Blame Game

Movie about religion. Offensive topics. Alleged Jewish filmmaker. Summer 2012 release.

Ironically, I could be talking about a number of different titles just from the last few months alone. One can’t forget “The Dictator,” from the beginning of the summer. Nor can we neglect to mention “The Posession,” which horrifically (albeit not well) closed our summers.

However, the reactions to any of these blockbusters were little to none. There were no calls for “death to America,” or protests in the streets, or directors forced into hiding. The director, creator and main actor of “The Dictator,”  Sasha Baron Cohen, even openly mocked North Korea at the Academy Awards earlier this year, and he’s still very much living, breathing and leading the good life.

That’s why I can barely wrap my head around why four US citizens were brutally and systematically murdered in Libya in an alleged reaction to the newly-released critical film under many titles including “Innocence of Muslims.”

When “Passion of Christ” came out a couple of years back, I, being a Jew, took offense to it. Yet, I did not go to my local Australian diplomat, and try and murder him. No. I did not blame the country for some irrational grudge-bearing man who had produced the film. Rather, I just didn’t see it, and if others asked me about it, I would defend my people.

Then, when “Miral,” a film criticizing and lying about Israeli actions to the Palestinians, came out last year, I did not call a war on Islam or the Palestinians. If anything, I’ve been trying to make peace with them for so long, being an Israeli, the movie became just another mode of verbal warfare Israel has yet to catch up on.

But radical Islam, again and again, has proven they hold a different standard of reactions. Instead of letting their humanity seep through and consider a more successful response, they tend instead to attack, kill and think later, if at all. This presents itself as a major problem when trying to understand and negotiate with people and leaders of the Middle East. How can one discuss rationally with these people, when irrationality and instinct is what register’s in their heads first? When the people’s first reaction is one of racism and instead of just vocalizing and protesting their discontent, they riot and kill in the streets calling for a jihad?

I understand the feelings of a strong connection to a religion. I myself am a religious Jew, but I don’t mind the mockery surrounding what I do, or what I believe in. If it’s working for me, what’s the difference if someone else disagrees? I can laugh at my people and myself just as well as others can laugh. And I’m okay with that. It seems the radical Muslims though, feel any insult to Mohammed is not one to be taken in jest. I understand that the depictions of the prophet were horrible, graphic and disrespectful, depicting him as a madman, womanizer and a fraud. But again, they could have stuck to vocalizing their discontent, defended their beliefs, or even created an “occupy” movement to educate the world on who Mohammed really is. There’s no good reason they went to go beat and kill. That reaction was inhumane and horrific.

Sam Bacile, there was no reason to make this film. And I think you should be criticized for it. However, do I blame the deaths of four Americans on you? No. Do I blame the riots in Yemen, Egypt and Libya on you? No. Do I blame the fact that Israel is being wrongfully tied into this as well? No. That’s the radical Muslims’ faults. And if President Obama refuses to acknowledge that the Muslims need to be taught the proper humane way to react, then maybe we need a stronger President. Mr. President, you’re making your campaign bed, now lay in it.


About the Author
Melanie Goldberg is a current student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She also serves as the research assistant for Versa: The Israeli Supreme Court English Language Repository, and founded a chapter of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights on her campus. Most recently, she was one of the recipients of The Jewish Week's "36 under 36" award.