No Mideast peace dividend from ‘World War Z’: Arabs rejecting imaginary reconciliation with Israel

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Imagine Israelis and Palestinians living life in peace. 

It isn’t hard to do.

Except maybe in the Arab world. There, even imaginary rapprochement with the Jewish state can be taboo, judging from Arab reaction to “World War Z,” Brad Pitt’s zombie apocalypse tale which has defied industry expectations and become a hit.

On its way toward half a billion dollars in worldwide grosses, WWZ depicts Israelis and Palestinians in joyful reconciliation — safe behind a seemingly impregnable wall erected around Jerusalem’s Old City by a resourceful Israel whose contingency planning has enabled it to emerge as one of only two nations to survive the zombie pandemic ravaging the globe.

But any hopes that the imaginary prospect of Arabs and Israelis allied onscreen in struggle against a common foe might spread some real-world goodwill in the region would seem to be quixotic.

Such a vision has sparked outrage in the real Arab world, where bloggers and moviegoers have slammed the film as a love song to Israel,” reports Aron Heller from Jerusalem for the Associated Press.

“In Lebanon, it is showing in theaters, but some of the Israel scenes have been censored or edited out,” writes Mr. Heller. 

“It’s free propaganda for Israel at a time when it occupies other people,” Ramzi Taweel, a 38-year-old Palestinian cartoonist from Ramallah in the West Bank, told the AP. “It portrays Israel as a moral power that protects human beings. It justifies the wall. … The Israeli occupation army in the movie is a humane army that protects the world.”

In the Gulf, where the film is in wide release, the reception has been little better.

“I don’t think it was trying to justify Israel’s occupation, but it was glorifying the Israelis by emphasizing peace and harmony of the two nations, which is far from the truth,” Aleena Khan told the Dubai-based Gulf News. “It was a very rose-tinted version of what the relationship between the Israelis and Palestinians actually is.”

So now we know. Where does the desirability of peace with Israel rank in the Arab world? Somewhere below “zombie invasion.”

 

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