Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Blog

Over the past several days, the Israeli delegation to the UN, along with several so-called “pro-Israel” organizations, vehemently protested the UN General Assembly hall screening of Miral, a film that portrays the life of a Palestinian orphan living through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film was denounced by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) as “portray[ing] Israel in a highly negative light,” by the ADL as “distort[ing] historical facts,” and by the Israeli delegation to the UN as “scandalous.” Much of the uproar was directed at the President of the UN General Assembly, Switzerland’s Joseph Deiss, for sponsoring the screening. The AJC’s David Harris said he was perplexed by why the UNGA President would wish to associate “the prestige of his office with such a blatantly one-sided event.”

Despite the furor, the Monday night screening didn’t only proceed as planned, but was attended by such celebrities as Robert De Niro, Dan Rather, Sean Penn, and others. Dan Rather moderated the discussion that followed the film on a panel that included Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli air-force captain and co-founder of Combatants for Peace. Prominent American film producer and co-founder of Miramax Films Harvey Weinstein defended the film, saying it actually promoted peace, and dismissed the film’s opponents as “crazy and wrong.”

Miral is directed by Julian Schnabel, and is based on the life story of his girlfriend Rula Jebreal, who wrote a semi-autobiographical novel under the same name. Schanbel said “that he thought young people would see and respond to the movie.”


It is also worth noting that Robert De Niro, along with Christiane Amanpour, attended last year’s New York debut of Budrus, JustVision’s film which focuses on Israeli-Palestinian non-violent cooperation against the route of Israel’s illegal separation barrier in the West Bank. These are all signs that the discourse is shifting in a very real way in the American mainstream on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The narrative is no longer exclusive to those who insist on inverting the reality of the conflict, and now includes voices that bring a taste of Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation to an American audience.  Miral opens in select theatres on March 25th. For more information on the film, visit

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