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biased, cliched and flawed
on August 7, 2007
I was not too impressed with this documentary. Do not expect any insightful political or miltary commentary regarding suicide bombers. The focus here is on psychological and social issues, which would not be a bad thing in itself were the documentary not so biased, cliched and flawed.
SUICIDE KILLERS is very much a talking heads documentary. Among the interviewees are failed suicider bombers (both male and female) in an Israeli high security detention centre, aspiring martyrs, family members of bombers (who express great pride in their children's actions), survivors of terrorist attacks and several intellectuals, among them a female French author of Iranian descent, a Palestinian psychiatrist from the Gaza mental health hospital and a French philosopher and surgeon.
Particularly fascinating sequences include an imprisoned suicide bomber recalling the moment he triggered his explosive belt (he survived [ !] despite severe stomach wounds), an Israeli of Arab descent who survived two (!) bombing attacks and witnessed a female Israeli soldier bleeding to death in his arms, and two Jewish border policemen suicide bombing survivors (the blast threw one of them on a car, he fainted and awoke to find himself covered with human flesh).
Despite some hugely interesting interviews the documentary is very flawed mostly due to a certain slant in the presentation.
This documentary emphasizes the view that Arabs are incapable to come to terms with defeat. In the words of the Palestinian psychiatrist, his countrymen prefer to "die in glory than to live in humiliation", one of several psychological explanations being given to the viewer regarding the phenomenon of suicide bombers, thusly denying any legitimate political motive.
One of the documentary's main arguments against radical islam is the
sexual oppression it causes. Interviewees never tire to share their cliche psychoanalytic wisdom. "One of the classic mechanisms of chauvinism is that men confuse the power of their weapons with their phallic erections", explains the French philosopher at one point, and: "The terrorist has a substitute phallus" (i.e. gun or explosive). The well-known sura from the Koran regarding the 72 virgins awaiting the martyr in paradise is cited again and again by the interviewees to prove their point about sexual oppression. Don't be fooled by the high brow intellectual verbiage; basically it boils down to the simplistic "explanation" that providing Arabs had better sex lives they would stop blowing themselves
and others up. Quite aside that this argument is a subtle smear (trying to delegitimize a political motive), also keep in mind that this psychoanalytic "theory" applies Western concepts (which are unheard of in many parts of this world and hence of no relevance) to Islamic culture.
Related to this explanation is the filmmaker's opinion that Islam is a religion that oppresses women in ways unimaginable in the Western world. A good example is a deleted scene (footage from Saudi Arabian TV) in the DVD's extra features when an islamic cleric states: "There is a difference between men and women in Islamic law. Those who want total equality between the sexes are criminals, betrayers and violators of the Koran and the Sunna." According to the filmmaker suicide bombing is almost a kind of perverse "self-empowerment" for Arab women in backward Islamic societies. (Never mind occupation and Israeli atrocities...)
Last not least: a particular unbalanced scene shows us the Nablus based terror shrine, where Palestinians apparently celebrate suicide bombers. (Well, the filmmakers did not bother to show us the shrine radical Jews erected in honour of extremist settler Baruch GOLDSTEIN, who shot 29 Arabs in a Hebron mosque.)
At least there is nothing to complain about the DVD extra features:
There is of course the film's trailer featuring primarily footage from news TV stations and a trailer for a film called TORN APART ( a love story about a Palestinian woman and an Israeli soldier).
There are also eight deleted scenes:
* a brief scene about Israeli mourners at a roadside memorial
* a doctor in charge of a phoneline for victims of post traumatic stress disorder after suicide bombings; his explanations on the flashbacks survivors experience are intercut with brief footage of the gory aftermath of suicide bombings
* IDF soldiers on guard duty at a border checkpoint - their officer even
claims straightfacedly "the soldiers are behaving nicely to the [Palestinian] civilians" (!)
* a Jewish woman mourning the death of her husband
* additional footage of Palestinian prisoners at a high security detention center
* Jihadists praying and checking their AK -47s
* long interviews and sermons from Islamic scholars as seen on various
Arab TV stations, mostly on the issue of women and Islam (if this scene
was intended to smear Arabs by showing them as wife-beaters it clearly
backfired, as the scholars elaborate in great detail that the Koran does
not endorse violence against women for no reason)
* a brief interview with director Pierre REHOV on HANNITY & COLMES (exactly the propaganda piece one would expect)
There is also a lenghty booklet (about 30 pages) as pdf-file on the DVD, including an interview with director Pierre REHOV, advice on how to use the documentary in the classroom, casualty and terrorist incident figures, articles and internet resources for your further study. As you can imagine from over a dozen links provided for Christian Zionism alone [!] this collection might not the most balanced one.
SUICIDE BOMBERS is more or less neoconservative propaganda although admittably more articulate than usual. Those who favour fair and unbiased insight are well advised to skip this DVD and watch THE CULT OF THE SUICIDE BOMBER instead, which I have also reviewed here at some length.