How could a populace that rates Ari Folman’s Oscar-nominated “Waltz With Bashir” the third best Israeli film of all time have voted to make the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party the nation’s third-largest faction? That is the question posed by writer and Israeli army veteran Liel Leibovitz in an essay published on The Nation’s Web site. Leibovitz suggests that, in the minds of many Israelis, waging war and making thought-provoking movies about waging war somehow balance each other out. He writes:
[F]or the most part, Israelis have become adept at using art as a mantle, a colorful cloth under which they can hide from the harrowing implications of the policies they support.
… As I stepped out of the cinema [after seeing “Waltz With Bashir”] … I muttered a silent rant, to no one in particular. Let them wage war, I thought. And let them make movies. But let them never pretend that the two have anything in common, or originate from a common mental space that is fundamentally just and contemplative and resorts to arms only when inevitable.
Israel of today is not Ari Folman’s. It is Avigdor Lieberman’s and Benjamin Netanyahu’s, the country of the countless men and women crying out for revenge. As we root for “Waltz with Bashir,” if we want to truly honor that film’s message, let us never forget that. Otherwise, all we have is just a pretty animated film.