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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 29, 2005 / 28 Kislev, 5766

Hollywood's bad guy problem

By Max Boot


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When you think about it, World War II was far from black and white. Sure, the German and Japanese militarists were evil, but Britain and the United States did terrible things too. They killed hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese civilians, and they allied themselves with the Soviet Union, which was every bit as awful as the Axis. The outcome was ambiguous because, although Germany and Japan were defeated, the Iron Curtain descended from Eastern Europe to North Korea.


Yet for 60 years, Hollywood has had no problem making movies that depict World War II as a struggle of good versus evil. Rightly so. Because for all the Allies' faults, they were the good guys.


For some reason, Hollywood can't take an equally clear-eyed view of the war on terrorism. The current conflict, pitting the forces of freedom against those of Islamo-fascism, is every bit as clear cut as World War II. Yet fashionable filmmakers insist on painting both sides in shades of gray, as if Israeli secret agents or American soldiers were comparable to Al Qaeda killers. Two of the most serious holiday flicks — "Syriana" and "Munich" — are case studies in mindless moral relativism and pathetic pseudo-sophistication.


"Syriana" purports to shed light on the relationship between oil, terrorism, the United States and the Middle East. Unfortunately, the plot makes almost no sense. Even the title is puzzling. Writer/director Stephen Gaghan claims that he heard "Syriana" used in "think tanks in Washington" to refer to a "redrawing of the boundaries in the Middle East." I work in a think tank with a large D.C. office, and I've never heard that term. Neither have Middle East experts I consulted. In any case, the movie has nothing to do with redrawing boundaries. In short, the title is an attempt at a knowing insider allusion that only illuminates Gaghan's cluelessness.


To the extent that "Syriana" has any message, it seems to be that greedy oil companies, corrupt politicians and malevolent CIA big shots are the bad guys in the Middle East. Two of the most positive characters are a Hezbollah kingpin, who offers CIA operative Bob Barnes (George Clooney) safe passage, and a Pakistani laborer who is driven to become a suicide bomber after being laid off by an American oil company.


The Bob character is said to be based on former CIA officer Robert Baer, but "Syriana" has nothing in common with his memoir, "See No Evil," which depicted his struggles in the 1980s against Hezbollah and in the 1990s against Saddam Hussein.


In real life, Baer got into trouble for plotting to kill Hussein, a terrible dictator. In reel life, Bob gets in trouble for trying to kill a nice Persian Gulf prince who apparently offends Washington by wanting to sell oil to a Chinese, not an American, firm. That's quite a difference. News flash to Gaghan: Canada has agreed to sell oil to China, and the CIA isn't bumping off Canadian leaders.


"Munich" is a more compelling film but just as specious morally. It tells the story of a Mossad hit team sent to avenge the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics by eliminating 11 Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis become tortured by their assignment. As one team member says: "All this blood comes back to us." The movie reinforces this cycle-of-violence theme with constant references to all the terrorist attacks carried out by the PLO after the Olympics. The implication is that if the Israelis weren't killing PLO operatives, they would stop killing Jews.


Director Steven Spielberg has made clear that's his view, telling Time magazine: "A response to a response doesn't really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine…. The only thing that's going to solve this is rational minds, a lot of sitting down and talking until you're blue in the gills."


Where has Spielberg been for the last 15 years? Israel tried his "blue in the gills" approach in the 1990s, but the Oslo process only led to greater bloodshed. Israel defeated the second intifada not by chatting with terrorists but by fighting them. "Munich" depicts assassinations as pointless. In reality, Israel's policy of targeted killings has dramatically reduced the threat from Hamas and other extremist groups.


The lesson of World War II still stands: Civilized countries must use violence to defeat barbarians. Why is that so hard for Hollywood to understand?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

BOOT'S LATEST
The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power  

The book was selected as one of the best books of 2002 by The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor. It also won the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award, given annually by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for the best nonfiction book pertaining to Marine Corps history. Sales help fund JWR.



Max Boot is Olin Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times. To comment, please click here.


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