Yossi Zur, whose 16-year-son Asaf was killed by
a suicide bomber, was outraged to find out that the Palestinian
movie "Paradise Now" was nominated for an Academy Award. The awards
ceremony is scheduled for March 5 - three years to the day that his
son was murdered. The following commentary, authored by Zur,
petition calling for the Academy to revoke the Oscar
nomination. The petition contains more than 24,000 signatures.
An Award for Terror
By Yossi Zur
son Asaf was almost 17 years old when he was murdered in a suicide
bomb attack in Israel on March 5, 2003. This year, on precisely the
third anniversary of his death, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences may grant an Oscar to the very dangerous movie
The film, nominated for best foreign language film of the year,
follows the path of two young Palestinians from their decision to
become suicide bombers to the moment one of them boards a crowded
Tel Aviv bus.
"Paradise Now" is a very professional production, created with great
care for detail. It is also an extremely harmful piece of work, not
only for Israel and the Middle East, but the whole world.
My son Asaf was an eleventh-grader studying computer sciences, when
one day after school he boarded a bus in Israel to return home. On
the way, a suicide bomber from Hebron, 21 years old and himself a
computer sciences student in the Hebron Polytechnic, also boarded
the bus and blew himself up. Of the 17 people killed, nine were
schoolchildren aged 18 or younger. Asaf was killed on the spot.
I went to see "Paradise Now" to try to understand what message it
was trying to convey. Was it that the murderer is human and is as
deserving of sympathy as his victims? He is not. Was it that he has
doubts? He has none. After all, he is so sure of his mission that he
is willing to kill himself along with his human targets.
Or maybe, I wondered, the film was trying to give the message that
it is the Israelis who are to blame for this horrific act, for the
phenomenon of suicide bombing. In that case, are the Israelis also
to blame for the similar terrorist attacks on New York City's World
Trade Center, the Bali nightclub, the Amman hotels, the shop in
Turkey, the restaurant in Morocco, the underground stations in
London, the trains in Spain and so many others?
What exactly makes "Paradise Now" worthy of such a prestigious
nomination? At a time when Hamas, a terrorist organization devoted
to the destruction of Israel, has won a landslide victory in the
Palestinian legislative elections, and Iran’s president has stated
his desire to "wipe Israel off the map," what sort of message would
an Academy Award triumph send to more than 1 billion viewers around
Would the entertainment writers who chose to honor this movie have
given the same accolades if the film had been about the young men
from Saudi Arabia who moved to the U.S., took flying lessons and
then underwent Islamic ritual preparations for their holy mission to
crash airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? Would they
have dared to nominate a version of "Paradise Now" for a similar
This movie attempts to deliver the message that suicide bombings are
a legitimate tactic for those who feel they've exhausted all other
means of resistance. But a suicide-murderer who boards a bus and
snuffs out the lives of 15 or 20 innocent people, or who walks into
a city carrying a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon and kills
10,000, or even 100,000 people, is that still a legitimate tactic?
Where does one draw the line?
The world should draw the line at one person. My son was almost 17;
he loved surfing, he loved pop music. He is now gone because a
suicide bomber decided that blowing himself up on a crowded bus
filled with children was somehow a legitimate act.
Awarding an Oscar to a movie such as "Paradise Now" would only
implicate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the
evil chain of terror that attempts to justify these horrific acts,
whether the number of victims is 17 or 17,000.