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September 22, 2009

MacArthur Grant Goes to Anti-Israel Film-Maker

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MacArthur Genius Grants are among the world's most lucrative gifts awarded to intellectuals and artists. Each recipient receives a half million dollars to spend as they see fit. Among the 24 awardees this year is James Longley, producer of "Gaza Strip," a film enthusiastically promoted by the anti-Israel crowd. The film was given a highly favorable review by Hamas-sympathizing Electronic Intifada.

In the Electronic Intifada review of Longley's film, he is quoted as alleging that Israel used nerve gas against Palestinians. "It was strange to me," says Longley, "that this particular incident never made it out into the mainstream media, especially in the US." Over the years, there have been occasional claims that Israel has used various secret horrible weapons in Gaza. None of these claims has ever held up under scrutiny. But that doesn't stop the conspiracy theory fringe from promoting them. Longley appears to be of that fringe.

Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic sums it up concisely in a piece discussing the film and the grant. Evaluating a statement about Gaza on Longley's website "Most people living in the Gaza Strip have never known a single day of real freedom." Goldberg writes,

This is partially true, though Gaza knew no freedom when it was occupied by the Egyptian military until 1967. And of course, "real freedom" is not a prevailing condition in most of the Arab Middle East. But Longley is not interested in the complications of life in the Arab world, or in Israel, and God knows, he could make honest films that still expose various Israeli sins. But he doesn't seem to be someone who closely adheres to the truth. He seems mainly interested, in the Middle East context, in libeling Israel. Which, of course, is good for business, as we see this week.

Posted by SS at September 22, 2009 11:01 AM

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