Claude Lanzmann's Address ...
... to "Kritikmaximierung" on 13th December 2009 in Hamburg:
Dear friends of Kritikmaximierung,
The best way to express you my solidarity and my gratitude should be to sit among you today. Unfortunately, I am at the moment very far from Europe and it was impossible to change my schedule. I have no other choice than to send you some brotherly words. What strikes me the most in this whole “affaire” is the contrast between the brutality, the stupidity of the people who attacked you and forbade the screening of “Warum Israël” and the very nature of my film, which is a subtle, delicate, and intelligent work, by no means a sionist propaganda manicheistic one. Obviously, the agressors never saw “Warum Israël” and are in any way unable to see it. It is easier to call it a “Kriegs-und-Rassismusverherrlichung” film. One of the main meanings of the film is the discovery, through the eyes of a french diaspora Jew, of a country where everybody is jewish. In this respect, the “normality” of Israël is the “abnormality” as such. And this generates very funny scenes.
Of course, there are many other significations, for instance the nostalgy of Europe, expressed deeply by the german Jew Gert Granach, when he sings beautiful and moving spartakist songs. This film, shot in 1972, never hides the problems, the difficulties, the contradictions of this small and fascinating country, never cheats with the truth. It is true indeed that “Warum Israël” shows a real empathy for Israel, but empathy, as we all know, is the beginning of any understanding. Yes, Arabs don’t speak in the film, one sees them and they are the main thema in the discussions between the Israeli protagonists. I decided so for moral reasons: I could not talk for the Arabs, they should make their own films. What is the most schocking in the attack is the insults, which all belong to the nazi vocabulary (Judenschwein, Schwuchteln) and express the endless perversity of the exchange of roles today, best proof too that there is no antisionisme without antisemitism.
I thank all of you deeply for your courage and firm democratic stand. I am sure that your screening today will be a great success.
Your friend, Claude Lanzmann