Regarding the Pain of Others

by CAP (05.22.10 09:23 am)

I was present when Sontag presented Promised Lands in London in 1975, at the University College cinema. The place was packed with the local Jewry before cineastes or Sontag fans, and the response was so overwhelmingly hostile, defenders (including myself) had to form a cordon around the director on stage, to protect her, as the end-of-screening Q&A degenerated into an hysterical shouting match. The film also included key Israeli trade union figures, arguing against the nature of the Israeli state, but because the film did go right to those basic questions – local supporters of Israel were having none of it. I was amazed, but the director was, at least on the surface, not too ruffled. Clearly she had more experience of Zionist bigotry than I.

For the record, Israeli colleagues, who were also present, found the locals’ reaction incomprehensible.