Why “Jojo Rabbit” Deserved Its Oscar

At the Academy Awards last Sunday, the film Jojo Rabbit—about a boy in Nazi Germany whose mother is secretly hiding a Jewish child—won the prize for “best adapted screenplay,” and was nominated for several others. John Podhoretz, who is no fan of Holocaust movies, or of Jojo Rabbit’s writer-director Taika Waititi (né Cohen), was surprised to find himself praising the film:

Jojo is Johannes, a boy whose father is (he thinks) off fighting the war and whose glamorous mother (Scarlett Johansson) goes off every day to do things about which he is not in the least curious. Lonely and solitary, he consoles himself through conversations with an imaginary Hitler (played by Waititi), who is every bit the ten-year-old boy Jojo is.

As the film begins, Jojo goes off for the weekend to train as part of the Hitler Youth, a broadly comic sequence featuring ludicrous exercises that suddenly becomes something else when Jojo is tasked with killing a rabbit with his bare hands to demonstrate his readiness to serve the Nazi cause. His inability to do so leads to the mocking nickname that gives the movie its title. And the reversal of mood in the scene gives a hint of the reversals Jojo will experience as the movie continues.

Waititi shows an uncommon grace in his portrayal of Jojo, who has had his head pumped full of disgusting ideas he barely even understands. What he does understand is the joy of a uniform, its swastika insignia, and the hunter’s knife that comes with it—and the fatherless fantasy that Hitler could be his intimate friend.

His mother is afraid that the Nazis are turning Jojo into a robot, but his problem is not a lack of feeling; it’s too much feeling. It is precisely his openness to emotion that will save Jojo. And it will cause him to experience terrible grief in the town square. It’s a scene that features one of the most devastating and brilliantly rendered moments in contemporary cinema, and fittingly so, since Jojo Rabbit is just an extraordinary piece of work and maybe the year’s best film.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

More about: Film, Holocaust, Nazi Germany

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict