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December 11, 2017 3:35 pm

New York Times Movie Review Praises ‘Devastating Indictment’ of Israel

avatar by Ira Stoll

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A scene from the Israeli film “Foxtrot.” Photo: Screenshot / YouTube.

Sometimes the worst anti-Israel venom from The New York Times shows up not in the news or editorial columns, but in the movie reviews.

The latest example of this phenomenon (earlier cases were covered here and here) comes in a review by Times movie critic Manohla Dargis of a movie, “Foxtrot,” that the review describes as “Israel’s Oscar entry in the foreign language category.”

Dargis describes the film as “a devastating indictment of a nation.” She sees the movie as saying that “normalizing catastrophic violence — and routinizing mourning — is finally little else than nihilism.”

That’s certainly one way to view this movie. But it’s not the only way. Jordan Hoffman, writing in Vanity Fair, said, “this is an allegorical film and, although its temperament is very Israeli, its content could just as well be about any nation and its Army.” Hoffman called the movie “a fascinating look at the grieving process.”

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Dargis makes much of the fact that the Israeli soldiers in the film “bunk in what looks like a repurposed, derelict shipping container.” Yet when it was Catskills hipsters rather than Israeli soldiers who were living in shipping containers, the Times took a different approach. “Eco-friendly and affordable, shipping containers are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional houses,” the Times reported in September in its real estate section. “Containers are loved by the hip and the practical, artisans and DIY-ers, engineers and construction foremen, as they are both sustainable and affordable… some industry professionals consider them the future of home building.” It’s a classic Times double standard.

Even if the film is critical of Israel, one might view its existence not as an “indictment,” but rather as an endorsement. Truly tyrannical societies, after all, don’t allow films critical of the security establishment even to be made, let alone enter them in the Academy Awards.

Then there’s the possibility — a possibility the Times shows no sign of having considered — that the nation being “indicted” by the movie isn’t Israel, but rather the nation or nations violently attacking it and denying its right to exist peacefully. Or the possibility that “routinizing mourning,” as the Times review puts it, isn’t “nihilism,” but rather a time-tested religious tradition’s way of embracing the continuation of life.

If the Dargis review is a “devastating indictment” of anything, it’s not Israel, but of the Times itself, which, sadly, can’t even seem to publish a movie review without letting its anti-Israel bias seep in.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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