Hollywood Hath No Fury Like a Jewish State Scorned

By Liel Leibovitz

Published February 24, 2009.
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Dear Hollywood,

I watched the Academy Awards on Sunday, and I’m very disappointed in you.

I’m not talking about Hugh Jackman’s song-and-dance numbers, or the inane montages and lengthy intros that made an already time-consuming ceremony feel even more protracted.

I’m talking about Israel.

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Let’s be honest here, Hollywood: Israel deserved that Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Not only did its entry, “Waltz With Bashir”,” win every other imaginable laurel, but also it was much better than its competitors. While France sent a ruminative little movie about a teacher and his culturally diverse class, Austria delivered a cool crime caper and Germany dispatched a dithering docudrama about terrorists from the 1970s, Israel’s movie was about war, identity, and memory — the fundamentals of modern life. In animated form, no less. And with a rockin’ soundtrack. And yet, the prize went to Japan, whose film, “Departures”, is a slow-moving snoozer about the poetic nature of death and dying.

And that’s not right, Hollywood, not right at all.

Now, if you know anything about Israel, you should know that it’s not the type of country that takes attacks lightly. Just ask Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Palestinians: You mess with us, and we retaliate. And you, Hollywood, are no different. Last Sunday night was an assault on our national honor.

Don’t worry. We’re not going to send our air force to bomb the Beverly Wilshire. We’ve thought about it, of course, but with so many Israelis living in Los Angeles, an air strike would be counter-productive.

We have something else in mind: a series of sanctions designed to hit you where it hurts most. And although I’m no more than a lowly lieutenant in reserve in the Israel Defense Forces, I’ve made a few phone calls and managed to get Israel’s secret plan of attack. Here goes.

As a first step, we’re going to recall Hiam Abbass, the gorgeous and talented Israeli-Arab actress who starred alongside the Oscar-nominated Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor.” In the next year or two, Hiam is scheduled to grace some of independent cinema’s biggest productions, and was cast in new films by no lesser indie princes than Jim Jarmusch and Julian Schnabel.

But you don’t care too much for independent cinema, do you, Hollywood? For you it’s all about big money and big box office bucks. Fine. We can strike there, too, with one call to our homegirl Noa Tishby. Not only will we get her to withdraw from “Big Love,” where she plays the brash bombshell Ladonna, but we’ll get her to cancel “In Treatment”, a show she helped bring from Israel to America and of which she’s the co-executive producer. No “In Treatment,” no “Big Love”: let’s see how well HBO can do without us.

That’s TV, you say? You only care about movie stars? Alright, then: If after all of this you still fail to admit your error and award Israel its first-ever Oscar, we’ll have no choice but to pull out the ultimate weapon, Bar Refaeli. Let’s see you telling Leonardo DiCaprio that his girlfriend isn’t allowed to date him anymore because a few members of the Academy decided to rob us of our just honors.

By the way, it’s the same Refaeli who is on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. We’re going to have to take that back, too. If you’re going to play tough, Hollywood, we suggest you find some Iranian models to star in your soft-core erotic fantasies, because our girls are staying in Tel Aviv.

And so, Hollywood, it’s not too late. All you have to do is call Japan, apologize for the terrible misunderstanding, and hand the award over to us. We don’t even need a ceremony, and we’ve never been ones for speeches. Otherwise, well, we’ll be angry. And you won’t like us when we’re angry. That’s a paraphrase from the movie “The Incredible Hulk”; it was produced by the head of Marvel Studios, one Avi Arad. Guess where he’s from.


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