHNABEL:  When I was shooting, I was treated in an excellent way. The mayor of Jerusalem said, ‘How can I help?’ I said, “Don’t ask me too many questions, just let me do what I need to.” He said, “Will you make Jerusalem look beautiful?” I said yes. I don’t think a Jewish person has ever been in Al-Aqsa Mosque, but they let me shoot there. We closed the streets to shoot around the Lions Gate, and doing that is crazy. The mayor of Jerusalem said he was proud, that this showed we are the only democracy in the Middle East where this could happen. I agree, but democracy has to be for everybody, not just Jewish people. We’ve been the object of prejudice for such a long time, we understand that better than anybody. But people don’t want to know that’s going on. Is it a crime to talk about it, or is it a crime to do it? As American Jews, we need to question the Jewish lobby. We need to stop giving the money to the Israelis to build these settlements.  I’m telling you Mike, if you and I were standing there, in Hebron, watching, you would be mortified. There are children who have to walk to school through a graveyard at 4 o’clock in the morning because they’ll get beat up if they walk through town.  My mother told me, go to Israel when you have your Bar Mitzvah, you’ll have this special feeling. I didn’t do it at the time. I want to have that special feeling my mother talked about. This is our homeland. But to be our homeland, we have to live with the people who were there before, in a Democratic way. We can’t just take. Sharon said, “You have to grab every bit of land you can. What we don’t take, is theirs.” It’s a quote. What kind of leadership is that? My goal was not to show that horrible things are happening. I condemn all violence, I don’t condone it on either side. There’s a moment in the film where this young girl sees a building being knocked down, everybody watching. There was a supposed terrorist who was the son of the people who lived in the building or the guy lived next door, but under the guise of state security, this building had to be knocked down. The day Obama was inaugurated, in East Jerusalem they knocked down 50 houses, and moved these Palestinian people to other places to live. Doesn’t that sound weird?

DEADLINE: Why did they knock down the 50 houses?
SCHNABEL: Good question. You should ask the mayor of Jerusalem.

DEADLINE: You say do away with those settlements. What do you put instead?
SCHNABEL: In my movie, at the time of the Oslo agreement, there is an activist who changes his mind about what he’s doing and is killed by Palestinians because he wants peace. He says, I don’t care about a one state solution or a two state solution, I just want to have a family, children. He says something that came from a guy who was in jail for 17 years. “When I was in jail I realized that my jailer’s fears were the same as mine. Our allies are not the Arab regimes, and not the United Nations, they’re the Israelis themselves.”  There are many Israelis that feel this way. I saw it because I worked there with Israelis whose kids are going to school with Palestinian kids in experiments where people live together, and it is working. It can work. In the movie, the young girl sees the demolition in the refugee camp, and she gets involved with a political group. All the kids did this. These groups start as peaceful manifestations that got exacerbated into violence. Anybody who witnessed these things could fall into the same trap; it’s just the way things work.

DEADLINE: Controversy always helps sell movies on serious subjects. Is the provocative reception an opportunity or a burden?
SCHNABEL: It’s a platform. I didn’t understand the implications at the beginning of this journey. I never make a movie to illustrate what I already knew, I make a movie to find out about my subject, whether it’s discovering Cuba by making Before Night Falls or learning about locked-in syndrome making The Diving Bell And The Butterfly. I won a Sloan Award  for science. I don’t know a damn thing about science but I know how to ask questions.

DEADLINE: Contrast your own view of the occupation before, and how you feel now after making this movie?
SCHNABEL: It was an epiphany. I was totally naïve, totally in the dark and I believe so many of the American Jewish population are totally in the dark. We cannot believe that a Jewish person would behave like that. It’s not the Jewish way. We have suffered so much that if anybody should understand the Palestinian problem, it should be Jewish people. It was so disappointing and ashamed at certain moments. I was at the airport one day, leaving with Rula. I respect the security, when they check your bags. But they took her bags and put them through an X-ray machine not once but three times. We went to a second checkpoint and they made her strip and, the last minute, let her come on the airplane Jon Kilik and I were taking. And it felt just like apartheid, there was absolutely no reason for it. It was pure racism and prejudice. It was cruel and I was ashamed of everybody in that airport. We went to Egypt, where she did a television program because she’s a political analyst. She asked questions, and people from the regime censored her. She did not find paradise over there, either. There was a guy from state security who actually said, you can’t put that on television. Another time, she was told people would be arrested if she did. The people in Egypt couldn’t take that anymore. We basically have a democracy in Israel that deals with a dictator like Mubarak, who supports the borders.  And you’ve got maybe 1.5 million people living in Gaza in what are open air prisons. Last week, a couple of fisherman got too close to the line where they’re not supposed to be, and they were shot. What kind of a thing is that? Is that human?  But I didn’t know a damned thing about any of this before.  This film is disruptive, but it’s about making peace and creating empathy.  I told the story as best I could, and I’m responsible for everything I’ve done and everything I’ve said. That’s the difference between an artist and a journeyman filmmaker. If controversy helps people see this film, I’m okay with that.

DEADLINE: Where do you go from here?
SCHNABEL: I want this film to have its moment in the sun, I want critics and journalists to write about it. Then I want to paint a lot, just paint and not make another movie for awhile.

Comments (96)

  • I am not Isreali or Jewish but Mr Schnabel is a bright light for peace in the middle east. I will see this movie.

    Comment by hollyvet — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 10:41am PDT  
    • Jordan is 70% of the historic Palestine. It was created by the Brits after WWI and later bequeathed to the Hashemite kingdom, which is originally from Saudi Arabia. The majority of Jordan are Palestinian people.

      Why is Jordan not considered a “Palestinian state” or homeland? Why are so many Palestinian people denied citizenship in Jordan? Where is Julian Schnabel or President Carter on Arab apartheid?

      It’s easy to pick on Israelis because they are a smaller group, and Jews are so desperate for approval.

      Comment by Isabel — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 7:24pm PDT  
      • Because what you’re saying is not true. Today’s Jordan is not 70% of historical Palestine but 70% of so-called British Mandate of Palestine, which is very different thing. Historical Palestine is area between Mediterranean and Jordan river…

        Comment by Mirek — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 7:55am PDT  
        • There was never any “historical Palestine.” The Romans renamed Judea to “Syria-Palestina” after crushing the third and final Jewish revolt in 135AD. From 1516 to 1918 the area was in the Ottoman Empire, but it was not a single administrative unit. It was divided into four Turkish disricts (sanjaqs). “Palestine” did not exist on any TURKISH map from 1516 to 1918. It existed on European maps, because the Romans and later Europeans sometimes called it Palestine, but never by the Turks.

          Jerusalem was never the seat of any Muslim caliphate nor capital of any Arab or Muslim state. In fact, Jerusalem has been majority Jewish sicne the 1840s, or for some 160 years. Again, there never was a “historical Palestine” period!

          Comment by jgarbuz — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 5:29pm PDT  
      • If Jews were so desperate for approval (this, I gotta say, is a new one), there would be a Palestinian state from the occupied territories to the Mediterranean sea. Hell, there probably would be no Israel, since so many people don’t approve of it.
        Jews are desperate for security, which is why there is not yet a Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

        Comment by I've Had It With Hollywood — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 1:04pm PDT  
  • I think Vanessa Redgrave spoke out in 1978 at the Oscars, which would put Schnabel well into his 20s…hardly just a kid. Great interview, though. It’s annoying to see people judge films before even watching them.

    Comment by Ed — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 10:46am PDT  
  • Gotta give him credit for having the balls to make a film likes this. Hopefully people see this film and start thinking.

    Comment by Berg — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:08am PDT  
    • Schnabel operates from his dick not his balls. Check out his hot hot girl friend. Rula Jebreal, who wrote the book for the movie on Google. I would sell my mother my family and betray my people for a hot Palestinian babe like that. as well.

      Comment by Joshua Neustein — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 11:24am PDT  
      • Clearly he discovered the Palestinian issue through his girlfriend who is Palestinian. But, who cares? If you are homophobic until you meet someone who is gay and become friends with them and see them in a new way, is that wrong? If you are Islamophobic until you have a Muslim neighbour and you realize they are not bad people and you see them in a new way, is that wrong? I don’t get how you can delegitimize what he’s saying which is 100% true (I’ve been to Israel and Gaza and the West Bank also) just because he has a hot Palestinian girlfriend. I have a hot Palestinian girlfriend too, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to speak out against what is wrong.

        Comment by Joseph — Friday March 18, 2011 @ 3:40am PDT  
  • DEADLINE: Contrast your own view of the occupation before, and how you feel now after making this movie?

    SCHNABEL: It was an epiphany. I was totally naïve, totally in the dark and I believe so many of the American Jewish population are totally in the dark. We cannot believe that a Jewish person would behave like that. It’s not the Jewish way. We have suffered so much that if anybody should understand the Palestinian problem, it should be Jewish people.

    Truer words were never said. Bravo for Julian he’s a mensch. Some will accuse him of being a “self-hating Jew” but the truth is he’s the ideal Jew he has achieved perfection as a Jew with this film.

    Comment by Jewish American — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:20am PDT  
    • Where does is say that “anti-Israeli politics” makes you a self-hating Jew?
      Best quote, “It is apartheid, that’s what it’s like over there. It is shocking.” Now when former President Jimmy Carter made a similar statement he was taken to task.

      The U.S. is on the wrong side of EVERYTHING in the Middle East/Africa… South Africa’s apartheid state shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did; as the U.S.’s so-called sanctions didn’t do anything (when have they ever worked? It just hurts the man on the street, not the regime.”

      The Jewish people were dealt a terrible blow when it came to the Holocaust and all the mistreatment in Europe that led up to it over the centuries, and yet they turn right back around a treat the Palestinians like they’re living in the Krakow Ghetto this time around. The problem that confronts Israel, on the real, is that the Arab population is growing much, much faster than the Jewish population, so in the next 10 to 15 years it will all be much worse, unless a solution is forged now.

      All U.S. taxpayer money should be suspended from all countries in the Middle East, because it’s a “weak bribe”… witness how well Murbarak “listened” to the US!

      Comment by Ras The Exhorter — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 12:55pm PDT  
    • He’s a tourist, and nothing more. Tourists don’t know anything about any place. You have to actually live and work in a place for many years to fully comprehend what is going on around you. If a tourist came to Brooklyn today, he’d be seeing a very different place from the one I grew up in 50 years ago. EVen if he had read many books, or seen many movies about it, he still couldn’t know the history or why things are the way they are there now.

      When I was a kid I was taught an important fact of life: only believe half of what you see, and none of what you read. The only true teacher is actual experience over a significant period of time.

      Comment by jgarbuz — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 5:34pm PDT  
      • I kinda agree with what you are saying, but when you were taught this “important fact of life,” did you SEE this fact, or did you READ it? Just, um, just wondering…

        Comment by Derek Davidson — Monday April 16, 2012 @ 8:52am PDT  
    • “Ideal Jews”, always wind up getting slaughtered by the very same people they put so much faith in.

      I find it amusing that Schnabel has not yet done a film about the expulsion of 450,000 Palestinians by Kuwait in 1991.

      Or the fact that Palestinians have zero rights at all in countries controlled by their arab brethren like Lebanon…Their own people will not provide them with rights, a homeland, citizenship, but now the *JEWS* on their tiny landing strip of a country should?

      Give me a break.

      the fact is, if the Israelis were 1/16th as mean as the Arabs, all the Arabs (they are not palestinians…they are *ARABS*) would have been pushed out in 1967, and there would be no conflict today.

      I will agree with Schnabel and his “awakening” about Israel, as soon as he returns his summer home in the Hamptons, and his townhouse in New York to the various native american tribes who the land was taken from when we were a young country.

      Of course, Schnabel like most self-hating jews or those ignorant of history, never makes mention that *NONE* of this would have happened if the Arabs, who are so nice, had merely agreed to let the Jews have their one, tiny little strip of land, that was mostly desert in 1948. That was still too much.

      I used to respect Schnabel as an artist. Now, he is just another garden variety propagandist on the Israel-Arab debate.

      Israel does many things wrong, but, as has been shown, at every turn, the Israelis have given back land in order to receive peace: Sinai, Southern Lebanon, Gaza…and they never receive anything back, but rockets.

      Being Jewish for 39 years since birth, I came to the conclusion long ago that I would much rather be disliked and alive with my family, then admired and dead along with all of them.

      Congo, Sudan, Tibet, Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia in Georgia and Chechnya, Bosnia…and too many more numerous conflicts to name, all entirely more vicious and cruel…yet strangely, it always comes back to going after Israel. I wonder why?

      As for Schnabel and others who say the USA is “paying” for settlements…give me a break. Foreign aid is the first thing ignorant anti-Israel folks (jew & gentile alike) blab about.

      The vast majority of aid that Israel receives is military. It is *GUARANTEED* to them under *TREATY* that we sponsored, called the Camp David Accords. You know, that treaty that gave them a cold peace with Egypt? The one where Israel gave back the *ENTIRE* Sinai peninsula that it won fair and square in conflict when the entire Arab world united(again)to wipe them off the map?

      The Israelis gave up territory 5 times the size of its whole country, with oil resources, hundreds of miles of buffer zone, airbases, coastline, port access, just to please the United States, who wanted to bring Egypt out of the Soviet sphere and in to the US Sphere.

      The Egyptians receive military aid under the treaty as well…quite alot, actually.

      Oh, and of course, people like you and Schnabel never mention that *90%* of the military aid we give to Israel must be spent in *AMERICA*. Thus, it is another way to keep US defense workers employed without funding it in the defense budget, since it comes from foreign aid.

      I am so tired of hearing the slanted lies and ignorance of the knee-jerk anti-Israel crowd. Especially Schnabel screening it at the UN…give me a break. That is like screening an anti-New York Yankees film at Fenway Park in Boston. Not exactly an impartial audience.

      Comment by JR — Saturday March 19, 2011 @ 1:27pm PDT  
  • Amen. It needs to be said. And SHOWN.

    Comment by Truth-o-Meter — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:21am PDT  
  • It is worth to note that the film is produced by Harvey Weinstein… I heard him stand up for it in a NPR interview… how will it be received? Which door will open – Peace or Conflict? We live in interesting times…

    Comment by sbob — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:32am PDT  
  • You, Mr. Schnabel, are the blind one. You offer no practical solutions for Palestinians and Israelis to live together. Because there aren’t any. And how can there be when the leaders of the Palestinians WHO THEY VOTED IN are committed to the destruction of the people and the country. Mr. Schnabel, I hate that you have a platform for your warped views.

    But here’s a question for you Mr. Schnabel. What is it about the Palestinian people that prevents them from building their own schools, their own culture in their own land with the billions of dollars the world has provided them? Somehow the Jews walked into the same land, with nothing 60-odd years ago and built one of the greatest democracies in the world. Their only homeland. What have the Palestinians done in the West Bank and Gaza during that time? NOTHING.

    And since Israel is the ONLY Jewish homeland, how does it remain that way if it goes in the direction you’d like with Palestinians and Israelis holding hands singing together. It can’t. You’re like a woman who wants a beautiful wedding but forgets that after that there’s a marriage to commit to.

    As the great Benjamin Netanyahu said, “If the Arabs laid down their weapons today,there would be no more violence. If the Israelis laid down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”

    God bless Israel and may she protected from people like you, Mr. Schnabel.

    Comment by In The Name of Love — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:35am PDT  
    • Israelis who voted in Avigdor Lieberman, Shas, United Torah Judaism, etc. are likewise committed to the destruction of the Palestinian people and their country.

      Also, your generalizing about Arabs suggest you’re probably racist against them.

      Comment by Oy — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 6:30pm PDT  
      • The Jews BUILT “Palestine.” In 1918 there were only 700,000 Arabs in the entire country, from the river to the sea. Today, there are some 12 million of them, half of whom live west of the Jordan river, and the other half outside, in Jordan,Lebanon, and the rest of the world. My own ex-mother in law personally delivered some 10,000 Bedouin children in the first hospital they ever had – Soroka hospital in Beersheba – in the 1970s and ’80s.
        Before 1967, there was not a SINGLE college or university the WEst Bank or Gaza. Today many Palestinians got their college degrees in Israeli prisons. My ex-wife was a social worker in Ayalon prison.
        Israel brought indoor plumbing to east Jerusalem and the WEst Bank. They brought electricity and modernity. If Israel did not exist, the Palestinians would be living at a standard of living closer to Somalia or Afghanistan without oil. Too bad those facts will never show up in any of Schnabel’s flicks.

        Comment by jgarbuz — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 5:42pm PDT  
        • Clearly, Israel has brought some new standards of a modern lifestyle to Palestinians just as any colonizer brings things to the colonized. but what they take is so much more. To imply that giving someone a social work degree after you throw them in prison for being a non violent activist is somehow generous? I don’t know. Let’s say you’re right about this. Israel is a modern state, yes it is. So it’s time to share it with the natives on an equal basis with equal rights.

          Comment by Joseph — Friday March 18, 2011 @ 3:42am PDT  
    • Very well said

      Comment by Denise — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:45pm PDT  
    • “What is it about the Palestinian people that prevents them from building their own schools, their own culture in their own land”

      all of ‘their own land’ is controlled by israel. if they want to build anything they need permits from the israeli government. israel doesn’t permit palestinians to build on ‘their own land’ because israel doesn’t recognize any palestinian land, that is the problem. while the rest of the world considers palestinian land ‘occupied territory’ under international law, israel considers it ‘disputed’.

      Comment by Anonymous — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 10:55am PDT  
      • not just the land, but also the Palestinian water resources, the air space, the coastline and the sea. It’s an illegal occupation, and Israel don’t have a legitimate basis for their rule, according to the opinion of most of the world.

        Comment by Olav — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 3:05pm PDT  
      • How many colleges and universities were there in the West Bank and Gaza when Jordan and Egypt controlled those areas, respectively? And how many are there today, by contrast? I can tell you. At least ten or more today, versus ZERO before 1967.

        Comment by jgarbuz — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 5:44pm PDT  
    • There are plenty of practical solutions in which these two peoples can coexist in peace. In fact, they do it every day in East Jerusalem and inside of Israel’s borders. People on both sides are tired of being afraid, they are tired of the stress and the violence. The situation is untenable. With the political will of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (they need to get their act together, true), and the financial, diplomatic and political commitment of the US, the Arab League, and the EU, the existence of an independent Palestinian state in peace with its neighbor Israel is entirely possible. That some Jews like you can’t live in peace without taking comfort in strident paranoia is a different story.
      By the way, what billions are you talking about? Who has given the Palestinian billions? The Arab countries don’t because it is in their best interest to make Israel the region’s scapegoat. The Arab countries are a great part of what is keeping the Palestinians oppressed. True. Israel cannot be expected to sacrifice everything and make every overture. The Arab nations and the terrorist groups they sponsor must renounce violence and accept Israel’s right to exist. But Israel cannot continue debasing and choking itself with the occupation.
      There are many proud Jews like me, in America and abroad, that want Israel not only to survive, but to thrive as a proud democratic nation in the world. Intransigent, irrational and ignorant attitudes like yours are what is going to end up destroying that country.
      You know what’s gonna happen, because of people like you? All the smart Israelis are gonna leave, and all the crazy stone age fundamentalists are going to stay and the place is going to become a theocratic dump (Jerusalem is getting there fast). Is that the Israel you want?

      Comment by I've Had It With Hollywood — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 1:30pm PDT  
      • Arafat died a multimillionaire. Where do you think he got that money? His dental practice? All that money that belonged to his people so that his wife could live in Paris and shop at Vuiltton.

        Comment by Anonymous — Friday March 18, 2011 @ 6:47am PDT  
  • And one more thing…if x-raying your Palestinian wife’s bags keeps the the world safe from suicide bombers so be it. Jews don’t blow up planes. Arabs do.

    Comment by Seriously — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 11:42am PDT  
  • “As American Jews, we need to question the Jewish lobby. We need to stop giving the money to the Israelis to build these settlements.”

    Amen, Julian. Far too many of us (Jewish Americans) are blind in our allegiance, as if to be critical of Isreal is to deny our identity, when in fact moral and ethical self-examination is an essential part of who we have always been.

    Comment by Another Jewish American — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 12:04pm PDT  
    • Really? I find Jewish Americans are very independent minded and their views cover the full range of the political spectrum, from Noam Chomsky to Brandeis University students to multiple peace now groups.

      So just because not everyone agrees with your views, don’t call them “blind”.

      Comment by Martine — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 2:11pm PDT  
      • Oh please, Martine, ever spent much time in an Orthodox shul? Many (no, not all, just many) of the sermons are so rabidly right-wing, and defensive of Israel to the exclusion of any sympathy for the Palestinians and Israeli brutality or mistakes. Having grown up in that community AND lived in Israel, I assure you that the victim mentality makes many right wing Jews blind.

        Comment by Anonymous — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 6:35pm PDT  
  • When was the last time that Julian Schnabel and Harvey Weinstein and, that paragon, Vanessa RTedgrave criticized the treatment of women and gays in Iran and Saudi Arabia and half the Arican countries.
    Or citicized the muzzling of the press in Venezuela. Or treatment of gay and dissidents in Cuba?

    As for Julian Schnabel criticizing, of all people, Paddy Chaysfasky: If you’re talking about talent, it’s laughable to put Paddy in the same league as Julian. If you’re talking about self-promotion and self-importance, noone matches Julian.

    Comment by steve — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 12:14pm PDT  
    • The film is about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict you moron. To give anything else precedence (however noble) in an interview would be a diversion and off-topic.

      Comment by Anglophile — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 1:22pm PDT  
    • tu quoque is cheap

      Comment by Some_Say — Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 8:48pm PDT  
    • Schnabel didn’t criticize Chaysfasky’s talent, in fact he called him brilliant.

      Also, is the point of your post “you can only criticize someone/somewhere if you criticize every bad person/place in the world”? That’s foolish, no?

      Comment by Brit — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 6:42am PDT  
    • WELL, He did actually make a film about the treatment of gays in Cuba. He can’t do everything.

      Comment by geoffrey — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 7:36am PDT  
      • And he also did one about the treatment of Basquiat by Andy Warhol. And of a paraplegic by a nurse. Give the guy a break.

        Comment by I've Had It With Hollywood — Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 1:35pm PDT  
  |  More Comments

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.