Commentary Magazine


The Waltz’s Faults

In two separate posts on Friday, I wrote about the real reason the Israeli Left is in decline:

Making peace with the Palestinians and “ending the occupation” have become the Left’s overarching goals – to be achieved at all costs. That’s the real reason most Israelis – even some who are generally sympathetic to the Oslo days’ principles – are uncomfortable with its platforms. They want leaders working toward peace while keeping clear priorities: Israel first, the rest of the world second; Israel first, “ending the occupation” second; Israel first, making life better for Palestinians second.

And David Hazony wrote about the problematic political message of the Israeli Oscar nominee, Waltz with Bashir:

Waltz with Bashir has been a smashing success in Europe and stands a chance at winning an Oscar. Israelis, who are rightfully proud of their open society and culture of self-criticism, are beside themselves with joy. Should they be?

Enter Gideon Levy, one of the Israeli Left’s most eloquent (and most radical) champions. Levy also claims that Waltz is problematic — because it is not critical enough of Israel!

Hollywood will be enraptured, Europe will cheer and the Israeli Foreign Ministry will send the movie and its makers around the world to show off the country’s good side. But the truth is that it is propaganda. Stylish, sophisticated, gifted and tasteful – but propaganda. A new ambassador of culture will now join Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, and he too will be considered fabulously enlightened – so different from the bloodthirsty soldiers at the checkpoints, the pilots who bomb residential neighborhoods, the artillerymen who shell women and children, and the combat engineers who rip up streets. Here, instead, is the opposite picture. Animated, too. Of enlightened, beautiful Israel, anguished and self-righteous, dancing a waltz, with and without Bashir. Why do we need propagandists, officers, commentators and spokespersons who will convey “information”? We have this waltz.   

Apparently, the Europeans funding the film were tricked by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine. You can call it another victory for Israeli ingenuity. Or you can adduce it as another indication of the Israeli Left’s inability to convince voters that it can be trusted with the all too important task of governing.