The Zionist Conspiracy
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Death in Gaza
In a column in this week's Jewish Press, Phyllis Chesler writes:
On August 12, 2004, HBO will be airing James Miller`s BBC/Channel 4 film, "Death in Gaza" (in Arabic and Hebrew), in which he interviewed Palestinian children only. Presumably, Miller was going to interview Israeli children too but he never did. Miller's widow, Sophy, has gone on record accusing the Israelis of purposely killing him on his last day of filming in Gaza; if this was indeed his last day then perhaps Miller did not plan to interview any Israeli children after all.
After his death, Miller`s wife and colleagues finished the film for him, and began a campaign seeking "Justice for James Miller." The film has been aired at many film festivals to rave reviews. The fact that the script was written by acclaimed journalist Saira Shah, with whom Miller worked on "Beneath the Veil," which was broadcast by CNN, ensures a devoted and vocal following. Shah, who is the English-born daughter of an Afghan father, is the author of The Storyteller's Daughter, a beautifully-written book about her search for her Afghan roots.
Later in the column, Ms. Chesler compares 'Death in Gaza' to anti-Israel documentaries. I don't understand those comparisons or her criticisms. First, Miller had planned a documentary about Palestinian children and Israeli children. Sadly, during the first portion of production, while filming in Gaza, Miller was killed during a battle in Rafah. That seems to me to be a fairly good excuse for why the documentary never got around to covering Israelis.
As for Chesler's reference to Miller's widow saying that her husband was killed "on his last day of filming in Gaza," it is not clear whether Ms. Miller meant that it was his last day in Gaza because it was the day he died, or because he was set to finish filming and was about to leave Gaza. If the latter, Chesler's assumption that "if this was indeed his last day then perhaps Miller did not plan to interview any Israeli children after all" makes little sense. After all, it is possible that Miller was going to document the lives of Israeli children outside of Gaza. Another possibility, mentioned in an article I read, suggests that Miller died on what was to be the last day of filming on a particular trip, not of the entire documentary.
As for 'Death in Gaza' itself, I've heard that it paints a fairly balanced picture, that it documents the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza along with the Palestinians' incredible hatred toward Israel, as well as terrorists' exploitation of children as human shields. What I've heard may or may not be accurate, and it may be that the film is terribly anti-Israel. If that's the case, however, it would serve all of us well to wait for the film to appear on HBO tomorrow night, rather than attack it before having seen it.
Finally, Chesler alludes to Miller's family members' efforts to obtain "Justice for James Miller." While inevitably Israel's enemies will try to exploit Miller's death for their own political benefit, it should be mentioned that the Miller family has distinguished its efforts from those on behalf of Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie, each of whom was working on behalf of the Palestinian led International Solidarity Movement. And while the Miller family was been bitterly critical of (in their view) Israel's failure to complete a full investigation, to my knowledge, it has not accused Israel of intentionally murdering Miller.