Yariv Horowitz
Yariv Horowitz with his award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Photo by courtesy
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Israeli director Yariv Horowitz was attacked and beaten unconscious on a Marseilles street on Thursday immediately after the screening of his award-winning movie "Rock the Casbah" at a film festival in Aubagne.

His assailants were inebriated Arab youths, Horowitz said, some of whom apparently saw his film before the attack.

After the screening he was walking down the street with Israeli musician Assaf Amdursky, who wrote the music for the film. “A group of youths came toward us,” Horowitz described the attack. “They started shouting ‘F—k you’ at us in an Arab accent. Assaf told me to ignore it, but I finally shouted ‘F—k you, too’ back at them. Then they jumped me. They knocked me down, kicked me, and I passed out from a hit I took in the head. It was clear that they were Arabs and that they were drunk.”

On Friday, at a party given as part of the festival, a driver working for the festival organization approached him and told him that his daughter had told him about the attack, Horowitz said.

“He’s an Arab, and he told me that his daughter’s friends had sent text messages about the attack the evening before. He said that at least one or two of the attackers had been at the screening of my film at the festival before then, and had seen me get up on stage there.”

“Rock the Casbah,” which won the jury’s special prize at the Aubagne International Film Festival, tells the story of an Israeli army unit serving in Gaza during the first intifada. After one of its soldiers is killed by a washing machine tossed off a roof at him, his comrades are ordered to surveille the area from the roof of another residential building, to try to find the perpetrators. Their stay on that roof brings the conflict between the soldiers and the Palestinian residents to a peak and makes the soldiers face severe ethical dilemmas.

After the incident, Horowitz feels hesitant about traveling to Paris next week for a screening at an Israeli film festival there. “I know that by the time I get there, the whole story will explode in the media and I’m afraid that as a result, hotheads there could get up and explode at me," he said. "Yes, it is possible that the attack wasn’t motivated by nationalism, but I really don’t know where all this could lead. The absurd thing, of course, is that my film is the most pro-peace it could be. I fell into a situation that was completely bizarre.”