HANANIA: Bonus Column: Iraq war movies slam moral stomach. For Release Tues. Sep. 4, 2007

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New films will bring horror of Iraq murders to American screens

By Ray HananiaWell, we all knew from the beginning that a president who dodged active military service during the Vietnam War had gotten us entangled in a new Vietnam War. Instead of lying about Iraq, all President Bush had to do was admit that he couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Vietnam because when called to serve in Vietnam he hid out in the reserves, thanks to “daddy’s clout,” a special draft classification reserved for the children of the “fortunate few.”The signs are all there, including the enormous and continuing-to-rise death tolls of civilians and American soldiers in Iraq. The fast-paced loss of public support for the war. And, not to be forgotten or minimized, is the important role that exposing all the lies the Bush White House used to bamboozle the American people into the war. They lied about Vietnam, too, to get us in that war. It’s the “American way” apparently.

Still, if there was any doubt about the similarities between this losing war in Iraq and the last losing war in Vietnam, the last chapter is closing with the announcement that several major directors and studios are planning movies on the war.

Not the kind of John Wayne, rah-rah, patriotism-driven movies intended to keep the blind “blind,” like the most famous of propaganda movies, “The Green Berets.”

No. These movies are going to hit the American people so hard in the moral stomach we are going to lose our breaths and it’s going to hurt. Bad.

One film that promises to be painful and tell the story of American war crimes in Iraq has just opened for screening this week at two major film festivals at Venice and Telluride.

It’s called, appropriately, “Redacted,” by one of the world’s greatest directors, Brian De Palma, who also directed “Casualties of War” in 1989, which detailed the more fictionalized tale of the American military’s abuse of civilian in Vietnam.

“Redacted” is about a real story, though. And it is the first of eight planned Iraq war films.

The De Palma film is about the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, by U.S. soldiers. The American soldiers also murdered the rape and murder victims family, to try and hide their crimes.

Reports from its first showings in Telluride, Colorado and Lido Island in Venice, Italy, say many viewers were brought to tears by the film. That’s not what happened to Americans when they heard the stories, of course, nor to the military jurors who gave most of the soldiers charged in the killings relative slaps on their hands.

DePalma told reporters that the purpose of the film is clear: “The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people.”

“The pictures are what will stop the war. One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to motivate their Congressmen to vote against this war.”

He’s right. Television helped bring the useless and losing war in Vietnam to a screeching halt.

But the movies associated with the Vietnam War were generally driven by facts blurred into fiction. Redacted promises to be different. The truth will be as painful as the reality of the rape and murders that followed.

Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, the victim whose name was barely mentioned in media reports, was viciously gang raped by the American soldiers. She was then murdered in cold blood and her body was burnt to try to cover up the heinous crime.

The soldiers then murdered the victims family, including her younger sister during the crime that took place in March 2006 south of Baghdad in Mahmudiya.

De Palma’s film is also an indictment of the mainstream American news media, which was complicit in the murder in a sense. De Palma asserted correctly that the mainstream American newspapers and television channels failed to tell the true story of the war by keeping the most graphic images of the conflict away from public opinion.

Distributor Magnolia plans a limited U.S. release for later this year, with wider circulation in Europe. Seems the Europeans are more open to the truth than American audiences.

Isn’t that the saddest tragedy of America, today, besides the horrors of the crimes committed by our soldiers?

(Ray Hanania was named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by the New America Media. He can be reached at rayhanania@comcast.net. Copyright Arab Writers Group Syndicate.)


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com