By Inayatullah Ibrahim Lalani
Up until the early part of twentieth century, America was generally acknowledged as a â€˜Christianâ€™ country. It all changed in the middle decades of that century and now we often hear the appellation â€˜Judeo-Christianâ€™ to describe the dominant element in America. To many Muslim ears, Judeo-Christian is now a buzzword for Muslim baiting.
All that did not happen spontaneously. In fact, it was the result of a cleverly choreographed campaign of manipulation by the great movie moguls of Hollywood, along with the opinion-makers of other genre. Through a series of wide-screen, Technicolor extravaganzas such as â€œTen Commandmentsâ€, â€œSamson and Delilahâ€,â€ Ben Hurâ€, â€œExodusâ€,â€ Quo Vadisâ€ etc. the American mind was reprogrammed to think of Israel as â€œUs.â€ The next step, made easier by the success of the first one, was a surreptitious indoctrination that anyone who defied Israelâ€™s policies of ethnic cleansing and territorial expansion at the expense of the native Palestinians was â€œThemâ€. The epithet â€œTerroristâ€, originally an Israeli invention, was then easily and conveniently hung around the neck of the legitimate Palestinian resistance, no matter how feeble.
â€˜Valentinoâ€™s Ghostâ€™, a 93 minute documentary produced by Hollywoodâ€™s Michael Singh and Catherine Jordan, has a checkered history of repeated rejections and financial challenges. Nevertheless, the production finally saw the light of the day recently in Dallas, in the upscale Angelika Theater where it had a gala premiere on Saturday, March 10, 2012. A tumultuous applause capped the ending. The producers personally appeared at the event, addressed and rubbed shoulders with the viewers and autographed the DVDs which sold out within minutes of the showâ€™s ending.
The documentary seeks to illuminate the viewer about the machinations of Hollywood that have so brilliantly succeeded in demonizing Arabs and Muslims in the eyes of most Americans. Narrated by Mike Farrell (of M*A*S*H) and with music by Emmy award winning composer Lisa Coleman (so impressed was she with the production that she provided the score free of charge!), the film features such notables as Professors John Mearsheimer and Melani McAlister, journalist-authors extra-ordinaire Robert Fisk, Niall Ferguson and (the late) Anthony Shadid, screen-writer Alan Sharp, novelist Gore Vidal and many others, in order to show the way in which these images of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media actually mirror Americaâ€™s foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. Mearsheimer and Fisk even venture into forbidden waters with their analysis of the role of the Israeli lobby AIPAC in shaping of American foreign policy and American media images, specifically as it concerns Israel-Palestine.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting initially proffered a $100,000 grant to get the project started. Six other philanthropic foundations, including a Jewish foundation, provided additional grants. CPB, which had intended the documentary to be aired nationally through PBS, backed out, leaving the project in limbo and in danger of dying. The producers persevered, raising small grants here and there through privately arranged fund-raisers and finally finished the film in June of 2011. The result is a creation of exceptional quality, not only from the technical standpoint but for its artistic, intellectual and educational values. It makes a persuasive case for American powers-that-be to re-examine the whole issue of American policies and of the pernicious influence of AIPAC on the decision makers.
As of March, 2012, CPB has kindly agreed to re-consider â€œValentinoâ€™s Ghost,â€ provided that the producers cut the 93-minute film down to a more manageable one-hour length favored by programming executives. Mr. Singh is currently seeking $10,000 in funding or donations, to finance the re-editing, and is excited about the possibility. â€œCPB is serious about broadcasting â€˜Valentinoâ€™s Ghostâ€™ on PBS, so long as we can deliver a one-hour show that they like,â€ he said optimistically.
Meanwhile, Singh and Jordan would like for the full-length documentary to be widely screened, of course. Contact â€˜Bullfrog Filmsâ€™ to arrange a screening in your city or for your organization, or for your childrenâ€™s classrooms. Visit bullfrogfilms.com or call 800-543-FROG.
DVDs for home use only are available from valentinosghost.com.
For best results, write to PBS President Paula Kerger at PBS, 2100 Crystal Dr., Arlington VA 22202 and request her to air the film nationally. PBS likes to stay in touch with the pulse of their viewers and often heeds their requests.