January 15, 2009, - 1:36 pm

Disconnect: “Defiance” Director Zwick Not So Defiant Against Islamic Terrorists

By Debbie Schlussel
As I always say, Hollywood loves the dead Jews, but they hate the live ones.
Hollywood loves the Holocaust, but hates Israel. They love to portray Jews as victims of the Nazis, but they hate to portray the Jews as victims of the new Nazis–extremist Muslims around the world, whether it’s the HAMAS terrorists in Gaza or the Muslims who demonstrate on the streets of Fort Lauderdale and openly tell Jews to “go back to the oven.”
And so it goes with Writer/Director Edward Zwick, whose “Defiance” opens in nationwide release tomorrow (Friday).
“Defiance” is a great movie, one of the year’s best. And it’s an important movie, as it shows that Jews were not the stereotypical weaklings who meekly went to the camps to their slaughter. Those who could–with all odds against them and laws preventing them from owning firearms and weapons–did fight back. The Bielski brothers saved hundreds of Jewish lives and killed more than a few Nazis in the process. They are the good guys. And, just as it should be, there is no ambiguity about that in this film.


Not So Defiant: “Defiance” Director Ed Zwick

But Ed Zwick is trapped back in time, or perhaps he is trapped forward in time . . . in a “post-Zionist Hollywood.” He fails to make the connection with Jews under siege in Israel today, with Jews under siege in greater numbers today than at any time since the Holocaust.
On Friday, I interviewed him. I solicited questions from readers (who had some great suggestions–thanks). But I already knew one question I was going to ask. And I had a pretty good idea of the answer he’d provide.
I know Dr. Jay Bielski, son of Zus Bielski, one of the brothers portrayed in this movie (by Liev Schreiber). I noted to Mr. Zwick that while Jay said that this movie captured his father perfectly, Jay–after several years as a U.S. Marine during Vietnam–served in the Israeli Defense Force and fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Right now, Jay’s two sons serve in the IDF. (Zwick is friends with Jay Bielski and says the Bielskis “brought him home” to Judaism and Jewish pride. But I don’t see it.)
I also noted to Zwick that he produced “The Siege,” the 1998 movie which showed an alleged post-9/11-style persecution against “innocent” Muslim-Americans “victims,” which never happened.
I asked him why Hollywood is so anti-Israel and when would he come full circle and make a movie that shows the Jews who are now the victims of the new Nazis in the Middle East, in Israel.
Edward Zwick’s squirming was so loud, I felt like I was watching worms crawl through my phone.
Zwick said he didn’t know of any anti-Israel movies coming out of Hollywood. He said he couldn’t see himself doing a movie about the Jews versus the Islamic terrorists in Israel because,

It’s very difficult to parse morality in what’s going on in the Middle East and especially in the last two weeks. It’s full of moral complexity that I’m not sure I could address in a two-hour movie. What I’m loathe to do is to analogize between this [the Nazis vs. the Bielskis] and the contemporary situation. I didn’t want to have a movie with an agenda.

But when I pointed out that there is clearly an agenda and clearly good guys and bad guys in “Defiance” (not to mention, “The Siege”), he responded with more psychobabble gobbledygookish squirming, that his movie

showed the difference between passivity and powerlessness [and was] a necessary historical redress.

Well, there’s a “necessary historical redress” about what Islamic terrorists are doing against Jews in Israel and throughout the world. Sadly, Zwick either doesn’t get it or won’t admit to it, lest he be out of step with Hollywood’s rigid orthodoxy on the subject.
Oh, and Zwick also said

in the Middle East, you’re not talking about genocide.

When Muslims, especially those of Palestinian terrorist groups, shout how they want to “push the Jews into the sea” and “spill rivers of Jewish blood,” it’s quite clear that it, in fact, is genocide they wish to carry out.
Next week, “Defiance” opens in Israel, and Israeli soldiers will reportedly be shown the movie (perhaps in time for the start of the next failed “truce”).
Let’s hope the Israeli soldiers connect the dots that Edward Zwick–and the rest of Hollywood–won’t.
They are fighting the same Nazis, the same evil the Bielskis fought.
Since I’ve invoked his name, I want to be fair and point out that Jay Bielski disagrees with my take on this. He recommends that people read this New York Times column by Zwick, in which Zwick brags about his grandfather and great-uncles who were bookies for Al Capone’s mob. This is something to be proud of? Yet, he won’t defend Israel.
Jay says that his friend, Zwick, is on the right side of the Israeli-Islamic terrorism issue, but can’t afford to say so, in order to sell this movie. If that’s the case, that’s even worse because it means that you can be “Defiant” against the Nazis, but not Hollywood.

24 Responses

These Libbies are unable to think conceptually; i.e., relate one concrete to a larger principle. In this case it’s the principle of murdering Jews en masse whether done by German Nazis or Islam.
I think in many ways anti-Semitism is worse these days then it was in the 30s. The hatred of Jews today isn’t just vicious — it’s primal (as in primal scream).
I have never seen such pure foam-at-the-mouth hostility over a people trying to defend themselves.
There is no way to reason with these people. Not in Holland, not in Toronto, and not in Ft. Lauderdale (“you Jews need a big oven”).
The only thing Israel can do is to kill and keep killing until the savages quiet down a bit.
Oid Kahane Chai (Rabbi Kahane Lives)

Underzog on January 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

You can’t defy the anti-Israel mood that has swept through the West’s “enlightened” circles like a hurricane. It takes incredible courage to stand up for the right of Jews to defend themselves from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas – today’s Nazis. Its so easy to patronize dead Jews as victims – which is how the Left sees them. Live Jews killing Arabs who want to slaughter Jews – watch how fast all the lovers of peace and all the bleeding hearts run for the exits, when they’re not condemning Israel for using force instead of doing what would get their sympathy – playing the role of the dead victim. I think NEVER AGAIN means been there and done that and its time to stop apologizing for doing whatever it takes to stay alive. “Defiance” may be a good movie but its director is clueless about the fact the mortal threat to the Jewish people didn’t disappear with the defeat of the Nazis. Evil always appears in a new guise in every generation. The Haggadah reading reminds Jews vows to annihilate them didn’t cease when they came out of Egypt. And so it goes on – generation after generation. There is nothing new under the sun.

NormanF on January 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm

You don’t think it might be because WWII had more moral clarity than any other conflict in human history?

greenlynn on January 15, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I dunno…what part of child raping, little girl face acid throwing, freely women raping, stoning, christian convert killing philosophy do you agree with, greenlyn? The ethics are clear to me.

    Occam's Tool on February 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Do you prefer to be toothless or blind?

greenlynn on January 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

“Jay says that his friend, Zwick, is on the right side of the Israeli-Islamic terrorism issue, but can’t afford to say so, in order to sell this movie…”
Posted by Debbie at January 15, 2009 01:36 PM
As I wrote previously, Hollywood is mostly about money, not ideology.
But I’m afraid you didn’t ask him the question I posted in my comment, which I would like to know the answer:
“Why do the Jews in Hollywood love portraying the bravery of Jews fighting tyranny 65 years ago, but can’t bring themselves to show the bravery of Jews fighting it in Israel today (and instead villainize them)?”
Posted by Debbie at January 9, 2009 01:09 PM
The answer is:
There are no Jews in Hollywood.
There are money seekers.
Movies that praise these days Jews don’t sell.
It’s not mainly a matter of ideology, it’s a matter of marketing.
You can’t sell “Jews movies” in the Arab world or even in some parts of Europe and Asia.
Have a Jew character changing his name to “Hussein Obama” and you can be like a Prophet in the lands of Muhammad.
My only question would be:
Why Hollywood Jews make movies that give a “dirty” image about America in the Muslim world, if they really care about marketing their movies over there?
And by “dirty” I mean: sex, drugs and violence, but especially sex.
On one hand, they like to side with the Muslims against Israel, yet on the other hand they make the Muslims hate them and consequently hate America.
Indeed, they are truly called “the Hollywood Idiots.”
Posted by: Independent Conservative at January 9, 2009 02:59 PM

Independent Conservative on January 15, 2009 at 3:07 pm

You’re right, Independent. People like Greenlyn here are like the Hollywood idiots. Let’s recall the Left during World War II was pacifist until the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union. Then they suddenly found the war “moral.” They never insisted the U.S enter to save Jews from being massacred, just as they’re not rallying by Israel’s side today when it is trying to eliminate a terrorist movement bent upon its destruction. They won’t make a pro-Israel movie today because showing armed and tough Israeli soldiers doesn’t comport at all with the world’s image of Jews. There is no reason to care what it thinks but to do the right thing. And Israel’s war in Gaza is by every standard, completely justified.

NormanF on January 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm

This assertion that someone can’t say what they believe because they won’t be able to sell: movies, books, toothpaste, etc. etc. is one of the biggest copouts of all time. It is just a rationalization.
If someone holds their beliefs seriously, they will try to get an occupation that will not constrain them from saying what they think; for instance, they could become an online blogger, and then they can say what they think, if they are really serious about their ideas.
The assertion about being’brought home’ to Judaism is so much hogwash. Like the postmodern people that they are, they define Judaism however they want, and lift whatever aspects of it suit their purpose, or perhaps for Zwick, his PR persona.
Naturally it is good PR for his movie to have an image of adherence to Judaism. Maybe he eats lox & bagels every Sunday morning — form over substance, or has a Freedom Seder every spring, more form over substance. But since society as a whole is based on form over substance these days, he will probably be successful in achieving his ends.

c f on January 15, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Excellent summation, Deb: You can be “defiant” against the Nazis, but not against Hollywood. Makes me disgustipated.

Yiddish Steel on January 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Sad, but in order to succeed in Hollywood you have to be a certain way in order to get work, and after a while you begin to beleive it, because it is so pervasive.

mindy1 on January 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Too bad that Edward Zwick is a total cop-out. He made a movie about courage but cannot be courageous against something so wrong and evil now in the world?

Bobby's Brain on January 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm

You can defy the Nazis but not the Hollywood Left. The Nazis can’t hurt you anymore and the Hollywood Left can. I’d love to hear his take on the torture murders at Chabad House in Mumbai – maybe he could explain all the grey areas, the moral complexities….

poetcomic1 on January 15, 2009 at 4:51 pm

greenlyn…you say “You don’t think it might be because WWII had more moral clarity than any other conflict in human history?”
In fact, there were many people in the late 1930s and even the early 1940s who were arguing that the situation needed to be looked at with “nuance” and in terms of “shades of gray,” just as they do regarding today’s wars against terrorists. See this post for the views of some “progressive” religious leaders of the time:
See also “appeasement, then and now”:
and “moral idiocy was not invented yesterday:

photoncourier.blogspot.com on January 15, 2009 at 5:11 pm

A week ago, Zwick was interviewed by the BBC World Service (The Strand). The host praised Defiance but saved the “gotcha” for the end when he attempted to equate the Bielsky partisan resistance with the “Gazan resistance”. Not unpredictaly, Zwick not only agreed with the host but went him one better by calling the perverse comparison “ironic”. He must have been standing next to Spielberg and Tony Kushner at the urinal when he was trying to bankroll his film. Remember that in “Siege”, the only villain is the American general played by Bruce Willis. Having got wind of the film’s plot, a number of Arab American groups pressured Zwick and Lawrence Wright (a stealth apologist in his own right), the screenwriter, into altering the plot to indict Hollywood’s perennial villain, the US military – in the person of Willis. And they quickly truckled. A film that started out as prescient of 9/11 slimed its way into the realm of the blind and vertebraeless. Zwick is sliming to this day.

mushrik1 on January 15, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Debbie, I often get a bit jealous/pissy when you praise other reader’s comments, like you’re two timing me. I would feel better if you only kvelled over my comments.

Anonymous1 on January 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm

None of the responses to my comment deals with the issue of the “moral clarity” that Hollywood (and history) see in World War II versus present day conflicts.
Not only are present day conflict morally ambiguous, most all armed conflicts are.
Take for example, the American Civil War. Sure, the South was fighting, at least on one level, to preserve the institution of slavery. But we have a hard time saying that Robert E. Lee was evil and that William Tecumseh Sherman was righteous in persuing victory.
With World War II, despite what may or may not have been said prior to the conflict, we say with certainty that Hitler was bad and Eisenhower was good.
The problem with the Middle East is that both sides believe they have absolute moral authority to back their strategies. Therefore, all their means are justified by their ends.
When that happens, tragedy is the only result.

greenlynn on January 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

” . . . his friend, Zwick, is on the right side of the Israeli-Islamic terrorism issue, but can’t afford to say so, in order to sell this movie.”
Pure cowardice — the movie will sell itself, Ed! Screw the morally-equivalent morons in Hollyweird; tell ’em to kiss your [behind]!

theendisnear on January 15, 2009 at 11:09 pm

In the 7th grade i almost killed a jewboy, ACCIDENTALLY—and one of my homies, a bully…got his ass whupped by that jewboy’s brother:)
ME and Ira C got into a bullshit fight over nonsense and i hit him dead in the chest NOT knowing that he had open-heart surgery as a chile—but HE didn’t punk.
My homey, now a minister, PICKED on Ira’s brother…and got his ass whupped because HE didn’t back down either.
i know a lot of punkass jewboys…but MOST of the Jews i grew up with could ROCK with the best

EminemsRevenge on January 15, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Really, the movie ‘Siege’ told me all I needed to know about Zwick.

Infidel Pride on January 16, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Hollywood prefers dead Jews (making films about them) to live ones (targets of disparagement, ordnance, etc.) because the former are props used for its self-promotion.
The moviemaker is taking credit for the virtue of the characters in “his” film: he expects the glory to go to him, not to them.

Cogito Ergo Sum on January 16, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Watch my 1-min video interview with Ed Zwick on his motivations behind “Defiance”

DemoCast on January 17, 2009 at 12:20 am

It’s hardly surprising about Zwick’s political mindset; he’s a Baby Boomer,and still stuck in many ways in the ’60s & ’70s, and,with longtime co-creator Marshall Herzkovitz was the creator of the execrable “thirtysomething”,the equally execrable “My So-Called Life”,the somewhat good,but extremely preachy Civil War/race movie “Glory”, and tried another Dramedy this previos season, but that thankfully flopped. And he hasn’t changed abit.

OldSchoolW on January 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

RE : Moral clarity of WW II
The USA propped up the world’s greatest murderer
( Stalin ) in order to defeat the world’s 3rd greatest murderer (Hitler ). ( Mao Tse Tung is No.2 ) Then the Allies proceeded to fire bomb whole cities ( men, women, children, babies ) because bombing was not accurate enough to hit
just military or industrial targets.
Some food for thought.

Hawkins on January 17, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I grew up after the War with Zus and Tuvia. Defiance captures the impulsiveness of Zus and the wisdom of Tuvia. None of the Bielskis were petty criminals prior to the War, that was made up as an explanation why they had, and still propagate via their children and grandchildren, aggressive skills. The reality was that they lived in a small village and had a mill which converted wheat and other products into cooking fares (breads). Growing up they had to defend themselves and their business from the locals. They were always a family team,9 brothers and 2 sisters, and also had many non Jewish friends. They developed a reputation before the War that “you shouldn’t mess with the Bielskis because you are sure to lose” a quote by Aron Bell Bielski. As the environment grew more hostile against Jews and the Bielskis in particular, the antie was raised and so was their response to it, ruthlessness and compassion. The Defiance movie did not show Bielskis’ enemies’ heads being axed (Jerusalem in the Woods, The History Channel 11/06) . The Bielski Enemas in which enemies’ behinds were cleaned by grenades as each Nazi watched his fellows get blown up knowing that he will be next. “It was very smelly” said Shula Rubin in The Bielski Partisans a documentary by Kumar 1996. Many unmentionable acts were done without remorse by the Bielski Otriad (excluding the fallacy of Naliboki). Remember what would you do if they killed your mother and father, your brothers, your wife and daughter?
Zus never considered his reverge disproportionate nor did he consider Israel’s responses to killing Israelis ever disproportionate. He told me many times, THEY, will only understand the stick. The THEY change over time in the Jewish experience, was our response to Egyptian slavery disproportionate, after all many died of the plagues and and sea?
I think that whether by choice or coincidence Mr. Zwick prioritized Tuvia as the Moses figure and Zus as David, of Goliath fame. This inadventently (?)points to disproportionate responses are necessary to maintain Jewish life.
As for Debbie, Zus would have loved you.
Posted by: I am Bielski

bellskee on February 6, 2009 at 9:36 am

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