Suicide Killers: Paradise is Hell, a documentary on suicide bombers in Israel, played at a special screening on Thursday, May 3, at the Tivoli Theater. Presented by the Anti-Defamation League Israel Task Force, Hadassah and Aish HaTorah, the event included a question and answer period with the film’s director Pierre Rehov after the screening.
The audience of perhaps 70 people at the Tivoli responded enthusiastically to the documentary, keeping Rehov answering questions long after the film.
Suicide Killers uses rare footage of failed suicide bombers in an Israeli prison, plus interviews with family members of suicide bombers, and footage of a masked bomber in preparation, to explore the rise of suicide bombers in Israel. The film’s director just lets his subjects talk, without a voice-over narration, a more powerful technique than injecting the presence or opinion of the filmmaker.
The film also touched on the rising use of suicide bombings as a tool, and it also included analysis from various experts, including a psychologist and some moderate Muslims. One moderate Muslim, a Palestinian lawyer, noted that the violent technique does not actually advance the Palestinian cause, and that moderate Muslims are often the first targets of these religious extremists. While their actions were directed by leaders with political goals, it was striking that the young bombers themselves were focused almost exclusively on their religious fervor, a desire to leave behind a flawed earth for a perfect heaven, and were oblivious to the harm to others.
French-Jewish director Pierre Rehov, who holds both French and Israeli citizenship, told the audience after the film about his family’s history as Jewish Algerians who were expelled from their homeland. He also answered questions about the French response to recent unrest among Muslim groups. “The French are slow to change. They are unique. While they openly invite anyone to come to France, in fact, they never accept the outsiders as really French.”
This is one of a series of films that Rehov has done on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His other films include Road To Jenin, The Trojan Horse and Silent Exodus. He told the Tivoli audience that he feels that the difficulty of working in Palestinian territories too often introduces a pro-Palestinian bias in news reports, and his documentaries aim in part to counteract that effect.