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March 17, 2016 6:39 am

Is Hollywood Preparing to Use Theodore Herzl Biopic to Denigrate Israel?

avatar by Max Elstein Keisler

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Theodor Herzl in Basel, 1897. Photo: Wikipedia.

Theodor Herzl in Basel, 1897. Photo: Wikipedia.

Many biopics tend to cast their subjects in a very positive light.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley, a 2006 film about the Irish War of Independence against the British, presents an unequivocally pro-IRA viewpoint. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Spike Lee’s 1992 Malcolm X, a hagiography of the admittedly complicated but undoubtedly antisemitic figure, is in the United States National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.” That’s fair. Although the film glosses over Malcolm X’s antisemitism and conspiracy theories, that’s not its job. The Oscar-winning 1982 biopic of Mohandas Gandhi ignores many of the more unsavory aspects of Gandhi’s life. That’s how these kind of films are. They’re on the side of their protagonists.

So you can imagine my surprise when I read in Variety that H2O Motion Pictures is making a biopic of Theodore Herzl, the founder of political Zionism.

That they would make a movie about Herzl is in itself nothing remarkable —  Herzl certainly led an interesting life, from his years as a struggling playwright, to his manic travels across Europe to meet with whichever national leaders would see him, to his unusual and arguably tragic family life.

What surprised me is that Sidney Blumenthal is attached to the project, both as an executive producer and as a member of an advisory board to “ensure [their] approach to the story [is] as well balanced as possible.” Frankly, this is appalling.

Sidney Blumenthal’s son, Max Blumenthal, is such an extreme “anti-Zionist” that former KKK leader David Duke has wholeheartedly endorsed his work. Max Blumenthal regularly draws comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, equates Israel with ISIS, and fabricates quotes to associate Israel with the alleged American torture of enemy noncombatants. Unsurprisingly, he calls for Israel’s destruction and the elimination of the land’s Jewish population. I can’t speculate on what motivates Max Blumenthal to smear the Jewish state in such a blatantly non-factual way, but it’s clear that he is far from an objective critic of Israel.

Sidney Blumenthal has promoted his son’s “activism” for years. When Eric Alterman of The Nation wrote a harsh review of Max Blumenthal’s lie-filled and hateful Goliath, Sidney went on the offensive, allegedly seeking to sabotage Alterman professionally with a negative email campaign. Blumenthal’s mailing list is highly influential, reaching journalists, well-placed government officials and various academics. His smear campaign against Alterman was no small thing. At no point has Sidney Blumenthal ever criticized his son’s support for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the land of Israel. Rather, Blumenthal has done his best to promote his son’s work. And Blumenthal is a well connected man. When he promotes something, people like Hillary Clinton see it, for better or worse.

So how can Sidney Blumenthal possibly provide balance to the story of Herzl? By making sure the movie draws all the necessary equivalencies between Israel and Nazi Germany that are so en vogue in his son’s circles? Perhaps they can add a scene where Herzl partakes in a ceremonial meal of blood-matzah and baby flesh. Really, this is unbelievable. I’ve been struggling to draw a comparison. A biopic of Martin Luther King Jr. with David Duke as executive producer to provide balance? A documentary about the Peshmerga with Saddam Hussein on the advisory board? I’d like to think that H2O Motion Pictures is unaware of Sidney Blumenthal’s at best antagonistic relationship to Israel. The man is the father of a hateful antisemite, and has regularly promoted his son’s canards. His association with this project is shameful.

Furthermore, the very idea that Herzl’s life is so controversial in itself makes me uneasy (apparently Malcolm X and the IRA weren’t ‘controversial’ enough to require an advisory board!) The Zionists may have made tactical mistakes, but they were ultimately successful in preserving the Jewish people through the most catastrophic events in millenia. I write this from my apartment in a working class neighborhood in Tel Aviv, populated almost entirely by the second and third generation descendants of Jews expelled from the Arab world.

The people here live their lives, whether secular or religious, in Hebrew. Their country has a (relatively) successful economy and a vibrant culture, and none of this existed just a century ago. To me, that’s a beautiful thing. How can people who can’t see the beauty in the Zionist project possibly do Herzl’s story justice? It belongs to the people who live his vision. It does not belong to Israel’s enemies. This is unbelievable.

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  • Marco Redwolf

    Sadly not too many Jews know who and what the Blumenthals are about. There is no evidence that the Jews of America will switch sides and vote Republican. Most if not all Jewish organizations are in Clintons pocket. Members of my own circle of friends who are bright , intelligent and accomplished people don’t know who Max Blumenthal is and fail to make the connection with his father, Sidney. The wheels on the bus go round and round……

  • If the obvious answer ( to the bias of this production) is not the correct one, the backers have cynically calculated that they will gain a wider audience with this version. It should sell well in the Middle the heartlands of extreme left and right and will be acclaimed and showered with awards in the halls of academia. And even the outraged will contribute their dimes and pence in the interests of fairness, you understand. With all the controversy it’s a winner already.

  • Sydney and Max Bllumenthal are a disgrace to the human race, it’s a shame that Hillary Clinton
    has an association with them. The funding for Herzl’s film is most probably from Iran.

  • Golum…

    Just the fact that the “Anti-Semitic”/anti-Israel Blumenthal’s are involved is enough to question the motives of the Producers!!!
    I’m sure the araabs are in the back somewhere’s…

  • Dane Strect

    Mr Blumenthal older and younger are two disgusting people. the elder has been on the Clinton Foundation payroll and a close friend/adviser of Hilary Clinton. Emails released show that he regularly shared his son’s paranoid hate writings with Secy Clinton. What this says about Ms. Clinton and the two Blumenthals I will allow the reader to surmise.

    Let me add that Jews need an urgency to our protests. If only BLM and Trump are being heard; we need to get louder.

  • Otto Schiff

    Theodore Hezl was a great figure.
    Max Blumenthal does not know his butt from a hole in the ground.

  • dante

    if blumenthal is connected to the project, one can be assured that it will be a hateful, hysterical, hatchet job…on Herzl, on Israel, and on the Jewish People.

    blumenthal & his sick, contemptible, piece-of-garbage son are incapable of decency and honesty. their vocation is treachery, self-promotion, and, hate.

  • stevenl

    Hollywood: the hypocrite experts.
    The vast majority of American Jews (Ashkenazim)have probably never seen a Sephardic Jew. They represent 1/3 of Israeli Jews who escaped from the Muslim countries in 1948.

  • marvin menzin

    exposing the Hertzl movie with blumenthal history is fine,, but what action is to be taken
    will ADL , Camera. or others contact the producers and raise this question now before movie is finalized?
    if we let them know we are concerned and watching etc maybe the movie will be improved.

    seems to me our orgs need to be proactive on this issue.. alerting us with no call
    for action accomplishes little

  • ART

    Blumenthal is a very close adviser to the Clintons, as proven by many emails to and from Hillary. He is the author of emails advising Hillary to pressure Israel, to organize arab “resistance” to force Israel to make concessions. Never forget that Bill Clinton sent his political operatives to try to block Netanyahus’ re election in 1999. Like Obama much can be learned from the candidates close advisers

  • Here’s a link about the upcoming propaganda film about Herzl:

  • len

    those that control the media control the history!

  • Allis Radosh

    Is there anyway to protest this? A petition perhaps.

  • Arthur Solomon Safir, Esq.\

    Frightening Indeed !!!!

  • enufizenuf

    Write to Horowitz and ask him to drop Blumenthal from the project and replace him with a real and devoted scholar of Zionism:

    Mark Horowitz
    H2O Motion Pictures (US) Inc.
    Suite 8
    111 East 10th Street
    New York
    NY 10003

  • enufizenuf

    Can the author please provide more specific information about the film like the title, producer, director, locations, etc?