Daniel Swindell

Dear Berlin Film Festival, Killing Jews is Not an Act of “Conscience”

I recently sent a message to your Facebook page, which is now marked “viewed,” but you still haven’t responded. So, I’ve decided to write an open letter.

This week, Director Jose Padilha’s film, “7 Days in Entebbe” premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The film depicts the 1976 hijacking of a Paris-bound Air France flight from Tel Aviv. The hijacking was done by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, with the help of two, far-left, German terrorists. The goal of the group was to pressure Israel into releasing Palestinian prisoners. The terrorists separated the Jewish hostages from the non-Jewish hostages, and eventually released the non-Jewish hostages. The event ended with the death of three Jewish hostages.

I have not seen the film, because it has not been released where I live, so I can’t assess how accurately it portrays these real events. The female German terrorist was played by Rosamund Pike. The German male terrorist was named, Wilfried Boese, who was played by Daniel Bruhl. I read some reviews of the film, which explained that, “The new version, based in part on testimony from flight engineer Jacques Lemoine, shows Boese (Daniel Bruhl) deciding against massacring the Jewish passengers before he goes down in a hail of bullets.”

But, I did watch the Berlin Film Festival Press Conference on the film, so I am able to assess it. During the press conference, the director, lead actor, and lead actress discussed the motives of the real-life German terrorists. The primary question was regarding the supposed decision by Boese to not kill all the Jewish hostages when the end was near. The lead actress explained that it was unclear whether Boese did not kill the hostages because there was not enough time, or because he had a “humanitarian impulse.” At the end of the discussion, the director also explained, “terrorists have a conscience.” The director explained that he believed there was a moral difference between Boese and the Palestinian terrorists, because, “Boese decided not to kill.”

Now, the director is Jewish, and I suppose his job is to try to understand the perspective of the German terrorist. As an artist, maybe he had a responsibility to look deeper into the heart of Boese. The director must have asked the soul-searching question of whether, since it is possible that Boese changed his mind about slaughtering the people that he had kidnapped, that he was a person of conscience? His answer – yes, he was. My answer is that the question is pseudo-intellectualism. And the pretentious claim that the director is challenging the status quo is a joke.

I think watching the Berlin Film Festival Press Conference made me realize that I must not be much of an artist, because I didn’t sympathize with the fact that from Boese’s perspective, he was fighting against evil imperialists. Here are the facts: Boese partnered with people who wanted to kill Jews, steal property, and kidnap people. In addition, Boese himself held a gun on women and children. I was working a cash register once when a man entered, pulled out a gun, and said, “Give me all the money.” When you think someone is going to kill you, then you can react strangely, not even because you are brave, but just because you can react. The moment you pull a gun, you are creating the conditions for a possible homicide. So, whether or not, at the very last moment, Boese realized that you shouldn’t shoot a bunch of people, is not so impressive to me.

As a person with a conscience, I know that you shouldn’t join a group of terrorists, steal planes, or hold guns on children. I don’t think it’s a huge victory of conscience when you decide not to shoot a bunch of people. I don’t actually have to do any of those things to explore whether they are wrong. Even if you want to accept the bogus excuse that the Palestinians were fighting for a “homeland,” then what was Boese doing? He wasn’t a Palestinian. The Jews were fighting an endless wave of Arab wars and terrorism against their homeland. Why didn’t he join with them?

I don’t care if Boese was naïve. If Boese didn’t kidnap Jews, then he would never have had an internal debate about whether to murder all of them. In real life, Boese made immoral decisions and got a bunch of Jews murdered. Once you pull out a gun, then you are responsible. Boese is a murderer, even if he didn’t fire the last shot. But I guess I’m just not enough of an artist to understand all the deeper angles of the question.

Lastly, the director explained that the terrorists had a “conscience.” As an American, I was unaware that Berlin is still hosting conferences to explain that those who separate, and murder Jews have a “conscience.” But thank you for updating me on the current trends in Germany.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.
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