A group of bereaved parents who have lost children to Palestinian suicide bombings have gathered 32,000 signatures asking the Academy to disqualify Paradise Now from consideration for the Best Film in a Foreign Language Oscar. The controversial film, about two friends from the West Bank recruited to be suicide bombers, explores the mentality behind people choosing to blow themselves and others up in the name of politics and religion. Many Israelis feel the film glorifies terrorists, and the film has been banned throughout Israel. The film was a collaborative effort by a team including a Jewish Israeli, an Israeli Arab, and a Palestinian cast and crew.
I don't think the Academy is going to bow on this and pull the film - for a nominated film to be withdrawn is just unheard of - nor do I think they should. I sympathize with the Israeli parents; losing a child under any circumstance is a terrible thing. However, part of the point of movies like Paradise Now is to explore both sides of a story. There isn't just an Israeli side to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; as in any other conflict in life, it takes two to tango. If we are to ever hope to truly see peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, we have to understand the motivations and emotions that drive ordinary people to strap explosives to their bodies and blow up themselves and innocent people. If there is room for a film like Munich, which is about the Israeli response to the terrible terrorist attack at the Munich 1972 Olympics, when terrorists killed members of the Israeli Olympic team, there must also be room for films like Paradise Now, which explore the factors that drive such acts (to be fair, there has been Israeli protest over Munich as well).