A Filmmaker’s Second Thoughts

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The following article was originally published by The Sunday Independent.

I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing. So why did I change my mind so completely?

Strangely, it began with my anger at Israel’s incursion into Gaza in December 2008 which left over 1,200 Palestinians dead, compared to only 13 Israelis. I was so angered by this massacre I posed in the striped scarf of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for an art show catalogue.

Shortly after posing in that PLO scarf, I applied for funding from the Irish Arts Council to make a film in Israel and Palestine. I wanted to talk to these soldiers, to challenge their actions — and challenge the Israeli citizens who supported them.

I spent seven weeks in the area, dividing my time evenly between Israel and the West Bank. I started in Israel. The locals were suspicious. We were Irish — from a country which is one of Israel’s chief critics — and we were filmmakers. We were the enemy.

Then I crossed over into the West Bank. Suddenly, being Irish wasn’t a problem. Provo graffiti adorned The Wall. Bethlehem was Las Vegas for Jesus-freaks — neon crucifixes punctuated by posters of martyrs.

These martyrs followed us throughout the West Bank. They watched from lamp-posts and walls wherever we went. Like Jesus in the old Sacred Heart pictures.

But the more I felt the martyrs watching me, the more confused I became. After all, the Palestinian mantra was one of “non-violent resistance”. It was their motto, repeated over and over like responses at a Catholic mass.

Yet when I interviewed Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian government member, she sat forward angrily in her chair as she refused to condemn the actions of the suicide bombers. She was all aggression.

This aggression continued in Hebron, where I witnessed swastikas on a wall. As I set up my camera, an Israeli soldier shouted down from his rooftop position. A few months previously I might have ignored him as my political enemy. But now I stopped to talk. He only talked about Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer.

Back in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, I began to listen more closely to the Israeli side. I remember one conversation in Shenkin Street — Tel Aviv’s most fashionable quarter, a street where everybody looks as if they went to art college. I was outside a cafe interviewing a former soldier.

He talked slowly about his time in Gaza. He spoke about 20 Arab teenagers filled with ecstasy tablets and sent running towards the base he’d patrolled. Each strapped with a bomb and carrying a hand-held detonator.

The pills in their bloodstream meant they felt no pain. Only a headshot would take them down.

Conversations like this are normal in Tel Aviv. I began to experience the sense of isolation Israelis feel. An isolation that began in the ghettos of Europe and ended in Auschwitz.

Israel is a refuge — but a refuge under siege, a refuge where rockets rain death from the skies. And as I made the effort to empathise, to look at the world through their eyes. I began a new intellectual journey. One that would not be welcome back home.

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  • Suzanne

    I love it when someone begins to understand the truth. It's truly like a blind person who can now see. It's so hard in this world of never ending political correctness. I hope this young lady will inspire others in her generation to throw off these unbelievably heavy shackles of PC falsehoods. It takes guts.

  • Rivkah F.

    Nicky Larkin — you possess honesty and courage. You will not be alone forever. Someday others will wake up tooWomen like you give us hope that the thought police can & will be defeated. I hope your film will be shown in Jerusalem so I can see it.

    • Sound&Fury

      I think you've hit the nail on the head. The reason most of the left in the artistic community in Ireland or the US don't see the truth is their fear of going against the crowd. They fear personal rejection, loss of job opportunities, etc. She is one individual who has shown the courage to not only recognize, but to stand up for the truth.

  • Bartimaeus

    ."Perhaps our problem is not with Israel, but with our own over-stretched sense of importance — a sense of moral superiority disproportional to the importance of our little country?" I think this is a key statement. The position of the left on Israel is based on a need to feel morally superior and the actual facts are not required. It is refreshing to see someone open their heart and mind to the actual facts and drop the moral superiority blinders.

  • stern

    Thank you, Ms. Larkin, for having an open mind. I pray that your example will shine as a beacon and encourage others to follow.

  • Indioviejo

    Salud Ms. Larkin, it takes guts to admit one's weaknesses and failures in judgement. As they say, better late than never.

  • Victor Mc

    Whilst fully appreciating your sentiments Ms. Larkin you are now almost 30 years old and it took you all this time to understand propaganda and garbage churned out by Muslims over umpteen years, propaganda….when you are from Ireland. Tut tut.. Please carry on with you 'support' it is wanted and needed by Israel but Ireland and the fools in the arty world there are not even a mosquito in the great scheme of things worldwide. It's shame, but Israel won't give a sh*t about your pathetic little crowd, they deal with life and death every day. Rather like Ireland once did.

    • Questions

      Say Victor: In terms of political maturation, 30 is pretty young. Give the lady credit. David Horowitz, the esteemed proprietor of this site, didn't experience his Second Thoughts until he was at least 40. Why don't you brush him off, too?

      • Victor Mc

        Wow you are old fashioned my 18 YO granddaughter knows as much as this 30 year old.- From Ireland, the very home of terrorism over the last 50+ years. She grew up with it in her life which my granddaughter certainly did not.

        • mlcblog

          Seems like you know pretty much everything. I am sorry you felt you had to say Tut tut to this young woman who is just finding her feet.

  • maturin20

    It's a terrible thing to live in a battlefield.

  • kanehipolito

    Live in battlefield was really scary because you dont know if they going to war and you are in there. whoo you make me nervous..
    baby eagle

  • maria

    Oil money, Muslims vicious propaganda, taqiyya (lie to promote Islam) are behind Eroupean Leftists stand against Israel and for open Palestinians terrorists. Plus lack of History and religion knowledges. There were never such a nation as Palestinians, neither that Land belonged to any other nation except to Jews. Christians should know it at least as the Bible reflects history. I hope that Mrs. Larkin will go further and learn what is underline of that conflict and how Arabs concocted "Palestinians and their problem" to destroy Israel and make the final solution for Jews: kill them all. Israel destiny is Western civilization destiny. Islamists openly are saying that Islam would prevail. dominant in the World. Israel is in the first line in that battle with barbarians who still live on 7 century law (Shari'a) and give us chance "convert or die". Thank you Israel that you fight for our freedom! I am for for only one democracy in ME state Israel!

  • Rochelle Owens

    Bravo Nicky Larkin! Israelphobia = Meinkampf Rochelle Owens Poet Playwright

  • Whatsinaname

    As far as Ms. Larkin is concerned, I'm glad she took off her blindfold. I'm glad she can tell it like it is about Ireland, land of the: a) alcoholics; b) terrorists; c) self-pitying alcoholics and terrorists who can't stop blaming others for their self-created situation; d) anti-Semites; and e) self-important know-nothings who can't stop giving their opinions lest others forget that they exist.

    I was struck by the comment about the Palestinian teenage suicide bombers being loaded on ecstasy. There has got to be some kind of vile karma for the adults who manipulate kids that way from the time they are born. And to drug them lest they change their mind and hear the voice of God pleading with them to stop — that is pure evil.

  • Ghostwriter

    Thank you,Miss Larkin. Now if only imbeciles like Nakba1948 listened to how the Israelis feel,there might be some hope for peace. As long as they wallow in anti-semitic garbage,they'll never get anywhere.

    • aspacia

      Nakba loves her victimhood.

  • John Mac

    It is true, there is alot of work to do in Ireland in unravelling realities above the pro-palestinean gargon that is all too common in the media. And typically like Nicky Larkin's former perception these lefty pro-palestinean supporters would'nt have dreamt of supporying the IRA but somehow ignore the attrocities of palestinean terrorists – which were and are far more henious than any ever perpertrated by the IRA. ( what the PLO did in lebenon ranks them in eternal infamy, never to be in empowered in any state or governance)
    There is also a whole factor of ignoring ideologies as though these do not exist or that they are of equal relevence. ie that Israel as a liberal democracy – albeit one that needs to take emergency measures for its own security- is of no more importance than the Islamist ideology of hammas or the PA. ( It may be there that their double standards lie: they hold Israel to higher standards, ones they play off their own sense of humanism but not so the palestineans. otherwise they would clearly come on the side of Israel, Like nicky larkin just realised )

  • John Mac

    Robert Fisk is wheeled out as the go to 'expert' on all things middle eastern. ( try getting a letter critical of his columns and you better not hold your breath )
    Chomsky is also the touchstone for the inteiligencia of the left and their sustained apologies for islamic terrorism and cuba.. Go read THE ANTI CHOMSKY READER and it blow all their arguements out of the water. What a revelation of a book that must be recommended to chomsky readers so they will stop deluding themselves with his credited virtues..
    ( maybe nicky larkin will now join in the campaign to overthrow the blasphemy law that was introduced here a few years ago. as she comes to re-evaluate the primacy of freedom of speech. ( the PC brigade was very quite on that one; unimaginable if it were promted by the catholic church)

  • aspacia

    Good, we have another convert:-)