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TitleFilming the Modern Middle East: Politics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World
PublisherI. B. Tauris
ISBN 139781845111922
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size666.6 KB
Total Pages255
Table of Contents
                            Contents
List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Orientalism and the Cinematic Middle East
Chapter I: The Politicized Landscape
	Why space matters
	Hollywood's spatial political stage
	The spatial contradictions of Arab cinemas
	Conclusion
Chapter II: Gendered Tools of Nationalism
	The changing face of the American male/nation
	The female nations of Arab cinemas
	Conclusion
Chapter III: Conflicts Within and Without: The Arab-Israeli Conflict (and the Gulf War)
	Hollywood's America:world police
	Arab cinemas:nostalgia and resistance
	Conclusion
Chapter IV: From the Other Outside to the Outside Within: Representing Islamic Fundamentalism
	Why fundamentalism matters
	Hollywood's fundamentalist terrorists
	Islamic fundamentalism in Egyptian and Algerian cinemas
	Conclusion
Epilogue: On Differences, Resistance and Nationalism
	On difference
	On resistance
	On nationalism
	Beyond the East/West divide
Bibliography
Filmography
General Index
Index of Films
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Filming the Modern Middle East

Page 127

events in the history of Jews” (p. 93). The Holocaust thus is part of Israel’s
social memory (Collard 1989) that endows it with a definite identity (Smith
1986) and that outlines its conflict with the Arab outsiders.

In The Ambassador, Hacker is taken by an Israeli man to visit a
Holocaust exhibition, where still images of Holocaust victims are projected
as slides. Later in the film, Hacker brings together Israeli and Palestinian
students to meet at a Roman archeological site in Jerusalem in order to
discuss ways of reaching peace. As the students squat on the ground, the
Israelis on one side, the Palestinians on the other, with Hacker in the middle,
they light candles, and then get up chanting “Peace.” However, a Saika (a
Palestinian-Syrian group portrayed as rejecting peace with Israel) man in
a kaffiyya emerges from the ruins and shoots at the students. Close-ups of
faces exploding with blood and heads being blown up are followed by
shots of bodies lying on the ground, as Hacker is crushed in the middle.
The images of the students’ dead bodies mirror the images of Holocaust
victims seen in the slide exhibition earlier, establishing Palestinian terrorism
as a new Holocaust. This is also invoked in The Delta Force. Abdo Rifa’i,
the hijacker of a flight on a Greece–Rome–New York route, summons the
German hostess to pick passenger passports that have Jewish names. When
she refuses, saying being German invokes the Nazis, and advising Abdo
that he wouldn’t want to be associated with “Nazis who killed 6 million
Jews,” he replies by saying “Not enough.” A female Jewish passenger reacts
by saying “No, this can’t be happening, not again,” to which her husband
replies, “We survived once; we can do it again.”

The films often regiment Palestinians and Arabs vis-à-vis Israelis and
Jews, but at the same time present Palestinians in conflict. The films thus
homogenize Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular in ascribing
them a tribal status that invokes Orientalist discourses, where the Orient is
uncivilized and unable to rule itself, thereby necessitating control by the
Occident. This is portrayed through numerous terrorist activities conducted
by Arabs against Israelis and Americans. Examples can be seen in The
Ambassador, where Hacker survives an assassination attempt by the Saika
group (described in the film as an extreme Syria-based terrorist PLO faction
that threatens the establishment of peace in the Middle East). In reality Saika,
created in 1968, was part of Syrian president Assad’s regime, and engaged
in attacks against Palestinians in Lebanon in 1967 despite belonging to the

114 FILMING THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST

Page 128

PLO, and became anti-PLO after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982
because of a clash of interests over Lebanon (Nasr 1997). Therefore, on one
hand, the films merge conflicting parties under a barbaric Arab/Palestinian
umbrella. This also mythologizes the Arab Other as an abstract threat, as
seen in Executive Decision, where an unidentified suicide bomber in London
declares his support for Palestinians and Bosnians before blowing himself
up. The film presents this at its beginning, as a context for a plane hijacking
by Arab terrorists later. However, the bomber’s Arabic, un-subtitled declara-
tion makes it difficult for non-Arabic speakers to establish this context,
leaving the hijacking and the American rescue it entails as a mere classic
battle between good and evil.

On the other hand, the films present conflict among Palestinians,
ascribing the Palestinians a primitive status that is contrasted with that
of modern Israelis and Americans (Wilmer 1997). This is an illustration of
how “group identities must always be defined in relation to what they are
not” (Eriksen 1997, p. 37). The Ambassador presents a PLO member,
Mustafa, who tells Israelis and Americans “You must recognize that
Palestine is a nation, and not a tribe.” Yet his statement is undermined when
he declares that the PLO wants peace while it is extremists who want
revenge, which the film follows by an attack by Saika on Mustafa and the
group he is addressing. Thus, Mustafa remains a mere token in a sea of Arab
protagonists, his discourse drowning in theirs. As Spivak argues, tokenism
does not allow the subaltern to speak: “when you are perceived as a token,
you are also silenced” (1990, p. 61).

Both the homogenization of Israelis and Jews, on the one hand, and
of Palestinians and Arabs, on the other hand, and the presentation of the
Arab–Israeli conflict as an ethnic one are problematic. Homogenization
is problematic because it essentializes Israelis and Arabs. Much has been
written on the essentialism of Arabs in Hollywood (for example, Jack
Shaheen’s [2001] book Reel Bad Arabs). A similar statement can be made
on the essentialism of Israelis, namely through the work of Ella Shohat and
Robert Paine. Paine (1989) points out the complexity of the allocation of
identity (as Zionist, Jewish, or Israeli) to a land of immigrants with different
cultural and social backgrounds. He also points out that the unifying
discourse disregards how Zionism has changed over time. Shohat (1997a)
argues that Zionism presents a “ ‘proof’ of a single Jewish experience”

CONFLICTS WITHIN AND WITHOUT 115

Page 254

11’09’’01 – September 11 177, 185
48 Hours in Israel 98, 101, 135,
The Ambassador 77–79, 110, 112, 114,

115, 118, 119, 162
Bab el-Oued City 37, 38, 184, 187, 192,

193, 196, 198
Birds of Darkness 90, 184, 186, 187,

190, 191, 195, 196
Black Rain 69
Borders 144–146
Bowling for Columbine 9
Canticle of the Stones 123, 153
Chronicle of a Disappearance 126–131
The Closed Doors 186, 188, 189,

191
Coming to America 180
Courage Under Fire 22, 26, 70, 77, 103,

208
Curfew 51
Days of Sadat 138, 139, 187, 193
The Delta Force 24–26, 28, 66, 73, 110,

112–114, 118, 119, 174, 175, 178,
179, 182, 183, 209

Destiny 36, 189, 191, 196, 205
Die Hard 64
Divine Intervention 126, 129, 130, 131,

133, 134
Don Juan de Marco 7
The Door to the Sun 92, 99, 123, 153
The Emigrant 191
Execution of a Dead Man 84, 135

Executive Decision 28, 66, 73, 115, 175,
176, 178, 179, 182, 183, 196

Fahrenheit 9/11 9
The Fertile Memory 50, 92, 93, 139
Girl from Israel 43, 84, 85, 102, 122
The Gulf War. . . What Next? 11, 105,

155
The Guys 177
Hello America 9, 148, 151, 159, 184
Hero from the South 139
Hostage 5, 28, 66, 73, 175, 178–183,

209
Hot Shots 181
Hot Shots! Part Deux 181
Hysteria 190
In the Army Now 8, 22, 26, 31, 75,

182
In the Ninth Month 97, 124
Iron Eagle 20, 66, 180, 181
The Insider 24, 25
Into the Sun 23, 66, 76, 178
Jesus of Nazareth 157
Killing Streets 24, 26, 66, 73
Kite 54
The Little Drummer Girl 77–79, 107,

111–113, 117, 118, 162
Love in Taba 84, 85, 122
The Matrix 132
The Milky Way 149, 158
Mission in Tel-Aviv 98, 135
The Mummy 5, 6

Index of Films

Page 255

Naji Al-Ali 44, 45, 47, 48, 98, 100, 101,
148–151, 158–160, 162

Nasser 56 44, 45, 106, 136, 138, 208
Nasser 44, 45, 82, 136, 137, 184, 208
Navy Seals 8, 21, 24–26, 66, 74, 182,

196
The Nights of the Jackal 144, 145
October 49
The Olive Harvest 54, 55
The Other 33, 34, 39, 40, 42, 86, 89,

90,185, 188–190, 191, 193, 196,
197, 209

Power 23, 24, 69, 70, 76
Programmed to Kill 24–26, 66, 119, 175,

178, 179
Rachida 37, 95, 96, 186, 192, 195, 196,

198
Rambo: First Blood 69
Rana’s Wedding 93, 94, 126
Refuge 141
Rocky IV 64
Road to Eilat 44, 45, 98, 99, 122, 135
Rules of Engagement 20, 22, 24, 25, 66,

68, 103, 208

The Sheik 8
The Siege 6, 20, 21, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31,

33, 77–79, 119, 174, 175, 177, 179,
180, 196, 198, 207

South Park 76
Spy Game 24, 25, 66, 73, 74
A Summer in la Goulette 58, 59
Tale of Three Jewels 126–128
Team America: World Police 180
The Tempest 105, 147, 155
The Terminator 69
Terrorism and Barbecue 87, 88, 184,

186, 188, 191, 194, 196, 198
The Terrorist 33–35, 89, 90, 172, 184,

186, 189–193, 195, 196
Three Kings 5, 8, 23, 26, 27, 31, 69, 71,

75, 103, 178, 180
Ticket to Jerusalem 52, 53
Trap of Spies 84, 122, 135, 136
Triumph of the Will 19
True Lies 6, 28, 29, 66, 67, 73
Wedding in Galilee 49, 51, 95, 126

242 INDEX OF FILMS

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