Monday, October 05, 2009

Forbidden Truth

I left the outdoor theatre at 10.30 one beautiful summer evening in Amman … but my stomach was in knots and I felt a simmering feeling of anger swell up inside me. What was it about that documentary film I had just watched along with about three hundred people of different nationalities … Jordanians, French, Indian, British, American, Australian, German, Spanish and a few Italians? Maybe it was the ‘in your face’ obsession of the Director in the character of Norma Khoury, a Jordanian Christian expat of no fixed abode who wrote a story in 2002 about the so-called honour killing of her childhood friend Dalia who nobody can find. Or was it the fact that this film had been shown by my favourite film promoter? Or the fact that the Director had a nice little sum of 2 million dollars to make said film?

Regardless of the reasons, I had to contend with the fact that along comes a novice Australian director, Anna Broinowski, (who incidentally did not show up) and turns a discredited book into a documentary film and calls it “Forbidden Lies”. It is claimed in the film that the director attempted to give the audience a choice to decide for 'ourselves' and to “disentangle all the controversies” surrounding a woman whose claim to fame was to write a book of fiction about her birthplace – Jordan – and sell it to the publishing world as fact; something someone described as “one of the greatest literary cons of the 21st century”.

But instead of tackling the international social ills of ‘honour’ crimes, the director focused on the seriously delusional and discredited author herself, someone deemed persona non grata around the world. This is not just a story of one woman’s temerity and pathological lies; it is also about political expediency and the west’s most outrageous duplicity when it comes to women’s human rights in the Arab world. Dick Cheney’s daughter became involved in the publication of the said book at a time when Cheney was spinning his own web of lies; she probably ghost wrote it too – it must have been music to the neocons ears, wonderful words in the so-called ‘war on terror’ used as weapons of mass deception in the lead up to one of the most horrific wars of the 21st century, the invasion and destruction of Iraq by America and its allies.

In time all this deception would unravel … and by July 2004 this is exactly what happened to Khoury’s much touted book, when Sydney Morning Herald journalist Malcolm Knox – with the help of Jordanian journalist Rana Husseini and esteemed Jordanian activist Dr. Amal al-Sabbagh - exposed her book as a work of fiction. Perhaps that is why I was so flustered … I could not understand why this documentary needed to be shown and why we needed to see it in Jordan of all places. I could have given the Australian/jewish filmmaker a number of other topics more deserving of attention than the downfall of a con artiste par excellence, who also turned out to be a negligent absentee mother, and yet no-one seems to be bothered by that. It was obvious that Broinowski was taken in by Khoury’s persuasiveness and her soap box rhetoric of speaking on behalf of oppressed Muslim Jordanian women, all three million of them! If Norma Khoury was so concerned about the issue why did she never consult with the Jordanian experts in the field, or even get together with a bunch of women and chat over coffee?

I have no idea what Broinowski thought she was going to achieve by making this film as there was no controversy to ‘disentangle’. The only redeeming feature about this film was the creativity of the editor, who obviously had fun dealing with a load of fantasy. What the film failed to point out was that this book discredited decades of work by prominent Jordanian individuals, activists, journalists and writers who work diligently to raise awareness and combat a true scourge of society and to challenge a cultural mindset that believes it is right to rid the family of a twisted notion of shame by cleansing the family honour … in other words by murder … the victim is always a young woman, and of the 150 -200 homicides every year in Jordan, about 20% percent of these are so-called ‘honour’ crimes.

It’s ironic really to think that Khoury – a Christian Arab - pulled one over an Australian Jew, as the victim in this case must be Broinowski. This is clearly shown in their trip to Jordan that turned into a mini circus of the absurd traveling from one end of the city to the other in search of an elusive truth – a fantasy, a make believe spun in the web of a black widow, waiting to pounce on her victim. And pounce she did. Broinowski’s own face has been rubbed into the deception and pathological lies of a very unstable woman; something we in Jordan have known about for a long time. But nobody seems to listen to truth when spoken out of Arabia … why is that so hard to accept by a foreigner? Political expediency? Racism? You chose!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

did we see the same film???????

Monday, October 05, 2009  
Blogger kinzi said...

We just watched Forbidden Lies and felt differently, that it was an excellent expose of a depraved mind and the excellent standard of Rana Husseini to reclaim what Norma Khoury took.

Seeing Rana, Dr. Hadeedi and Dr. Jahshan, in action, as well as many others, raised Jordan's credibility as world leader in ending dishonor crimes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009  

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