The Gazan People’s Front or People’s Front of Gaza less funny than Nazirene

A Gaza Flotilla PR mishap, as minor as a participant speaking out of place, was seized upon by one reporter to suggest rivalry between co-sponsors of the relief convoy due to convene Saturday at Gaza’s door. When an interviewee said “Free Palestine Movement” instead of “Free Gaza,” the reporter recalled scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the mortal rivalry between the “People’s Judean Front” and the “People’s Front of Judea,” often understood to lampoon the PLO and it splinter groups. Haha. But why didn’t the reporter mention Python’s other irreverent terrorist gang also fighting the Roman occupation: the uber-Zionist Nazirene? Because Otto and the Nazirene, that’s right, not Nazarene, were cut from the video when control was wrestled from Monty Python for the rights.

Why the offense? Because they wore swastika-like Stars-of-David and they goose-stepped? Because they followed a small-mustached leader named Otto who dreamed of a racially pure state for Jews only?

I’m surprised that more Monty Python fans aren’t livid at the suggestion the classic has been censored for all posterity. But only those who saw Life of Brian in the theater, or can pick up an out-of-print paperback of the screenplay, would know what lines successive viewers don’t hear to memorize.

Lines like these between Eric Idle and Graham Chapman:

OTTO: It’s time, you know … Time that we Jews racially purified ourselves … We need more living room. We must move into the traditionally Jewish areas of Samaria.

BRIAN: What about the Samaritans?

OTTO: Well, we can put them in little camps. And after Samaria we must move into Jordan and create a great Jewish state that will last a thousand years.

Imagine a Zionist depicted using Hitler’s expression “living space!” Lebensraum meant a homeland where the German people could live unmolested, with room for their population to grow.

Associating Zionists with Nazis has always meant courting trouble. Does it sound incredible that defenders of Israel would take a knife to Monty Python’s work? Know any other blockbuster movies of the late 70s which mysteriously shed memorable scenes when they reemerged on video?

Criterion recently released a DVD with extras that purport to include the deleted scenes, you can see them on Youtube, but they are actually outtakes with bits missing still, in particular the lines above.

I wrote about this at length in an earlier post, when I came upon the missing dialog just by chance. In that post I also transcribed the full text of the censored scenes.

Back to the joke made at the Free Gaza Movement‘s expense. Hopefully the organizers can laugh it off. Really Jerusalem-based reporter Jackie Rowland was making hay of an email shown to her by a participant being compelled to switch the word “Palestine” for “Gaza” because they were not authorized to speak officially for the “Free Gaza Movement.” With any improvised collection of activists, only those tasked should speak for the whole. Especially someone who may have been admonished beforehand not to present themselves as a spokesman.

I cannot presume to know what were the motives in this instance, but it’s been my experience that characters bent on disrupting the work of activists often put themselves before the cameras to sabotage the message. Leaders have to guard against that tactic.

The reporter should have know as much. Imagine interviewing Rush Limbaugh and taking him at his word that he represented the White House.

The activist should have made that fact more clear. It certainly was disingenuous of the reporter however, because it would be easy to confirm that there was no such group, instead of concluding that rival non-profits were vying for taking credit for the convoy. In that way Jackie Rowland’s article seemed like a mean-spirited laugh.

The groups which have brought the multi-million dollar enterprise together that is the Gaza Freedom Flotilla appear to me to be far from adversaries, otherwise how could this be the ninth unified attempt?

The same cannot be said for Fatah and Hamas of course, nor of the extremists in Israel.

monty-python-life-brian-ottoThe latest reports have the relief convoy meeting in the international waters off of Gaza on Saturday. The story has been playing well in the international press, and is beginning to see daylight in the US. Apart from those with a Zionist slant, two decent reports emerged today in the WSJ and Time.

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