Thursday, November 04, 2010

And the Oscar Goes to…

On the scale of things important in this world, the Academy Award is pretty far down on the list. Perhaps even all the way at the bottom of it. But there is an event happening with that award that is relevant to the Jewish people. It is being given to an anti Semite. His name is Jean-Luc Godard, a French- Swiss film maker.

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to give an honorary Academy Award to Godard for his contributions to the art form.

There is much being made in the Jewish media about this. There has even been discussion about it in the secular media , including the New York Times and most recently the Los Angeles Times.

Asked about this controversy, officials at the Academy have taken the predictable position that they are honoring his contributions and not his alleged anti-Semitism. They have further said that if they refused to honor controversial people there would be no one left to honor. They therefore ignore an honoree’s personal life and look only at the contribution itself.

Not that this is much of an argument, but I hear it. On the one hand - if someone contributes to the benefit and welfare of the human race via his life’s work, why shouldn’t that be recognized? Why should their personal views - no matter how reprehensible - be a factor?

He contributed to an art form that has given pleasure to literally billions of people around the world since its advent in the early 20th century.

On the other hand some things are more important than film.

Is Mr. Godard an anti Semite? He might deny it but the evidence seems pretty over-whelming. Here is a sample of it excerpted from the Forward:

(Godard’s) biographers recount a series of incidents expressing Godard’s unhealthy obsession with Jews, which noted French historian and journalist Pierre Assouline, on his Le Monde blog, termed “anti-Semitic.” In 1968, Godard, in the presence of (film-maker François) Truffaut, called producer Pierre Braunberger, an early supporter of New Wave filmmakers, “sale juif” (“filthy Jew”), after which Truffaut immediately broke from Godard.

He has called the State of Israel a cancer on the map of the Middle East and made a film with images equating Golda Meir to Hitler and comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. More from the Forward:

In a 2009 article in Le Monde, “Godard and the Jewish Question” by Jean-Luc Douin, Godard is quoted as making an off-camera comment during the filming of a 2006 documentary: “Palestinians’ suicide bombings in order to bring a Palestinian State into existence ultimately resemble what the Jews did by allowing themselves to be led like sheep to be slaughtered in gas chambers, sacrificing themselves to bring into existence the State of Israel.”

Godard apparently believes that Jews committed mass suicide during the Holocaust in order for Israel to be created. The same article quotes him along these lines: “Basically, there were six million kamikazes” and “Hollywood was invented by Jewish gangsters.”

So… is this guy an anti-Semite? Is the Pope Catholic? I don’t think there can be any doubt about it.

But contrary to those who think the award should be withdrawn, I think the Academy ought to go ahead and give it to him. Not on November 13th as is currently scheduled but in February on the night of the annual Academy Awards broadcast. I hope he is there to accept it. Every effort should be made to get him to attend. The entire world will be watching. The Academy Awards is the most watched TV program in the world.

This is how the award should be presented. Against a backdrop of running archival Holocaust footage - the presenter (preferably a non Jewish icon in the industry like Quentin Tarantino of ‘Inglorious Basterds’ fame) should say the following:

‘Mr. Godard, you have contributed much to the film industry. I have learned from you myself. But this is where your contributions begin and end. Your anti-Semitism is a far greater contribution to evil than your skills are to film. Most of the world has learned from the Holocaust and do not trample on the memory of its victims. But you sir seem relish it!’

‘You think Jews are filthy? It is you sir who are the filthiest of all! You are a vicious anti-Semite who deserves the scorn of all who are present here tonight and are watching this broadcast. Indeed you deserve the scorn of all of humanity.’

‘It is people like you who enabled the Holocaust. It is people like you who would in a moment cause another Holocaust in Israel all the while saying, ‘the Jews deserve it’.

‘It is no small wonder that another gifted film maker François Truffaut severed his friendship with you. He saw who you really are: an evil monster disguised as a human being.’

‘We give you this award tonight not because we want to honor you but to bring you before your peers and expose you to the world. You think Golda Meir was Hitler? You sir are a far better surrogate for him. If you were in his place during the war, you would have been twice as zealous in ridding the world of ‘the filthy Jew’. This is why we brought you to Hollywood. Please take this award and let it be a reminder of how we in Hollywood really feel about people like you.’

‘Now that you have been revealed for the anti Semite you are to the over a billion people watching, they will hopefully feel the same way. There are some things more important than film.’

And then the award should be presented – a specially designed gold statuette of Hitler in the familiar shape of an Oscar.