Opinion

‘Our Boys’ Is Good PR for Israel

Hussein and Suha Abu Khdeir, whose son's murder is the subject of the HBO series "Our Boys", watch the show's first two episodes in their East Jerusalem home August 18, 2019.
\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

The main thing is that we came out looking good from the TV series “Our Boys.” Everyone came out looking good. The prosecution, the court, the Shin Bet security service and mainly us. The prosecution was determined, the court was reasonable, and the Shin Bet was merciful. After all, we aren’t involved and the series is not about us. We’re familiar with the story of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir from television, and as bystanders we found that it is very well made, really. An excellent series.

We came out looking good when it comes to the murderers too. What do we have to do with them, they aren’t like us. They look different, dress differently and speak differently. Who knew before the series that there’s an expression “nidon al shem sofo” (one’s act will be judged on its future outcome)? Who knew that it’s a kind of permission for murder?

We came out looking good, our conscience is clear. The Shin Bet too, look how good they look. Without torture, without suspects in the hospital “after the interrogation” and without any hostage who was murdered after being captured. On the contrary, if you have to fall into someone’s hands I recommend the doleful Simon from the Shin Bet, who “is only doing his job,” rather than Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich; go know what God tells him to do.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the series “anti-Semitic.” That’s understandable. “Anti-Semitism” has a special meaning for him. An anti-Semite is anyone who makes him angry, an anti-Semite is anyone who opposes his policy. And his policy is that “the Arabs” are the enemy, and you don’t talk to an enemy, and you certainly don’t make a TV series about him that is full of understanding and sensitivity.

One doesn’t make sensitive series about an enemy. An enemy doesn’t suffer, he causes suffering. An enemy doesn’t have faces, or names, or homes. His emotions differ from ours, because if he is angry and in pain like us how can we kill him? How can we blow up his home? The fear is that we’ll even start to understand him.

It’s not healthy to understand an enemy, but it’s good to have one around. Bibi didn’t invent the permanent enemy whose identity changes. George Orwell preceded him. In “1984” Eurasia and Eastasia swapped places – here the turnover is more lively. Once it’s Hamas and once Hezbollah, once the left and once Iran. Our enemies change but “the Arabs” remain.

We were taught that they’re inferior. We boycott their representatives, we don’t learn their language and don’t let our children meet theirs. “The Boys” undermines the effort to show the Arabs as a faceless enemy. It brings us into their living room and their bedroom. It proves to us that we are no different from them, and certainly not superior to them.

The creators of the series are guilty of comparing Arab bereavement to Jewish bereavement. After all, there’s no such expression as “a bereaved Arab family.” Terror, like loss, like the Holocaust, is ours alone. A terror attack and its victims are the holy of holies. Only we are allowed to enter it, we’re not familiar with the term “a bereaved Arab family.”

The bereavement in “Our Boys” is universal. Innocent people pay a heavy personal price due to a political situation that they were thrown into. Murder is also universal, it could have happened anywhere.

I’m not complaining about the universal aspect. The creators don’t owe anything to anyone, not to the left, not to the right, not to “hasbara,” not to the “occupation” and not even to the facts. Their only obligation is to their artistic conscience, which somehow led them to create a series that presents us as a society that also recognizes the bereavement of an enemy, to quiet our conscience and for the glory of the State of Israel.

If I were Bibi, I would distribute “Our Boys” all over the world. Let the world see how good we are. We’re so good that we’re not ashamed to show it our weaknesses, and we even emerge from our weaknesses looking good. It’s not our fault that three stupid, borderline insane people, kidnapped, murdered and burned. We actually did the right thing.