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‘Miral’: When Good Publicity Trumps Bad Reviews

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On March 25, Schnabel and/or director John Kilik or distributor Harvey Weinstein paid for a full-page New York Times ad for the film and for a full-page reprint of the only positive review of the film I have been able to find (at least so far).

The review was written by Danielle Berrin for the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal and comes to 1,024 words. Berrin perhaps tries to drum up sales by suggesting the film has already earned the “ire” and “condemnation” of the organized Jewish community, which will only impede or delay the “peace process” or, in more hopeful Hollywood terms, lead to controversy, publicity, and ticket sales.

Also on March 25, the Times reviewed the film. A.O. Scott did not much like it, but took more than 900 words to say so. And yes, yet another photo accompanied the review.

Thus, in three days this film and its director received more than 5,000 well-placed words and eight photos in The New York Times. And in roughly the same time period, (mainly negative) reviews and (mainly positive) interviews with the director appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Jewish Week, the New York Post and the Forward.

Despite strong objections from the Israeli deputy ambassador, the film was formally screened on March 14 at the United Nations. (A showing of the film and post-viewing conversation with Schnabel set for the 92nd Street Y on March 31 was canceled due, according to the Y, to a “scheduling conflict.”)

In sum, this is a film that, though far from an artistic masterpiece and filled with lie after lie, may – given its Manhattan-style publicity and politically correct views – enjoy a long and profitable life on campuses, at interfaith, international, and civil rights conferences and at film festivals.

“Miral” may live on to poison the minds of yet another unsuspecting generation.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, who would like to acknowledge the contribution to this essay of her assistant Nathan Bloom, is co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network as well as the author of many works including “Women and Madness” (1972) and “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003). She can be contacted through her website, www.phyllis-chesler.com.

About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of sixteen books including “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003, 2014), “Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews, 2003-2015 (2015), and “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013), for which she won the National Jewish Book Award in the category of memoirs. Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com. A version of this piece appeared on IsraelNationalNews.com.

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