Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
 
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam


 
LETTER FROM ELLERY BRODER IN RESPONSE TO THE JEWISH HERITAGE CENTRE RE: THE FILM MA NISHMA MB

scroll down

by Ellery Broder, March 13, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

[Editor's note: The following letter has been written in response to this exchange of letters between Bradley Pollock and the Jewish Heritage Centre
 
 
LETTER FROM ELLERY BRODER IN RESPONSE TO THE JEWISH HERITAGE CENTRE RE: THE FILM MA NISHMA 
 
I saw the film Ma Nishma MB and was disturbed enough that I made some notes at the time.
 
In my view, the Jewish Heritage Centre, which recently screened the film, is mistaken when it suggests  that Bradley Pollock is “fixated” on the remarks of one voice in the film, (a voice which I found to be very anti-Israel).
 
Anti-Israel bias is reflected, in my view, both expressly and implicitly in the film by more than one source in the following ways:
 
1. An interviewee Lasha compares 1948 Arab refugees to Jews dispossessed of their homes in the Holocaust. She says words to the effect that “…while Jews were dispossessed from their homes in Europe ,the same thing happened to the Palestinian people with the Nakba…” (the Nakba or Catastrophe is how Arabs refer to the 1948 war.)  I understood her words to mean that she was suggesting that just as Jews were dispossessed of their homes by the Nazis during the Holocaust, Arab refugees were dispossessed of their homes by Israel during the 1948 war.  (I think  it is very reasonable to infer this from her words). This odious comparison ignores the fact that there would have been  no war and no Arab refugees at all  if  the  Arabs had accepted the 1947  UN Partition Plan, nor were Arab refugees sent to gas chambers. Further, note that there was no one in the film who rebutted this odious  comparison, a comparison  which  in my view arguably may meet or may come dangerously close to meeting the IHRA ( International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitism. That definition gives a list of examples of antisemitism and says that “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” can, taking into account the overall context, amount to antisemitism. In terms of context, when Lasha made this odious comparison the filmmakers, who edited the film, played it up by showing on the screen  archival footage of  a Jew with a yellow star carrying a bag of his belongings during the Holocaust, and  then showing archival footage of  Arab refugees, including in tents at a  refugee camp, and walking with their bags of belongings. These powerful visual images re-enforced the odious comparison made by Lasha. ( To see the complete IHRA definition of antisemitism go to:https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/resources/working-definitions-charters/working-definition-antisemitism)
 
Lasha referred to there being 1 million refugees, which is an inflated number. Lasha also criticized Birthright trips to Israel. When asked about her Birthright experience , she answered “Birth-wrong…” Lasha, by the way, gets quite a lot of air time in the film.
 
2. There was another female interviewee named Lexi  who said when referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that “…it’s almost like the oppressor is becoming the  oppressee type of thing and that’s not what Jews are about.”  I believe she inverted her words and meant to say that Jews were the oppressees but Israel had now became the oppressor. Taken in context these comments in my view, were very critical of Israel.

3.In the film, one of the film makers Sandra Bulloch says that the Israeli-Palestinian  conflict “does trace a lot  back to colonialism.” There is no clear explanation given to what she meant by this. I have wondered whether she was suggesting that Jews were colonialists allowed in by the British, who did not not belong to the region.  In fact, Jews have thousands of years of history in the holy land and are indigenous to the region. I took Bulloch’s statement to be critical of  the Jewish side in the conflict. If the film maker meant something other than what I have suggested, in my view she should have explained herself better.
 
4. The filmmakers, Johanna Reimer Henteleff and Sandra Bulloch refer to the section of their film on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as  “Israel & Palestine, the elephant in the room”.  In my view, this title itself  is not neutral, but by inference denigrates Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, suggesting there is a problem with it. Note that  the phrase “Elephant in the Room” is defined as “a major problem or controversial issue that is obviously present but avoided as a subject for discussion because it is more comfortable to do so.” I would, suggest, that, on the contrary, the subject of Israel and the Palestinians  is not avoided but comes up for extensive discussion at the United Nations, for example, which is obsessed with condemning Israel.
 
 
5. At another point, the filmmaker Johanna Reimer-Henteleff  said words to the effect that she doesn’t feel the need to “protect” Israel.  She says “…I  don’t feel the need to like protect it…”  I would not call that a pro-Israel statement.
 
6. At another point in the film, film maker Sandra Bulloch says that one of the things they pushed on her Birthright trip was “feeling a responsibility to Israel”, but she did not say she felt this.
 
Taken as a whole, the section on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the film in my view had a decidedly anti-Israel tone to it.
 
Additionally, the Jewish Heritage Centre in its letter has suggested that in regard to Birthright, it is “balanced” for a film  to have one person who is critical of it and one person who is positive about it. But if  99% of those who attended Birthright Israel found the trip to be a worthwhile experience and 1% found the experience to be propaganda, is it considered appropriate to select one from each group to present their perspectives and call this balanced ? 

Further, as to the issue of  lack of balance re: Israel, in my view one of the interviewees  in the film  could be categorized as "far -left" , but there was no one interviewed in the film  from the “far-right." I also don't think that there was anyone in the film who could even be described as "right wing,” let alone “far right”. The woman who had served in the IDF and briefly mentioned the existence of terror attacks said that  “innocent” people are suffering “on both sides.” This can hardly be categorized as a right wing sentiment, and in any event , just because someone  served in the IDF doesn’t at all mean they are right-wing politically vis a vis the Palestinians.
 
I have also wondered whether the  Jewish Heritage Centre in its letter has implied that Bradley Pollock is on the "far Right"? I certainly hope not. Bradley uses the words “occupation”  and "Palestinian territories." A member of the “far right” would not use the word  “occupation", and would not refer to the territories as "Palestinian territories" but rather as "Judea and Samaria."  I would suggest that  Bradley Pollock is a centrist (he has told me, for example, he is against new settlement  development), who is willing to call out anti-Israel bias for what it is.
 
Bradley Pollock believes the film should have been shown by the Jewish Heritage Centre  but panelists ought to have exposed its anti-Israel bias, and provided the context it sorely lacked. While I respect Bradley’s view, it is my opinion that there was so much to unpack in regard to the conflict because of the way it was portrayed in the film that this could not be easily done without taking a lot of time, such that it would have been better not to screen the film at all.  Additionally, I note that there was no one on the panel assembled by the Jewish Heritage Centre with particular expertise on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who could have provided the necessary historical context.

In summation, all I can say is that I am saddened  by this whole episode.

To see the responses by Rabbi Allan Finkel and Cindy Bass go to the next article 

 
 
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • JNF Canada
  • The Azrieli Foundation
  • Canadian Friends of Hebrew University
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Booke + Partners
  • James Teitsma
  • Janice Morley-Lecomte
  • Gislason Targownik Peters
  • Preventative Health First
  • Cathy Sutton
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Fetching Style
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Ted & Harriet Lyons
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Western Scrap Metals Inc.
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • HUB International
  • D'arcy & Deacon
  • Fair Service
  • Rosemary Miguez
  • Joy Burik
  • Gayle Halliwell
  • The Paper Fifrildi
  • Winnipeg Beach Home Building Centre
  • Stringers Rentals
  • Safeway Tuxedo
  • Thorvaldson Care Centre
  • Ilana Noureev
  • John Bucklaschuk
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • John Wishnowski
  • JLS Construction
  • KC Enterprises
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Orthodox Union
  • Jim Muir
  • Beach Boy
  • Glenda Knoll
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Kristina's
  • Chochy's
  • Seer Logging
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Boys Town Jerusalem
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • West Kildonan Auto Service
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.