Later this month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences plans to award an honorary Oscar to Jean-Luc Godard, a New Wave French filmmaker with a deep-seated anti-Semitic streak. Recent biographers have provided ample documentation of Godard's unremitting anti-Semitism.
But that's not the way Godard is described in a lengthy, front-page article in the Nov. 2 edition of the New York Times ("Hollywood Production: An Honorary Oscar Revives a Controversy" by Michael Cieply.)
Cieply's article strives mightily against accepting the plain fact that Godard is an anti-Semite. Instead, Cieply skirts around his anti-Semitism and merely raises the question of whether he might really be an anti-Semite in the deepest recesses of his character.
So, Cieply, in his lead paragraph, instead describes Godard as "that most deeply confounding of European filmakers."
He then goes on to report that the Academy suddenly finds itself having to wrestle with "claims" that Godard "has long harbored anti-Jewish views." But Cieply and the Times make it clear that they're not ready to accept such claims. Instead, Cieply notes that articles in the Jewish press "have revived a simmering debate over whether" Godard might be an anti-Semite.
As far as Cieply and the Times are concerned, they just settle for depicting Godard as "an avowed anti-Zionist and advocate for Palestinian rights."
So there's no mention in Cieply" article that fellow French filmmaker Francois Truffaut broke with Godard in 1968 after Godard called film producer Pierre Braunberger a "sale Juif" (a filthy Jew). Or that Godard defended the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Or that, in a 1964 film, "Une Femme Mariee" (A Married Woman), Godard featured a character remarking, "Today, in Germany, I said to someone, 'How about if tomorrow we kill all the Jews and the hairdressers?' He replied "Why the Hairdressers?'"
These and other examples of Godard's anti-Semitism have been extensively documented by Godard biographers, by the Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish press.
But even when Cieply cites a blatant example of Godard's anti-Semitism in his 1976 documentary "Here and There" about a French family and a Palestinian family, which features alternating images of Adolf Hitler and Golda Meir, he shies away from drawing the obvious conclusion that here again was a demonstration of Godard's reflexive anti-Semitism. Instead, Cieply reports that alternating Hitler and Meir images "suggested to some (perhaps not to Cieply and the Times, mind you) that Mr. Godard sets them up as equivalents."
How's that for scrubbing away Godard's anti-Semitism? Let others throw the first stone at Godard, but not the New York Times, which has never been and still is not a fighter against anti-Semitism.
And incidentally how is the Academy wrestling with this anti-Semite who's about to be awarded an honorary Oscar?
There again, Cieply sympathizes with the fact that the Academy has to field questions about Godard's "wariness of traits he associates with Jews." How's that for a Times-like PC euphemism for anti-Semitism. It's not Jews who are wary victims; it's Godard!
Even when Godard lashes out at Hollywood and the film industry as "bound up in Jewish usury," the Times and the industry turn the other cheek.
In fact, Cieply discovers a Godard biographer who attributes Godard's "anti-Semitic attitudes" to "factors that included his childhood in war-torn Europe, a turn toward pro-Palestinian radicalism in the 1960s and a complicated view of history in which Mr. Godard has blamed Moses for having corrupted society by bringing mere text, in the form of written law, down from the mountain, after having encountered an actual image, the burning bush."
Even Moses is enlisted to rationalize and sanitize Godard's anti-Semitism in the columns of the New York Times.
One can just imagine how differently the Times would report similar slurs if instead of being aimed at Jews they were aimed at blacks or gays.