Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Pierre Rehov, a nom de guerre, is indeed a resistance fighter; he resists the Islamist propaganda wars against Israel, the Jews, and the West by making films that document the truth.
He is the documentarian of the Al-Aqsa intifada; the filmmaker who showed us what Jenin was really about (“The Road to Jenin”) and who the suicide bombers really are (“Suicide Killers”). Early on, in “The Silent Exodus,” Rehov documented the story of Arab and North African Jews who were forced to flee their homelands. And in “The Trojan Horse/Holy Land: Christians in Peril,” he detailed the persecution of Christians in the Islamist Middle East.
Rehov, a North African (Algerian) Jew who fled his homeland for France in 1961, is not just an armchair observer. His weapon is his camera, which he takes with him into dangerous war zones. I have known him for five years now and am proud to have championed his documentaries by posting them on my website in 2004. At the time, more than 30,000 people viewed two of his films in five weeks. Now, thankfully, his many films are available for sale at his own website (www.pierrerehov.com).
Last month I unexpectedly ran into Rehov at a luncheon in Manhattan. I asked him how long he would be visiting the U.S. His answer startled me. He said he was here to stay, that he could no longer live in Paris, that the very air there had become poisoned with anti-Israel sentiment, and that his pro-Israel activism had led to unending legal and financial problems for himself and for other pro-Israel activists.
While living in France, Rehov was a novelist and a magazine publisher. His business ventures took him everywhere, including Morocco. In the mid-1990s, he was sharing a very friendly, at-home dinner with a Moroccan Muslim business client and his wife when the man, albeit under the influence, suddenly began weeping uncontrollably and told him, “You’re a really nice guy but you’re a Jew, and I know that one day I will have to kill you.”
We are talking about a secular Muslim, a sophisticated individual – politics was not being discussed, nor was Israel or Judaism. Yet out of such alcoholic depths warriors sometimes spring.
That was a turning point for Rehov. He vowed not to remain a bystander or appeaser.
When the intifada of 2000 broke out, he was ready. He was the first person who challenged the Al-Dura blood libel. The horrific, faked murder of a Palestinian child was first aired on and promoted globally by France’s Channel Two. Rehov sued Channel Two; he even persuaded the French B’nai Brith to back his lawsuit. He spent eight months researching the matter, only to see his case dismissed in six weeks.
Philippe Karsenty, another hero, was sued by Channel Two for defamation because he, too, continued to insist that the Al Dura killing was a hoax. Had Karsenty lost, he could have been jailed. After seven hard years, Karsenty was finally vindicated in a French court – a victory Channel Two is still appealing.
Israel was demonized all over the world in the wake of the alleged Al Dura murder. Rehov tried to rally French Jewish organizations to hold the French government legally responsible for having defamed the Jewish state. (Channel Two is a government-owned station). He went to Israel (he holds an Israeli passport) to look into the case. A German filmmaker, Esther Schapira, made a documentary in which she raised all the issues. Rehov persuaded a Jewish organization to buy the rights so that the film could be widely distributed.
The Israeli government and most Jewish organizations preferred not to make a fuss. Perhaps they hoped the world would just forget the Al Dura blood libel. That did not stop Rehov. French passport in hand, he assembled a crew and took his digital camera to extremely dangerous places in the West Bank and Gaza.
In one film after the other, he exposed the Palestinian propaganda-and-hate machine, documenting, among other issues, the truth about the Palestinian refugees, the abuse of Jews in Arab lands and the persecution of Christians in the disputed territories and the Muslim world, and the real stories of the Palestinian takeover of the Church of the Nativity and the non-massacre in Jenin.
But he could not persuade a single station in France to show any of his films. (I myself failed to interest HBO and PBS in airing his films in the U.S., though both have aired films with very opposite points of view). So Rehov ingeniously used French freedom of expression laws in order to distribute his films. He created a political magazine he called Contre Champs (Reverse Angle), and inserted a copy of his documentaries in each issue. The magazines sold like hotcakes.
He is now working on a new film script – not a documentary this time but a feature film. If he can get it produced, it may indeed influence the course of events. I can say no more about it at this time.
I mentioned to Rehov my fear that America was undergoing the same Islamification process – albeit at a slower, more subtle pace – that had convinced him it was time to leave France, and that it remains to be seen whether we will be strong enough to stand up to it.
He responded, “I am afraid that no one will understand this until there is another terrorist attack on American soil.”
Said I, mournfully: “That might wake up the Christians, but not the Jews.”
About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.
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