Asking the Coen Brothers to Support Jewish-Arab Dialogue sign now

Dear Joel and Ethan Coen,


You do not know us, but you'll forgivewe hopeour addressing you
familiarly because, well, we think we have some claim to knowing you,
because everybody here would unreservedly call themselves a fan of
your films (or at least this was the intention).

Over the years, your films could be said to have shaped our own
characters and lives, even as far away from Minnesota as Kuwait, Cairo
and RamAllah. The (Palestinian) author of this letter remembers when
his own little brother was so inspired by the Big Lebowski that he
took to pissing on others' carpets to settle disputes. We also
chuckled along with you when we watched The Lady Killers, Burn After
Reading (our likely favourite), not to mention A Serious Man. Perhaps
we should make our departure from A Serious Man.

Without a doubt, that film of yours gave a certain voice to a
particular Jewish feeling of otherness, even in these very peaceable
times in America; and certainly, this particular feeling of otherness
might have found a comforting solution, for some, in Zionism, by
giving some Jewish people some weapons. We don't want to preach here; some of the people who have signed this letter will be in favour of a
two-state solution to the "Conflict", others a one-state solution and
still others will be in favour of a no-states-at-all kind of free-for-all. What we have in common though is the feeling that Palestinians shouldn't be made to suffer as a result of the kind of discrimination which you so skilfully referenced in A Serious Man. We also think, that, sadly, if you end up receiving the Dan David Prize on the 15 Mayon the day when Palestinians remember their Nakbathat you will, by default, be standing shoulder to shoulder with Israeli settlers who torch Palestinian livestock herds and burn down their olive trees. Unfortunately you will be co-opted into this. There might be a good time for you to receive such a prize at
Tel Aviv University, but this is definitely not that time. So you
could fairly ask us: why are we asking you?

The truth is: we would like to continue to be your fans, unreservedly.
Whatever we think about the causes and the ideal solutions to the
conflict, we all would adamantly like for it to not become a
"Jewish-Palestinian" or "Arab-Jewish" conflict. You would be making
our lives a lot easier if you didn't go, because you would put paid to
the lies that every Jew anywhere in the world stands against the
Palestinians. If you went, it would make our argument that much more difficult; it would become increasingly impossible for us to have reasonable discussions in Arab countries; it would give some very unpalatable characters in Arab countries the opportunity to equate
anything Jewish with the enemy. In short, it would be more difficult
for us to be fans, not only of you, but of Woody Allen, too.

Nobody can take away the (considerable) Jewish contributions not only
to cinema, but to science, music and literature (some of us who have
signed have also tried their hands at translating Saul Bellow into
Arabic.). We would like not to have to take sides; we would like to
remain committed to the Palestinian cause while continuing to have a
healthy interaction with the Jewish world, such as it is.

So we would like to ask you to consider the opportunity now before
you, to help us have a more civil discussion between Arabs and Jews,
by not going to Tel Aviv to receive the Dan David Prize on 15 May.

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Erika LittleBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Joel and Ethan Coen

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