[UPDATE: I received an email from someone who I have reason to believe is indeed close to the story, rebutting my charges. I still think the film slipped up, but I am certain that the SEALS are not antisemites. Read more here.]
In my earlier post, I accused Act of Valor of including crude antisemitism. You can read my accusation here. I have a few more thoughts that I want to put out here.
Readers of my blog know that I’m not someone who sees antisemitism under every rock. Certainly, I do discuss antisemitism at the Bookworm Room, as you’ll see if you follow the category link. I happen to believe that our President is not a friend of Israel, and I suspect that he doesn’t like religious Jews. I also write a fair number of posts about modern Leftism’s hostility to Israel, a hostility that is hard to explain without looking to good old-fashioned Jew hatred. If you want to see more of my thoughts on the subject, check the link.
Having said that, I don’t constantly watch movies and TV shows, or view news reports, or read books with a constant eye out for antisemitism. People sometimes say or do things that can be perceived as offensive, but if their motives are clearly from innocence or ignorance, I just don’t care. You’ve probably heard the expression that, to a hammer, everything is a nail. That is not my approach to antisemitism.
One of my friends whom I greatly respect suggested that maybe I read something in the movie that isn’t there. He pointed out that both Roger Simon and Phyllis Chesler, two other people I highly respect, gave the movie glowing reviews without any mention of that “Jewish” bit. Taking his question seriously, I asked myself “Did I fall asleep?” or “Did I have a hammer/nail moment where I imagined that scene?”
I therefore did a reality check, asking each of my children if, in the interrogation scene, the Navy SEAL had said to the bad guy something along the lines of “You’re a Jew.” The children (a tween and a teen) corroborated that this dialogue took place. The older one said “It made me uncomfortable.” The younger one said, “They had a good reason for doing it. They wanted to show that Jews can be bad guys and work with Muslims too.”
My younger child may be right about the point the movie wanted to make, but he’s still fundamentally wrong about the point being made (as are the filmmakers, if this was their goal). Yes, some of the worst antisemites in the world are Jews. Yousef Al-Khattab is a Jew turned Jihadi and George Soros is, of course, Jewish. Puree these two nasty men into one individual, and you could come up with a billionaire Jewish jihadist. But how likely is that? Both Soros and Al-Khattab are pretty rare animals — sui generis, one might say. There’s only one Soros, and he’s inspired by Leftism, not by jihadism, and there’s only one Yousef Al-Khattab, and he’s inspired by Islam, not by a Jewish desire to destroy capital.
The reality in this world is that the vast (and by vast I mean in excess of 99%) majority of Jews aren’t jihadists. In the real world, Jews are Israelis who are front-line warriors in the battle against radical Islam; beleaguered European Jews who are realizing that the Europeans don’t like them any more than they did in 1939 and side more with the Islamists in the midst; and ostrich-like American Jews whose loosey-goosey Leftism blinds them to the fact that the Left’s movers and shakers are not friends to either Israel or the Jews.
The percentage of Jihadists who are Jews is incalculably small, and the percentage of billionaire, greasy-haired, hooked-nosed Jewish Jihadists is smaller still — to the point of zero. Even Soros, bad person though he is, does not look like a Jewish caricature, nor is he a Jihadist. He is a Leftist, which is a different beast — and Act of Valor makes no effort to put the character of Christo into that Leftist slot.
And that’s really the point: the movie makes no effort to try to put Christo into any recognizable slot other than that of traditional antisemitic imagery. Christo is not a Leftist who allies himself with Islamists because they share a common goal of destroying the West. Christo is not a convert who has abandoned his Jewishness and immersed himself in the antisemitic fanaticism of the Islamists. Christo is also not a tortured, self-loathing Jew who is at least psychologically interesting. He’s just an ugly, greasy, sadistic billionaire, whose goal is mass murder in America and the destruction of the American economy.
Christo’s Jewishness — which is a one-liner that ruined an entire movie for me — is thrown out there for no discernible reason. It doesn’t explain the story that preceded his being identified as a Jew, and it doesn’t affect the plot that follows that revelation. It’s just out there. To me, that’s antisemitism, pure and simple.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that a show that’s billed as ordinary entertainment digs deep into traditional antisemitic tropes. Just last month, an NBC TV show called Grimm apparently did precisely the same thing. That two 2012 productions should delve into the world’s antisemitic psyche to create their bad guys is more than disturbing. It’s frightening.
One last thing: I got mad at the Navy SEALS (and said so), because they star in Act of Valor and it’s billed as a Navy SEAL movie. I understand that there are many more layers to a movie: the creative side, the production side, the financing and, with this particular movie, presumably the Pentagon and State Department side. I’d be deeply sorry to believe that this swipe at Jews originated with the SEALS themselves, although you can’t escape the fact that they participated in the movie. Because of that participation, I don’t fully apologize to them for lashing out in my last post, but I somewhat apologize to them, and expand my anger to the other culprits behind this base act.
UPDATE: Sadie has suggested that the Pentagon, fearful of angering Muslims, throw in a bad Jew as a sop to their delicate sensibilities. Does that make it any better?