Danielle Berrin: ‘Why can’t Jews handle ‘Miral’?’

Danielle Berrin writes for the Jewish Journal:

Maybe it’s the simple fact that a high-profile film written by a Palestinian is cause enough for Jewish opprobrium. Maybe it’s because the director of the film, Julian Schnabel, is Jewish, and his commitment to any perspective other than the dominant Jewish paradigm is akin to tribal and national betrayal. Maybe it’s because the distributor of the film, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was reared and raised a New York Jew and should know better – haven’t the Jews and their State of Israel had it hard enough?

Or, maybe a cultural malaise has taken hold that’s made it impossible for Jews to empathize with anyone but each other.

That the film ‘Miral,’ a portrait of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen through the eyes of an orphaned Palestinian girl is earning the early ire of mainstream Jewish groups is not at all surprising. It makes perfect sense that a film told from the Palestinian perspective would rouse cries of condemnation from the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and others for being “one-sided” as AJC’s executive director David Harris wrote earlier this week, protesting the screening of the film for the U.N. General Assembly in New York (since when do Hollywood movies have an obligation to objectivity?). Another knee-jerk reaction came from SWC founder Rabbi Marvin Hier who called the screening of the film “anti-Israel” in a widely- released statement.

I think this is the most hateful screed against Jews that the Jewish Journal has ever published.

Until reading Danielle Berrin’s blog post, I had never heard of the film Miral and I suspect that 99% of Jews have not heard of it either.

Can you imagine a headline — “Blacks Can’t Handle XYZ”?

Can you imagine any other people being collectively trashed? But somehow, when it comes to Jews, it’s OK.

If Danielle had been around 2,000 years ago, she might’ve blogged something like this:

Maybe it’s the simple fact that a high-profile rabbi who claims His Kingdom is not of this world is cause enough for Jewish opprobrium. Maybe it’s because this rabbi who claims to be God is Jewish, and His commitment to any perspective other than the dominant Jewish paradigm is akin to tribal and national betrayal. Maybe it’s because supporters of this rabbi were reared and raised as Israeli Jews and should know better – haven’t the Jews and their State of Israel had it hard enough?

May His blood be upon us and upon our children!

Every day you crucify the Lord anew in your unbelief!

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father, the Devil, and your will is to do your father’s desire…. The reason you do not hear the words of God revealed in Jesus is because you are not of God.

Jesus of Nazareth doesn’t have the typical Jewish problem of hating all non-Jews. In fact, his moral crusade to reform the Jews became a bridge both creatively and personally. According to Vanity Fair, He met Mary Magdalen at a party in 29 CE and was so taken with her, He left his wife and committed himself to Mary, to her story, and to her people.

He could no longer stand silent, stand uninvolved, as the Jews destroyed the peace of the world, refusing to listen to any perspective but their own.

Less than a week ago, UCLA junior Alexandra Wallace uploaded a video questioning why some Asians don’t use better manners in the library. For this, she received death threats.

Danielle Berrin does not just dump on some Jews — there’s nothing anti-Semitic in that — but she dumps on Jews as a collective. She hates them as a group and makes far more heinous charges against them than did Wallace against Asians. And for this, Danielle will get a nice check from the Jewish Journal and applause from her peers in Hollywood and there will be no negative consequences to her life and to her career.

I’ve not seen the film in question so I have no opinion on it. What I do have an opinion on is Danielle Berrin’s contempt for Jews as a people because they apparently have not embraced this movie, let alone heard of it.

Danielle’s blog post drips with disdain for Jews as a totality (not just for certain Jewish organizations). Consider her first sentence: “Maybe it’s the simple fact that a high-profile film written by a Palestinian is cause enough for Jewish opprobrium.”

Yeah, I don’t know about you, but with all the Jews I know, they just automatically hate anything done by a Palestinian because all the Jews I know, including myself, are just haters.

Oy, this is such a libel published by Danielle Berrin.

Here’s Danielle’s second sentence: “Maybe it’s because the director of the film, Julian Schnabel, is Jewish, and his commitment to any perspective other than the dominant Jewish paradigm is akin to tribal and national betrayal.”

What “dominant Jewish paradigm”? Danielle evidently thinks most Jews think alike about Israel.

Yeah, all the Jews I know, if they find a Jew who disagrees with them on something about Israel and the Palestinians, they immediately regard the person as a betrayer of the tribe.

Danielle Berrin writes: “Or, maybe a cultural malaise has taken hold that’s made it impossible for Jews to empathize with anyone but each other.”

Yeah, that’s the problem with us Jews. We can’t empathize with anyone but ourselves. That’s why Hitler put us in ovens.

If Jews are anything like what Danielle Berrin describes, then it is no wonder that most Palestinians wants us dead.

Danielle Berrin writes: “Schnabel doesn’t have that problem. In fact, the making of this film became a bridge both creatively and personally. According to Vanity Fair, he met Italian-Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal at a party in 2007 and was so taken with her and the semi-autobiographical book upon which ‘Miral’ is based, he left his wife and committed himself to Jebreal and her story.”

Sounds like a morally lofty guy. We carnal Jews could learn from him.

Here once again the divine savior comes to earth and yet we crucify him!

We must be the earthly embodiment of cosmic evil. How else could we put God to death?

Danielle concludes: “If, as American Jews, we can’t even watch a movie in peace, I fear what that means for the peace prospects of an entire nation—or rather, two.”

Yeah, we Jews, we can’t even watch a film in peace. We’re the devil’s spawn. No wonder everybody hates us.

Or is the Danielle Berrin post a bad parody of this 2005 essay in The Onion?

Do you have a pet peeve—some little thing that drives you completely bonkers? For certain people, it’s the sound of a Jewish person dragging her fingernails across a chalkboard. For others, it’s when Jews don’t signal before making a turn. Me? I can’t stand it when Jews talk during movies!

Last Friday, I knocked off early from work and headed to the multiplex to catch The Pacifier. Sure enough, as soon as the lights go out, a pack of Jews waltzes in and plunks down right in front of me! All through the first preview, they had to have a Jewish debate about where to put their coats and who should hold the Twizzlers. What’s wrong with these idiots? If you want to chat, go to a coffee shop, or that Jewish community center down on Cavendish Avenue.

Where did these people learn to whisper? An Israeli helicopter?

I sure didn’t pay $10 to listen to a group of twits talk back to the screen like those obnoxious Jewish robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000! And apparently, “God’s chosen people” weren’t selected based on their ability to follow plotlines. No wonder they wandered the desert for so many years—they can’t even watch a Vin Diesel movie without getting lost.

Rabbi Irwin Kula loves Danielle Berrin’s essay. He comments:

Thank you very much for quoting me so accurately and for a piece that captures the tragic toxicity that surrounds conversation around the State of Israel in American Jewish life.
Miral is a beautiful film..a true story about a father, an Imam in the Al-Asqua mosque, who is passionately anti-violent, his young daughter who is coming of age, and the effect on them of the perpetual ever-present Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The true story is told from the perspective of a sixteen year old. It is one among myriad of perspectives but it is a personal not a political narrative. MIral invites people to think about how the political narratives of the conflict have erased any other story especially the intimate human stories that we share on all sides and that just might evoke empathy. As I said last night, empathy cracks through people’s certainty and certainty is the enemy of compassion.
This is really serious given the most recent polls of attitudes -see http://www.brookings.edu/events/2010/1209_mideast_public_opinion.aspx\, which, suggests that the Israeli and Palestinian publics are more ready to find common ground than their political leaders. Both peoples have diminished trust in their political leadership and the political process and 2000 is being called the lost decade. The data suggests there is an empathy deficit but here is an amazing piece of data: there is a far more hopeful attitude (almost 2 to 1) about the possibility of peace for Israelis who have Arab friends and Arabs who have Israeli friends than those who don’t. In other words, we have a situation in which there is openness on both sides to peace (65+%) but people don’t have faith in the political leadership to make peace. Israelis and Palestinians don’t trust each other but where there are friendships – in other words where the relationship is not exhausted by politics but where there is empathy – there is a sea change in attitudes. This is an invitation, an opening, to a different peace making process. This is the power of Miral.
The AJC and the SWC do much good work but Israel has become a third rail in American Jewish life such that the very telling of a story that evokes empathy about a Palestinian becomes anti-Israel and one-sided. The fact that the lead Palestinian characters are all serious advocates of non-violence, the fact that another central character- a Palestinian activist changes his political position from terrorist to non-violence at the cost of his life, the fact that the movie is fundamentally hopeful is all trumped by one house demolition, one scene of Israeli security beating someone accused of terrorism, and a couple of checkpoint scenes and the film – again a true story of a young woman’s growing up – becomes an act of self-hate, betrayal, and anti-Israel.
Something is very wrong in American Jewish life and the ferocity of attack on a film like Miral and on people who disagree with the “pro-Israel” part of the Jewish community either is a product of a genuine sense that we live in a moment of pikuach nefesh which makes marginalizing and vilifying those with whom one disagrees permitted or is a projection of repressed, disassociated, split off, and projected guilt about what is happening in Israel that is simply too painful to bear. Easier to attack Julian Schnabel and his film then to deal with where we may be wrong.
I urge people to go see Miral and decide for themselves if this film- made by a proud Jew – is anti-Israel or an invitation to simply feel empathy for another human being.

In another blog post, Danielle Berrin writes: “What began as a deeply personal project because of his Judaism has become an arsenal of controversy for filmmaker Julian Schnabel and his latest film “Miral”.”

So the guy who left his wife for a Palestinian woman and made a movie based on her story did it out of his commitment to Judaism? Which Torah mitzvah exactly is he fulfilling through this? Exactly how Torah observant is Julian Schnabel? Or is his Judaism empty posturing?

And how shallow is Danielle Berrin’s understanding of things Jewish if she’s going to publish such vile Jew-hatred?

And to think she almost married up-and-coming Conservative rabbi Scott Perlo! I wonder how his congregation would’ve received such sentiments?

According to Wikipedia:

Schnabel lives in New York, maintaining studios in New York City and in Montauk on the eastern end of Long Island with a house in San Sebastian in Spain.[3] He has three children by his first wife, clothing designer Jacqueline Beaurang: two daughters, Lola, a painter and film-maker, Stella, a poet and actress, and a son, Vito, an art dealer.[10]

He also has twin sons, Cy and Olmo, by his second wife, Spanish Basque actress and model Olatz López Garmendia. Garmendia appeared in Before Night Falls, and is also to be seen in The Diving Bell, as Bauby’s physical therapist.[3] Schnabel is fluent in Spanish.[citation needed]He also learned French to direct The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Schnabel is currently in a relationship with Rula Jebreal.[11] Jebreal penned the screenplay, and original source novel, for Schnabel’s filmMiral.

Here are some photos of Rula Jebreal (the inspiration for the movie Miral):

On Feb. 25, 2011, Danielle Berrin made the following video blog: “The question on everybody’s mind today is Charlie Sheen an anti-Semite?”

“It’s a sure sign of Hollywood crazy when someone in this town starts saying bad things about Jews because this town is so full of them.”

“We’re talking about someone who is desperate and angry, teetering on the brink.”

“If his plan is to alienate everyone around him, the best way to do that in Hollywood is to start saying bad things about the Jews.”

Charlie Sheen didn’t say any bad things about Jews. He only said bad things about certain Jews. Danielle Berrin, on the other hand, spewed hatred for Jews as a people.

P.S. On Feb. 25, I received (along with dozens of other journalists) this email pitch from Courtney Raney at the Jewish Journal:

“HollywoodJew” Blogger and Columnist Danielle Berrin Says “Charlie Sheen Pushed Hollywood’s ‘ Eject Button.’

The Columnist Responds to Charlie Sheen “Haim Levine” Slander

Danielle Berrin, the HollywoodJew blogger and columnist who recently made LA Times headlines for her pursuit of Aaron Sorkin, said in her blog and on The Adam Carolla Podcast today that Sheen may not be anti-semitic, but his attack on producer Chuck Lorre’s Jewish name was a sure way of saying he doesn’t want to work in this town again.

Following the career path forged by other deranged addicts like Mel Gibson, Sheen had to have known that his slur would make him persona non grata in an industry where so many Jews work, Berrin said.

Berrin is the HollywoodJew blogger at hollywoodjew.com and columnist for The Jewish Journal. She can be reached for interviews at xxx@jewishjournal.com or by calling (213) xxx-xxxx ext. xxx.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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