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Opinion JV Editorial “Act of Valor”: an Act of Bigotry?

“Act of Valor”: an Act of Bigotry?

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 A motion picture featuring active duty Navy Seals...also, anti-Semitism.Like many of my friends and colleagues, this editor was looking forward to seeing the new movie “Act of Valor,” staring real, honest-to-G-d, active-duty U.S. Navy Seals. Granted, there was the chance the whole thing might be a dud, but how could we miss what might turn out to be our generation’s “Top Gun”? With that thought in mind I, my wife, and friend of ours met up in the City to catch a showing of the movie that, for better or for worse, was sure to be the topic of much water-cooler chitchat later on.

As expected, the action sequences were all kinds of awesome, and the script was, well, let’s put it this way… One of the key selling points of this two-hour-long Navy commercial is that it stars active-duty Navy Seals in lieu of real actors. We didn’t realize that they decided not to use real writers either. Allow me to explain what I’m getting at: Of the movie’s two main villains, one finances an attempted terrorist operation on U.S. soil, providing suicide bomber vests (like the ones used by Palestinian terrorists, only more technologically sophisticated) and other tactical support. Did we mention he’s Jewish? Oh, and that his name is “Christo.” So obviously the writer’s knowledge of Jewish names is at least as pathetic as his understanding of the Jewish Zeitgeist.

Let’s be clear: Making one of the main antagonists Russian Jew is in no way crucial to the plot. It adds nothing, other than needless confusion, to the story line. On Ricochet.com, a blogger going by the screen name “ctlaw” describes it more succinctly than I ever could: “The scene introducing [Christo] shows him as a hook-nosed, snaggle-toothed, import from a Goebbels poster speaking with a New York Jewish accent.”  When the villain’s Jewishness is finally brought up in dialogue, we are given is a vague explanation of how Christo and Abu Shamal (the other bad guy) were childhood friends, making things even more confusing. And although Christo the Jew (Seriously? They couldn’t come up with a more believable name?) doesn’t share Abu Shamal’s Islamic beliefs, he finds in Shamal a yin to his yang (or is it a yang to his yin?) – Basically they both hate America, so they both contribute, each in his own way, to her downfall.

There are several instances in the movie that make reference, directly or indirectly, to Abu Shamal’s embrace of Islam, calling it into question. And, as the aforementioned blogger so helpfully points out, since this yin-yang thing between the two villains goes back to childhood, it must be Christos’ evil Jewy-ness, and not Abu Shamal’s Islamic fanaticism, that is the driving force behind the terrorism. Which sounds like something you’re more likely to see spray painted on the side of a synagogue than in the script of a major Hollywood blockbuster.

In certain respects, I found “Act of Valor” to be reminiscent of the big-budget Turkish movie “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq.” For those of you not into Turkish cinema, suffice it to say that it was an adaptation of a popular Turkish TV series “Kurtlar Vadisi,” which is basically the Turkish equivalent of “The Sopranos.” Of course, in the Turkish movie, the U.S. military are the bad guys. But the primary villains are a fundamentalist Christian U.S. army officer, and his evil henchman, a Jewish Army doctor who has Iraqi civilians murdered, then harvests their organs, selling them to wealthy clients in places like New York, and London...and Tel Aviv. Incidentally, the Jewish doctor, taken straight out of a 14th Century blood libel, was played by none other than America’s own Gary Busey (because I guess Mel Gibson wasn’t available). But I digress. My point is, I expect this kind of nonsense in a country where anti-Semitism is socially acceptable, and hatred for America is commonplace. But in a Hollywood movie?

How about a contrasting example? “The Delta Force,” arguably one of the greatest motion pictures ever made (of course, I say that about anything starring Chuck Norris). This is what “Act of Valor” should have been, only with better special effects, and fewer roundhouse kicks. “The Delta Force” had Jews too. They were hostages. But at least the movie accurately portrayed which side the Jews are on!

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S...sorry, got distracted there for a moment.

Okay how about this? If you’re going to base your Jewish character(s) on stereotypes, why not go positive? Tom Clancy is a good example of this. Personally, I’ve read just about every novel Tom Clancy has ever written, though not the ghost-written dreck that publishers keep slapping his name onto (and there is a lot of that). The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games...the man is the master of the political/military thriller, so it’s no surprise that a lot of those books were made into movies (many of them starring my favorite technically-Jewish actor, Harrison Ford). And believe it or not, a lot of Clancy’s books feature Jewish characters. And they’re usually pretty stereotypical. A skilled Jewish doctor who serves as an inspirational mentor for one of the main characters, or who performs life-saving surgery on the hero. A cunning Jewish diplomat who stalls for time so that the hero can get his plan into action. Or, in the case of Rainbow Six, they’ll actually put an Israeli on the multi-national special ops team. Even though I think he runs the radio, or some other highly technical, non-macho gig, it’s nice to even be made a part of the team, instead of a pariah. I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Mr. Clancy is some kind of closet philo-Semite.


On a personal note, I actually have a brother in the service. He’s a corspman (that’s Navy speak for medic), and spent more than one tour in Iraq evacuating injured Marines from combat zones. This fact has come up in conversation around more than one Shabbos table. And do you know what the black-hatted, ultra-orthodox Jews usually say to me? They say “tell him we say ‘thank you,’ ” or “G-d bless you,” or some variation on that theme.

Jews in America know full well who (by the grace of G-d) protects their freedoms, and the attitude I’ve observed (granted, more prevalently among religious types than among left-wingers) is overwhelmingly one of hakaras hatov, of gratitude, appreciation, and respect.

The truth about Jewish attitudes toward America, its military, Islamism, and terrorism, makes the anti-Semitic element of “Act of Valor” all the more baffling, and extremely offensive. Please, don’t waste your time, or your money on this nonsense. And if this movie release has gotten you all riled up, and you absolutely must watch American commandos blow up some terrorist scumbags, go rent “The Delta Force.” Did I mention it has Chuck Norris?

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 March 2012 22:33 )  

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