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act as a censor through its monopoly on renting out props for film production. Finally I got the letter from Peres [telling me] that I would get what I need for the movie from the Ministry of Defense, but I must not say that I got any aid from the army. And when [the film] was shown to the censor, they only wanted to change one line, where a commanding officer orders a female soldier to go make love to him. TO: Is official censorship very common? JN: There is still a censor, and some movies are banned outright. Just now a film about alleged war crimes that took place in the Jenin refugee camp, Jenin, Jenin, [made by] an Israeli Palestinian named Mohammed Bakri was banned in Israel. In addition, it was supposed to be broadcast by Arte, a prestigious television network in Europe. But there was so much pressure put on the network that they pulled it off the air. So censorship is everywhere. You could argue that what you see in war coverage on the American television now is censorship, even though it’s not institutionalized. It’s self-service censorship. TO: By that do you mean that it’s motivated by commercial interests to not lose audience share or advertisers? JN: It’s not about commercial interests. It’s just ideology, the ideology of American patriotism deciding what is shown on television. This is the way democracy works in terms of censorship.There’s financial issues, there’s films that just don’t get distributed. For example, my film Streets of Yesterday political figure who was assassinated by another Jew. It showed in the Cinematheque, but no one would distribute it, because they said this is an abomination, that it can never happen. This was six years before the assassination of Rabin. But they wouldn’t distribute it after, either, because they said it was now obsolete. This film had another problem, which was languages. I produced the film for Channel 4 in London, which gave me most of the money to make Judd Ne’eman Rachel Proctor the film, but I had to find other funding. The people who put up the rest of the money wanted the movie to be in English. So I decided to make a second version in Hebrew, Arabic, and German. I went to the Israeli government film fund and asked for money to make the [non-English] version, a relatively small amount of money, $100,000 or $200,000. But the readers said the script wasn’t good enough, that they were rejecting it for artistic reasons. Later I had the chance to read the readers’ reports, and obviously it was political. So I didn’t get the money and didn’t make a non-English version. It didn’t get distributed in Israelof course Israeli audiences won’t want to watch Israeli and Palestinian characters speaking English. It also hurt foreign reception. The film was selected for the Venice Film Festival, but they asked for the version [in Hebrew and Arabic], and when I couldn’t give them one, they sent me a letter saying they couldn’t show an Israeli movie in English. I still have that letter. So this is the complexity. It’s very subtle and nothing official, but it is ideological. TO: What changed in the ’90s that people stopped making political films? JN: What we did in the late 1970s, myself and Ram Loevy and Eli Mosheshen, was a pioneering political act, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. These films started a wave of films that were telling a new history of the Palestinians, the Holocaust, the relationship between the Yishuv [Jews living in Palestine before 1948] and the survivors of the Holocaust, and their relations with the Arab Jews. And then came literary works, plays, and histories, like a snowball, because Israeli culture was dealing with all the traumas they had suffered, and also their guilt. Together these two strong feelings of trauma and guilt created a wave in Israeli culture. But there is a counterwave starting now Of nationalism. Of not wanting to look at ourselves and instead preferring to point out the blood on the hands of the Palestinians. Of rejecting Arafat as a legitimate leader because there’s blood on his hands. Does our prime minister have no blood on his hands? So I’m very happy to see any films and histories that excavate and uncover the atrocities and war crimes of the Israelis in Palestine. It’s the first step towards reconciliation, like what they did in South Africa with these truth and reconciliation commissions. You have to tell the truth first. Tell the truth! Say what you did, what crimes you committed. And maybe you have all kinds of explanations: It was war, we didn’t understand. But tell the truth. That those people were expelled, and there was a massacre in Sabra and Shatila [refugee camps in Lebanon] and the Israeli Army was in charge at that time as an occupier, and Ariel Sharon was the Minister of Defense. So I’m happy for the films and new historians that tell about the predicament of the Palestinians and the Holocaust survivors and the Jews from Arab countries. I say, give me more. And I’m also waiting for the day when Palestinians will have their own new historians, who will look into their own problems of conscience, of human rights, to see what was wrong there. And it is starting. But that’s their business, not mine. I will deal with the problems of my society. This is my duty and I have done my lot. And paid the price. Rachel Proctor is a writer in Austin. 5/9/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27