"Miral", the movie directed by Julian Schnabel, is ground-breaking but not game-changing... Yet

by Wendy Campbell

April 23, 2011


Not perfect, but still a ‘Must See’!

Julian Schnabel directed a film entitled  “Miral”, based on an autobiographical book by a Palestinian woman whose hardscrabble life due to the creation of the Jewish state in her ancestral homeland of Palestine provides a personal and historical account of the turmoil that still plagues the Palestinian people to this day.  Rula Jebreal, the author of the book, became a top news journalist in Italy, and is now Julian Schnabel’s “significant other”. Life is stranger than fiction.


As soon as I saw the ad in my newspaper for the movie “Miral” which is directed by Julian Schnabel (best known for directing the film “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” and previous to that, his smashed crockery paintings), I was curious.  The ad for it showed a high-contrast photo of a woman with one of her eyes encircled with a barbed wire outline in the shape of the  Star of David.  As someone who has been actively interested in the Palestinian cause since 2000, I decided to get some more information on it, and did an internet search.

I found many interesting tidbits about the film that made me decide to see it at my next earliest convenience, since films like this tend to only be shown for the briefest of time periods.  By “films like this”  I mean that controversial films, especially those perceived as “anti-Israel” or a challenge to Jewish propaganda and/or topics considered “sensitive” to Jews.  Controversial films like this rarely get shown at all, or if they do, then they are shown for only a very brief period of time.  Indeed, I discovered later while surfing the net that indeed, many Jewish groups did try to ban the film, especially its premiere at the UN.

I also read on-line that the Weinstein Company, who have produced and distributed some “controversial” movies before, as in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9-11”, were involved with this film as well. 

What really stoked my interest, however, was that the point of view of the movie was said to be mostly from a real life Palestinian woman. 

Interestingly, Vanessa Redgrave plays a small role in the film, and she is certainly no stranger to controversy, especially with regards to the Palestinian cause.  She was a fore-runner to publicly showing support for the Palestinian cause, and even produced and narrated a documentary about it simply titled “The Palestinian”, back in 1977, which I don’t believe ever actually got distribution, and that was before the days of YouTube, DVDs and camcorders.  For her efforts on behalf of Palestinian rights back then, she became the target of some Jewish outrage and she was essentially blacklisted in Hollywood and beyond for years. 

I hope she will find a way distribute her film ”The Palestinian” now that the Palestinian cause is The Cause Celebre of our day, however I could not find it on YouTube yet.  Many people still are not quite aware of the Palestinian point of view, and the reality of the Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinians, due to censorship as a result of the Jewish dominance of the media here in the USA (google the article by Joel Stein of the LA Times entitled ‘Who rules the media’ for his thorough research on this matter that is considered sensitive to Jews in general, however Stein states he is proud of Jewish dominance of US media and hopes it continues). 

For newbies to the Palestinian cause, I still refer people to American pro-Palestinian activist Alison Weir’s website www.ifamericansknew.org where you can see a clear analysis of the US media’s overwhelming bias for Israel/Israelis and against the Palestinian people.  And on that website, along with solid statistics that cannot be refuted, there is a link for a downloadable document called “ Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict” written by Jews for Justice in the Middle East, with no actual names attached to it, presumably to protect themselves from the wrath of many of their Jewish brethren who are completely pro-Israel, right or wrong.  That little document is the best place to start for anyone who wants to read the truth about the Palestinian-Israel conflict, or more accurately, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Jews who want to have and maintain a Jewish state on stolen Palestinian land, an immoral ambition which is funded heavily with our US tax dollars.


Getting back to the movie “Miral”, it was very interesting to learn that it is based on a autobiographical book written by Rula Jebreal, and that she is currently living with Julian Schnabel, the director of the movie, as his girlfriend. Of course, I am sure she is thrilled that her acclaimed boyfriend was able to showcase her life story in a movie, a sort of docu-drama, but I am pretty sure that he also was able to, along with the Weinstein Brothers, as the producer/distributors, put their Jewish American spin on her story in a subtle way, imprinting their point of view as Jewish Americans on the general audience, albeit leaving much of the Palestinian woman’s story intact.

The movie tends to focus primarily on the role of Palestinian women in the protangonist’s life, but does not put any emphasis on the storyteller’s Palestinian father, who obviously played a huge role in her life as shown in the film.  It often seems to be the case that self-proclaimed pro-Palestinian Jewish activists focus on Palestinian women and children, but ignore the plight of the Palestinian men, implying they are not as worthy of sympathy or aid in their quest for justice and peace.  Is this understatement of the Palestinian father, and also the Palestinian boyfriend’s role in this woman’s story, a result of the bias of the Jewish director and producer/distributors?  Perhaps, but even she does say in an interview I read later, that she feels that she was most influenced by the women in her life, although she give her father credit for his supportive role.

This truly was a form of docu-drama because not only was it based on the author’s real life, but clips of actual historic film footage of events that took place during the formation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the few years prior, as well as footage of the first Intifada (1987 – 1993) , for examples, were included in the film.  Sometimes what was shown was clarified for the audience and sometimes it was not.


For instance, although it showed that there was violence during the creation of the Jewish state of Israel, it was not clarified by the film-maker that it was largely a one-sided battle of Jews armed with the most sophisticated weapons of the day, who were actually massacring entire Palestinian villages such as Dier Yassin, a decimated Palestinian village which was mentioned in the film. 

It was not clarified that the British completely disarmed all the Palestinians in the couple of years preceding the Jewish takeover of parts of Palestine that their international Jewish colleagues in high places were able to persuade the powers that be of the newly created UN, (which did not include any Arab countries), to give to Jews for a Jewish state in the so-called Partition. On top of the UN giving away Palestinian land that was not theirs to give away in the first place to anyone, much more of the Palestinian territory than even that was taken by force by heavily armed Jewish terrorist gangs.  The barbarity and complete ruthlessness of the Jewish terrorist gangs who were rampaging throughout Palestine with highly sophisticated weaponry against defenseless civilians were therefore whitewashed in this film.

Later, in the Six Day War, in 1967, the film showed how the Jewish state of Israel once again aggressed and took more Palestinian land as well as some territory of Egypt (the Sinai Peninsula) and Syria (the Golan Heights, still under Israeli occupation to this day).  The illegal and egregious pre-empted aggression of the Israelis against essentially defenseless Palestinian people was once again white-washed.  As Norman Finkelstein has correctly pointed it out, the Israeli war against the Palestinian people in Gaza in 2009 was not so much a “war” – it was literally a one-sided massacre. Palestinians to this day do not have game-changing artillery at their disposal, as it all gets intercepted by the Israelis.  The Israelis control all the borders, the waterfront and the airspace of all of the Palestinian territories to this day, while the Israelis themselves are still receiving the most possible sophisticated weaponry possible at this time by the USA, along with billions of our tax dollars every year.

From the beginning of the violent creation of the Jewish state and the years leading up to it, and all the years between then and now, up to this very day, international Jewry and the government of the USA, as well as England, have enabled Jews in Israel to essentially ethnically cleanse Palestine by murder and by the brutal occupation which have caused many Palestinians to flee.  In fact, when the massacre of Dier Yassin happened as well as other similar massacres at that time in 1947 and 1948, over 800,000 Palestinians fled their homeland and have never been allowed to return ever since, even though it is their Right to Return according to UN Resolutions and International Law. 

While the film “Miral” did explain that Jews from around the world can go to the Jewish state of Israel and easily become Israelis citizens if they choose to, the film did not make it clear that the Palestinian refugees’  legal Right to Return to their ancestral homeland of Palestine-Israel has not been allowed even to this day, by the Israelis who now essentially have created a one-racist-state solution, where Palestine-Israel is totally controlled by Jews. Where is the concern for democracy from “our” government and media?

Some non-Jewish Arab/Palestinians who live inside Israel have some limited rights while other Palestinians living in the West Bank have very limited rights.  The Palestinians in Gaza basically are robbed of all of their human rights.  To this very day.  Every day. And keep in mind, this is enabled by our US government. With our taxes. Let the truth be known, and free us all to correct the injustices of this deplorable situation that is inherently racist and unacceptable, and spiraling into world wars, with our leaders falsely claiming to care about democracy and freedom for the people.


In summary, this movie “Miral” essentially left out the major role that the USA plays in the Israeli massacre of Palestinians, happening to this very day.

In fact, at the end of the movie, after the credits, it was stated that the movie was “dedicated to both sides that continue the search for peace” when there are most certainly more than two sides in this world.  We are all involved, especially Americans, due to our government’s fundamental and huge support for Israel in every way: financially, militarily and diplomatically.  It would have been far more clearly truthful and impressive, if it stated that the movie was dedicated to everyone who continues to search for peace.

The fact that they used the language “both sides” in their dedication reveals to me that Schnabel, and the Weinstein brothers, want the American public to think that the “conflict” is simply between Jews and Palestinians.  It implies that everyone else can “butt out” as in: “Jews can handle the situation—don’t interfere!”  I have personally witnessed this kind of attitude. However, I did read an on-line article with an interview of the beautiful and intelligent Rula Jebreal, whose book the movie is based on, and I found her statement at the end of the article read: “The movie is dedicated to everyone who still believes peace is possible.”  Those were her words.  It’s too bad the Jewish Americans Schnabel and Weinstein did not use those words at the end of the movie instead of the misleading words “both sides” instead of “everyone”. 

The Palestinian-Israeli situation is truly everyone’s problem and needs everyone to get involved with resolving it.  After all the UN, which did not include Arab countries in the beginning, was involved with creating the Jewish state of Israel, and therefore the modern UN and people around the world must make sincere efforts to resolve the situation conclusively and with justice, peace and security for all. Interesting how now that the UN is no longer useful to Israel, pro-Israel supporters are now trying to do away with the UN, or at least break ties with it. Now that most countries vote unanimously, usually except for the US, to condemn Israeli criminal offenses against the Palestinian people, pro-Israel voices now want to de-legitimize and/or abolish the UN.

Those of us around the world who truly do care to find peace for the Israelis and Palestinians but also justice for the Palestinians (no justice, no peace!) are not content to just leave it to the Israelis and international Jewish Zionists to “take care of” the situation, a situation which the world is responsible for in many ways.

Whether we like it or not, we are involved with the turmoil in Palestine-Israel due to our bought-out government’s blind support of Israel, referred to as  the “unshakable bonds” between Israel and the USA by all politicians who want to get ahead or even just keep their jobs.  These duplicitous politicians pledge allegiance to Israel in more ways than one including unconditionally giving Israel billions of our tax dollars every year no matter how bad our economy is.

The movie “Miral” was, however, very good in some ways, in that it showed how various Palestinian people cope  (or aren’t able to cope) with being under a brutal occupation, whether it’s becoming an alcoholic (as the woman’s mother did and she later committed suicide), or praying obsessively in a mosque (as her father did), or selflessly devoting oneself to orphaned children (as did her school mistress), or becoming a revolutionary (like her father’s sister and some of her contemporaries).


Also mentioned in the film was the Oslo Peace Accords, around 1993, which was a formal negotiation by the Israelis, led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the Palestinians, led by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, for organizing a two-state solution, which inspired renewed hope for a peaceful solution, but the effort was dashed.  The film showed scenes that would draw the viewer to conclude that extremist Palestinians were responsible for the collapse of the negotiations, showing a Palestinian boyfriend of the main protagonist getting murdered by other Palestinians apparently for being willing to accept a two-state solution (rather than, one is lead to presume, as one-state solution without Jews).  However, the film does not show nor mention the assassination of Rabin in 1995 by an extremist Jewish Israeli who opposed Rabin’s support for the Oslo Accords.  Most US media also put that one down the memory hole, because they want Americans to think that only Muslims and Arabs are extremists.  It is disturbing that this film also neglected to include this telling fact of Rabin’s assassination by a Jewish Israeli extremist, reinforcing the false notion that only one side is extremist and “kills peace”.

In summary, movie was not game-changing.  Certainly, if the full impact of the on-going Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians were not so whitewashed, many Americans would want to loudly protest their country’s staunch support of such a violently racist and ethnic-cleansing entity as is Israel, or “the Zionist entity” as many people in the Middle East understandably refer to it. They might even take it to the streets and take it to the highest levels of our government.  And they should. It is time for a real change with regards to US support for the Jewish state of Israel, which is a racist, colonialist concept, as it has always been from the get go.  For decades now, the Palestinians have suffered under Israeli brutality and oppression. It is time for truth and justice, and then there can be peace.



I also wish it had shown at the end of the film some of the many ways that people around the world are indeed working for justice and peace, as in the BDS Movement (Boycott, Divest, Sanction), the humanitarian flotillas to Gaza and the works of many activist groups who go to witness what is really going on in Palestine-Israel, and who report back to the world the reality of the situation there, since the mainstream media does not.  I also wish that the movie had been dedicated to the activists who have given their lives for the cause of justice and peace for Palestinians, such as Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. Finally, in my dreams, the film should have made a call for action at the end of it, as in join the human rights activists around the world in the quest for truth, justice and peace.

I just learned that one of the actors in the film, Juliano Mer-Khanis, an Israeli who had an Israeli Jewish mother and a Palestinian Christian father, was recently assassinated in front of the Freedom Theatre that he founded in the impoverished Palestinian city of Jenin.  He was shot several times at close range by masked gunmen but no one is sure who did it, although a Palestinian man with extremist ideas has been arrested.  Nothing has been proven yet and certainly it seems as if the Israeli extremists would have had more motive to kill this kind and peaceful man who was helping Palestinians.  The Israeli Mossad, whose motto “By Deception We Shall Rule” is highly suspected by most to be responsible for the murder of this man, who was a beloved and influential pro-Palestinian activist, as well as the more recent assassination in Gaza of another highly esteemed pro-Palestinian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, who hailed from Italy.


This movie showed some of the truth about the Palestinian-Israeli situation but not all of the truth.  But some of the truth is better than not showing any of the truth, which is what perhaps what Rula Jebreal thought when this film was completed.

I agree.  I hope many Americans see this film and that it awakens their curiosity to learn more and to take action to achieve justice, peace and security for all.

If this happens, perhaps the movie will be game-changing after all.  One can always hope.