How to Protest “Palestinian Stories” When You Otherwise Like Netflix
When Netflix announced its group of films called Palestinian Stories, they invited subscribers to “discover all the greatness of Palestinian cinema with this heartfelt, humorous and captivating collection that features award-winning films and filmmakers.”
I had already critiqued one of the films included in the collection: The Present. Filled with lies, it was clearly just a vehicle for anti-Israel propaganda and I critiqued the film in depth. Therefore I turned to Facebook friends, seeking alternatives to Netflix. They provided a variety of suggestions.Yet I still am resistant to switch. For one reason only. Netflix brings movies from around the world, made by the locals and from within their own cultural and societal realities, not movies made about them by others, as we might find in Hollywood. American movies with Asian themes, for instance, are always in relation to the United States – either Asian immigrants and their experiences in America or Americans and their experiences in Asia.
On Netflix we find movies that are like opening a window into various peoples’ own societies — told by them and for themselves. I am enjoying films from Lebanon (and there is no anti-Israeli tone in them, even when dealing with war, such as Under the Bombs), from Korea (I love their detective films), a legal series from Abu Dhabi, and more. And herein lies the big difference between films from other countries and this set of films from the Palestinian Authority.
It is as if nothing else concerns the PA population other than “the occupation.” Every problem they have is seen through the lens of “the occupation.” The brief descriptions of these films show this. For example, for Salt of this Sea:
A Palestinian American woman travels to her homeland to retrieve her grandfather’s savings, which had been frozen since his exile during the Nakba.
we all in the Palestinian film industry have been eager to share our narrative with the world through our authentic creative productions as an alternative to news reporting.
And there we have it! They are not interested in making films that simply dramatize various aspects of their lives but, rather, that continue to convince the world of the validity of their “narrative.”
All art is produced by people who have biases – and we all have biases – but these “Palestinian Stories” take the bias further and anticipate that the naïve viewer will accept these fictions as an alternative to news reporting or, let me add, as a booster shot to biased anti-Israeli news reporting rampant in the media.
Do I have to miss all the other international offerings on Netflix that I appreciate in order to protest the use of its platform for Palestinian Stories that demonize my country? Or perhaps the best I can do is take advantage of this “opportunity” to view all the films and critique them all in the same way I did for “The Present“.
This is a slightly modified version of the opinion piece that was originally published in the Jerusalem Post on 23 October 2021.