Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Pierre Rehov, a French filmmaker who has filmed seven documentaries on the Palestinian Intifada. He collects his own footage on the field, often at high risk. This experience has taken him and his team to different war zones, such as Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Iraq, where he was the only French journalist to have been embedded in the US army. His documentaries are now available at Frontpagemag.com.
FP: Pierre Rehov, welcome to Frontpage, it is always a pleasure to conduct an interview with you.
Rehov: The pleasure is all mine Jamie.
FP: Your work is really amazing. It is almost impossible to find the material that is in your films anywhere else, or even from the Israeli government. Why is that?
Rehov: Contrary to Arab countries, or to the Palestinian Authority, Israel doesn’t have a propaganda machine. Being a democracy, Israel lets all kind of news, good or bad, fake or real, cross its borders and, as you can imagine, it is much safer for a journalist or a reporter to write or film material against Israel than to do the same against the “Palestinian cause.”
Making films is expensive and producing documentaries which show the real facts and therefore end up naturally being pro-Israel cannot be done without accepting big financial losses. If, with the same material, I had made pro-Palestinian films, I would have sold them to every single TV network in the world, and certainly made a lot of money. But the actual balance of my whole adventure is a loss of more than half a million dollars and very few TV networks accepted to air my films.
Thankfully, my company in France has been successful and I have received help from an amazingly generous gentleman, Dr Ivan Grossman, who passed 3 years ago. He was my dear friend and I would like to take the opportunity in this interview to send an homage to his memory.
When I look back, I believe that I was a little crazy to take so many risks, but, as one often says “someone had to do it.” The end result is 7 documentaries of which I am proud, while, all together, there might have been at the most 20 films made in favor of Israel or the West.
It is scary to think that my little team and I made a third of all films presenting the truth about the Middle East conflict.
FP: What is the truth in this conflict?
Rehov: Well, Jamie, there are facts on the ground. There are also numbers. To give you an example, if we go back to the so-called “Jenin massacre” (which was the theme of my other film “The road to Jenin,” in 2003), Palestinian propaganda claimed that the IDF killed 700 civilians and destroyed half the refugee camp. The real numbers were: 52 dead among Arabs, including 39 fighters in arms, and 23 dead among Israeli soldiers. Only 5% of the camp was destroyed, for security reasons, since most houses were booby trapped. This is not the definition of a massacre, but the outcome of a fierce fight.
And the term “refugee camp” itself is a distortion of reality, since the area is nothing but a suburb, with poor, ugly but also nice and luxury houses. So, the rest of the world heard “Israel committed a massacre in a Palestinian refugee camp” when the truth was “After dozens of terror attacks against his civilians, Israel conducted a military operation in the suburbs of Jenin with a limited number of casualties on both sides.”
The days I will read the second sentence in western media, instead of the first one, I will consider that they are trying to stick to the facts and to expose the “truth.” The same goes for most events, as related by our so-called “neutral” media.
For instance, who remembers almost one million Jews expelled from all Arab countries, between 1948 and 1974? Watch my film “Silent Exodus” on that matter. Almost nobody thinks of the Jews when hearing the word “refugees,” and immediately most people feel sorry for the “poor” Palestinians refugees, to the point that some are even considering a “right to return” for those people.
The truth? About 500.000 Arabs living in the region of Palestine (not a country ) moved away in the hope to return victorious with a Jordanian or Egyptian army, losing some houses and fields — which, in most cases, didn’t belong to them but to Turks or other Arabs living abroad, or even didn’t belong to anybody according to our rules of ownership. Meanwhile, 800 to 950.000 Jews fled from Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, Lybia, Egypt, losing stores, factories, businesses, houses etc.
If you had to give compensations to both parties, the amount to attribute to the Jews would be 5 to 10 times higher. But since those people found refuge in Israël and other western countries, while “Palestinians” were kept in camps by their “Muslim brothers” for decades, and for political reasons, automatically our generous soul leads us to feel sorry for the second, and forget the first. This is what I call another distortion of the “truth.”
FP: Let’s now turn to your most famous film, “Suicide Killers,” which gives the disturbing point of view on what you call “the psychopathology” of Suicide Bombers. Can you remind our readers what it is?
The making of this film led me to spend time with an impressive number of suicide terrorists, men and women, organizers of suicide attacks, and families of terrorists. At first, even though I didn’t buy the usual Muslim propaganda making Israel the bad guy, I didn’t really know what was behind this phenomenon. Was it out of despair, being unable to feed his family and seeing no future because of Israeli occupation, that someone would commit this unthinkable act? What I discovered was exactly the opposite. Palestinians have a much better life under the so-called occupation than most of their brothers in the Arab world.
In other words, it is much better to live in Ramallah or even Gaza than in a Cairo suburb. Freedom and relative wealth are a powerful, but could be destructive, combination, when applied to the Arab world. As we could see during the Arab spring and its outcome, they are not ready for it. Since Arafat’s agenda never changed, namely the replacement of the Jewish state by a Muslim state, he found it easy to use this freedom and wealth to create, from the inside, a fabulous anti-Israel machine, which is still in action today.
Incitement against Israel and anti-Semitism are the core of Palestinian society, at every level. Arabs cannot eat, walk, study, work or even sleep, without being brainwashed. The level of hatred against Israel and the West has never been higher than since the Oslo agreement, and more people died in terror attacks during the second intifada than during the whole history of Israel.
Rehov: Because Palestinian society is violent, children are often abused, and sexual frustration has been organized at the level of the entire civilization. Future suicide killers are the result of this frustration and the promises made for their after-life. I have a hard time convincing whoever attends my lectures, that Islamists actually believe in the promised 72 virgins, and that 70 members of their families will be allowed into heaven thanks to their sacrifice. If you add hatred to frustration, child trauma to permanent brainwashing, you end up with the perfect combination in the making of a human bomb. Especially when it is all promoted by religious clerics, and when suicide bombers, shahids or “martyrs” are upgraded to the role of heroes in a society which denigrates most of our western values. I ended up, in my film, approaching the phenomenon from a Freudian point of view rather than a political, or socio-economical one.
That’s the difference with other documentaries made on the same matter. And I am proud to see “Suicide Killers” as part of many scholar programs, which includes the FBI and the Hertzlyia Counter Terrorism Interdisciplinary center (a class that I myself attended last year).
FP: Pierre Rehov, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview. And thank you for all the incredible and vital work that you do.
We encourage all of our readers to see Pierre’s documentaries, which are now available at Frontpagemag.com. Click here to order them.