Today, anti-Israel propaganda is all the rage at international film festivals
and on television, world-wide. It passes for the truth and is considered
"brave." In the 1940s, when the media and the American leadership refused to
inform US citizens about the extermination of the Jews, a band of activists took
it upon themselves to get the word out to the American people. Today, I will
follow their inspiring example and make available two documentaries that
honestly and accurately depict the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on my website,
In 1942, Palestinian Jew Peter Bergson (a.k.a. Hillel Kook, the nephew of the
first Chief Rabbi of Israel) and a small band of activists began an
extraordinary and heartbreaking "race against death" as they tirelessly
campaigned for American assistance to rescue the doomed Jews of Europe. When
Kook began, two million Jews had already been exterminated. Tirelessly, Kook
lobbied Congress, staged public and theatrical rallies, and placed paid ads in
the nation's leading newspapers. His ads asked: "They Are Driven to Death Daily,
But Can They Be Saved?" and "How Well Are You Sleeping?"
America's failure to respond was due to the lingering effects of the Great
Depression, nativism, and anti-Semitism. In addition, Kook's efforts were
actively obstructed by the American State Department, the media, (especially the
New York Times), and the leaders of organized American Jewry (especially Rabbi
Stephen Wise, Congressman Sol Bloom, New York state judge Samuel Rosenman,
communal leader Nahum Goldmann and Ira Hirshmann of the War Refugee Board).
However, Kook was backed by Ben Hecht, Max Lerner, media tycoon William
Randolph Hearst, many orthodox rabbis, and many Christian legislators such as
congressman Will Rogers, Jr., and senators Guy Gillette, Edwin Johnson, and
Elbert Thomas. When the New York Times refused to print the truth about
what was happening to the Jews or when they buried it on back pages, Bergson had
Hecht compose eye-catching paid ads in the New York Times and other
In their riveting book, Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America and the
Holocaust, Professors David S. Wyman and Raphael Medoff carefully and
dramatically document all of this. The heart of the book is a
never-before-released twelve-hour interview with Kook himself which Wyman
conducted in 1973. The parallels to today's world are chilling. Actually, in
some ways, the situation today is worse. The propaganda campaign against the
Jews and the Jewish state is far more global and technologically sophisticated.
The receptivity to Big Lies, especially if they are visually presented, is even
greater today than it was sixty-four years ago. Such propaganda not only
flourishes on every continent, especially in the Islamic world, but is
especially favored by progressives, humanitarians, academics, and leftists in
There are about 14 million Jews left in the world. Each and every one, but
the Jews of Israel most of all, are being systematically and perilously
endangered by this non-stop onslaught of propaganda.
The Western media has still not caught on to the way in which Arabs and
Palestinians are systematically using media technology to brainwash people with
simplistic and highly biased versions of reality. Photo opportunity journalism,
staged Israeli shootings and massacres, especially of children, are rampant;
true depictions of Israeli security fence building, Palestinian home
demolitions, and the alleged purposeful killing of political activists (such as
Rachel Corrie of the International Solidarity Movement) are systematically
presented out of context and in totally one-sided ways. The propagandists never,
ever show the numerous acts of kindness and ethical behaviors on the part of the
Israeli Defense Forces nor do they show the systematic slaughter of innocent
Israeli civilians, nearly half of whom are women and children.
The Great Propagandists focus only on the Palestinian "refugees" who are seen
as the innocent victims of Israeli aggression. They never show us the human face
of the true refugees of the Middle East who are (persecuted) Jews from Arab
countries whom Israel absorbed with no help from the UN, or from UNRWA, nor do
they explain that Palestinian suffering is primarily due to corrupt and
murderous Palestinian and Arab leadership. In my view, Israel is definitely and
regrettably responsible for at least 5% of Palestinian suffering; but no more. I
have gone on record over the years, as have many other Jews, protesting this 5%.
It is important not to pretend that 5% responsibility is equal to 95%
On August 12, 2004, HBO will be airing James Miller's BBC/Channel 4 film,
"Death in Gaza," (in Arabic and English) in which he interviewed Palestinian
children only. Presumably, Miller was going to interview Israeli children too
but he never did. Miller's widow, Sophy, has gone on record accusing the
Israelis of purposely killing him on his last day of shooting in Gaza; if this
was indeed his last day then perhaps Miller did not plan to interview any
Israeli children after all.
After his death, Miller's wife and colleagues finished the film for him, and
began a campaign seeking "Justice for James Miller." The film has been aired at
many film festivals to rave reviews. The fact that the script was written by
acclaimed journalist, Saira Shah, with whom Miller worked on "Beneath the Veil,"
which was broadcast by CNN, ensures a devoted and vocal following. Shah, who is
the English-born daughter of an Afghan father, is also the author of the
"Storytellers Daughter," which is a beautifully written book about her search
for her Afghan roots.
Nearly four years ago, propagandists claimed that Israelis purposely killed
the young boy, Mohammed al-Dura; the photo of al-Dura in his father's lap
instantly became the icon for the al-Aqsa Intifada. By now we know that the boy
most definitely was not killed by Israelis; ongoing investigations may soon
reveal that the boy either may not have died at all--or may have been killed by
Palestinians on purpose. Crazy? But what if it's true? Mohammed Bakri's film "Jenin,
Jenin," showed the Israelis committing a massacre there. Like "Death in Gaza,"
Bakri's film has also been acclaimed at numerous film festivals. But, although
Bakri is the darling of the Israeli left, and has been protected by the Israeli
Supreme Court, the film is a lie.
There is only one filmmaker who has presented the truth in the matter of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his nom de guerre is Pierre Rehov. I
interviewed him in my home a few weeks ago. Rehov lives in Paris and, until the
al-Aqsa Intifada, only visited Israel "for fun in Eilat." That changed in 2000.
Since then, he has made six films about the Arab-Israeli conflict and is
currently working on a seventh. When he could not get a distributor in France
for his first film, he simply enclosed it in the copies of the magazine that he
himself distributed monthly in France. Soon, everyone was talking about--and
pirating the film. His "The Road to Jenin" was a huge success on Israeli
Rehov has not yet attracted a network to showcase his six films nor does he
have a distributor in the United States. His latest film, "Hostages of Hatred,"
will be shown at the upcoming Hampton International Film Festival. His films
have been seen in both France and Israel. Indeed, on the anniversary of the Park
Hotel Passover massacre in Netanya (which led to the Israeli incursion into
Jenin), Rehov showed his film about Jenin and dedicated it to the 24 Israeli
soldiers who died going into Jenin on foot from booby-trapped house to
booby-trapped house, vulnerable to sniper-fire every inch of the way. Rehov
invited the families of the dead soldiers and the survivors of the Park Hotel
massacre. He personally fed 400 people. A former chief rabbi of Israel presided
at a Passover seder table which stood in the exact spot where the suicide
terrorist had blown himself and 32 Israelis to pieces. The rabbi said: "The only
time that the blood libel against the Jews was ever true, (that Jews used
non-Jewish blood to make matzot), was here, where the suicide bomber's blood
mingled with Jewish blood on this Passover."
In Peter Bergson's/Hillel Kook's honor I have resolved that I must, in a
small way, act as Kook would have done at this moment in history. Thus, starting
today, on August 11, 2004, my website, (www. phyllis-chesler.com), will be
hosting the recent films of Algerian born Jew, Pierre Rehov. I want those people
who will watch "Death in Gaza" to finally have the option to see "the other
side," in my view the truer side, which Rehov captures in his films. "Silent
Exodus" is about the approximately one million Jews who had to flee Arab
countries and about what their lives were like under Islam before Israel became
a sovereign entity.
"Hostages of Hatred" is a film which primarily interviews
Palestinians--including children--about their views. The hero of "Hostages" is,
perhaps, Bassam-Eid, the Director of Human Rights Monitoring for Palestine who
bravely "tells it like it is." "The Road to Jenin" is Rehov's film about what
really happened in Jenin.
The esteemed Bergson/Kook paid for ads in the NY Times when the major media
(other than Hearst's publications) refused to print the truth. I can do no less.
It is little enough to do. Please view his films at my website. Please send us
your comments. Please help him find a distributor and a network.
Point of Information: I have submitted three of Rehov's films to HBO and
begged them to consider airing any one of them. I have been told that the
process takes from 4-6 weeks. I have also asked for a review copy of "Death in
Gaza." They have promised to get me one but as of this writing, I have yet to
see the film. However, I googled more than 400 descriptions and reviews of it.
*This piece has also been printed in
The Jewish Press, August 11, 2004.
View Pierre Rehov Films