Six months ago, Pierre Rehov sat in an Israeli jail, interviewing a 16-year-old boy for his newest, forthcoming documentary, Suicide Killers. He wanted to be a martyr, he told Rehov, because “the Jews killed the prophet Mohammed.” Told that this is not in the Koran, the illiterate boy insisted that it is. He wants nothing but to die killing others.
When Rehov's new film is released later this year, it will be the seventh in a series of documentaries on Israel since Rehov returned to France on Sept. 30, 2000, flipped on the television, and saw photographs of Mohammed Al Durrah. As an experienced filmmaker, he says today, he realized—in the moment—that the “news” of the boy's death in Gaza's Netzarim junction had been faked.
Fakery played in the headlines again this week. Mohamed Bakri, the maker of Jenin Jenin, admitted in a deposition that he had faked scenes in his “documentary” concerning Israel's Operation Defensive Shield in March and April 2002. The incursion came following a wave of suicide bombings that killed dozens and injured hundreds in late 2003 and early 2004. Rehov's film, The Road to Jenin, is cited in the plaintiffs' complaint against Bakri.
“I got into films because of Mohammed Al Durrah,” Rehov said last week, on the eve of a three night New York City film festival that drew more than 600 spectators and generated dozens of news articles on the filmmaker. In September 2000, he had just finished researching a book project on a 12th century blood libel—one of the first ever—against the Jewish people.
In March 1144, a tanner's apprentice named William was found murdered in Norwich, England. His violent death was blamed upon the Jewish people. It was said that in the Passover season, people of Jewish faith seized and tortured Christian children and drained their blood to bake in unleavened Passover bread, or matzo.
This was only the beginning; the frequency of blood libel charges against the Jewish people increased throughout medieval times. Rehov recalled that there had been previous blood libels in the Islamic world, most notably in Damascus in 1840, which although originated and fomented by Christian monks and a French consul, certainly found fertile ground in the Middle East. While western civilization today largely rejects the blood libel, however, it has become a fixture in Islamic culture.
Scholars like Jacques Ellul even believe that the idea of jihad, originated in Islam, was passed to Europe during the Crusades.
Thus Rehov immediately recognized in the Al Durrah story the traits of the blood libel phenomenon he had just studied so closely.
Rehov's newest film, when it is released, will detail the motivations of suicide killers. “I interviewed a few cases of survivors of terror, young beautiful girls. But the deeper I got into the film, the more I realized that I did not want to make a film like everyone else,” he says now. “This will not be a film about how you build a new life. What every one wanted to talk about,”—and the thing that ultimately captivated Rehov as well—”was the smile and the behavior of the terrorist before he blew himself up. I wanted to be in him, I wanted to know what he feels the second before detonating.”
So it is that Rehov has interviewed psychologists, political analysts, sociologists, religious scholars and others to discuss the psychopathology of the bombers, what mechanism functions in a kamikaze. Surprisingly, he found that sexuality has a great deal to do with it. “In their society, young men are forbidden to have a real relationship with a woman. So when you ask them what they are going to become, they are not trying to become engineers, doctors or professionals. Their entire society believes that a man becomes a hero by blowing himself up. They believe that the next second, they are in heaven, surrounded by huries. It is pure sexual fantasy.”
When he started this work, Rehov says, combating the notion that the state of Israel had intentionally killed a child was easier said than done. Rehov first sued France 2 and France 2 reporter Talal Abu Rahmah, who had managed the entire Al Durrah mise en scene; Rahmah's uncle helped to write the Islamist Palestine Liberation Organization Charter, Rehov adds. The French court threw out his lawsuit within six weeks.
But Rehov remained undaunted. Rehov decided next to fight fire with fire. If Arab Palestinians and the global media could use images so effectively to malign Israel, images could also be used to tell the truthful side of the story. Within a matter of months, Rehov completed work on The War of Images, a documentary exposing the level of daily incitement to hatred in Palestinian Authority television and other media. He finished the low-budget film in six weeks, and quickly sold more than 50,000 copies worldwide.
Next came Rehov's production of a two-part film, Holy Land: Christians in Peril, and The Trojan Horse. The former described the diminution of Christians in the Arab world from 10% of the population to less than 2% now, and showed the ways in which Christians have been forced out of traditionally Christian towns like Bethlehem and Nazareth. The second exposed the early planning of Yasser Arafat's Al Aksa war, before and during Camp David II. Rehov sold both films through WorldNetDaily.com which has distributed tens of thousands of copies.
Rehov has yet to crack the major television news media, nor has he yet elicited the assistance of major Jewish organizations to support his work. But he has continued making films, from proceeds of his own businesses.
In 2004, Rehov released The Silent Exodus, concerning the persecution and exodus of one million Jews from Arab countries. Rehov himself was forced to flee Algiers with his family when he was 10. Of one million Jews who lived in the Middle East for thousands of years, today less than 5,000 remain in the Arab nations, according to historian and United Nations NGO David G. Littman, whom Rehov interviews on camera.
The Silent Exodus opens with an interview of a 36-year-old woman, who recounts an experience in Baghdad in 1969, when she was 12. She was kidnapped from school, and brought to a room where she was told, “Look, you have to say that your family and your father are spies, and you have... a telephone, a special phone in your home, and you have a connection... to Israel.” After several hours, her kidnapper began beating her. Then he brought in four friends, and told them, “Enjoy yourself. She's a young Jewish virgin... Enjoy yourself.” The film also contains extraordinary footage of massacres of Jews in Morocco in 1906, long before Zionism could be blamed.
The film also follows the routes taken by one million Jews from Arab nations, who lost their businesses, their homes homes and all their possessions. Arab governments allowed the victims to take only what they were wearing, watches and wedding bands—and a total of less than 70 pounds of clothing. Even the Soviet government, at the height of the cold war, allowed Jewish emigrants to take more—a total of 200 pounds per person. [i] Overall, the Jewish people of Arab lands lost lost tens of billions of dollars, documents and interviews show.
By way of contrast, the opening night of the film festival also featured Hostages of Hatred, exposing the extraordinary level of corruption in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Founded in 1949 and established in 1950, UNRWA has abused its mandate, and itself become a tool of terror. In addition to staffing Hamas and other terror organizations, UNRWA employees were filmed using UN ambulances and other equipment to transport armed terrorists, bombs and other weapons. UNRWA employees were also taped calling for Israel's destruction.
Terror aside, UNRWA is also a seat of mass corruption. Its annual $400 million budget (including $90 million from the U.S.) compares with the $881 million budget for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Some 23,000 UNRWA employees care for an estimated 3.9 million Arab “refugees,” compared with an UNHCR staff of 5,000 to manage relief for nearly 20 million other refugees in the world today. Thus Rehov caught on tape UNRWA employees—one for every 170 Arab “refugees”—loitering around in groups of five to 10, with nothing whatever to do. Finally, he documented the obscene UNRWA retirement benefits, a fund whose assets now total some $10 billion. No other UN agency has such a fund.
In interviews with “refugees” in Barajneh, Shatila, Jabani, Wehdat, Kariout, Rafah and elsewhere in Lebanon, Jordan, Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Rehov shows that the vast majority of Arabs were not forced from their land, and could have returned to Israel to see their homes long ago, if they so chose. But most say they will not apply for permission from Israel to travel there until “Palestine is freed from the river to the sea.” They remain in camps merely to coalesce Arab opposition to Israel's statehood, to maintain a massive weapon—in the form of a perennially “displaced,” inflated, and growing, human population.
In the largest camp, according to Palestinian writer Said Abourish, “for 20 years they didn't have a single death.” All the aged and infirm were buried in the middle of the night, but deaths were never registered, so as to inflate the total number of “refugees” receiving United Nations aid.
UNRWA, concludes Palestinian human rights worker Bassam Eid, “should be closed.”
The festival also featured The Road to Jenin, the film that five Israel Defense Force soldiers cite in a recent lawsuit against Mohamed Bakri, whose false “documentary “Jenin, Jenin,” Bakri admitted last week was faked. The film charges that that Israel committed genocide in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002, killed a "large number" of civilians, mutilated Palestinian bodies, randomly executed and bombed women, children and the mentally and physically impaired, and leveled the entire camp, including a wing of the local hospital. The lawsuit counters, among other things, that Bakri's film endangers the plaintiffs' lives, as they continue to be in regular contact with Arabs in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and may be recognized and attacked as a result of false indications that they committed war crimes.
Unlike Bakri's propaganda, Rehov's film shows that very little damage actually occurred in Jenin, and that most of the men killed on the Palestinian side were in fact fighters. Rehov interviews Islamic Jihad assailants in the film, who confirm that they booby-trapped the entire town in order to kill Israelis.
Rehov's remarkable films are available from www.pierrerehov.com and www.worldnetdaily.com.
[i]Author's interviews with former Soviet emigrants.