Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Death in Gaza (2004)

Now this, in contrast to almost everything else I’ve seen lately, is an important film. The filmmaker intended to do two films—one about the Israeli/Palestine conflict from the point of view of Palestinian children (this film) and one from the point of view of Israeli children. I wish he could have made that second film, but he was shot by Israeli soldiers just as he was finishing the filming for this movie. His death is not kept a secret in the film—you know from the very beginning that it ends with his death—but that’s not the only reason I was nervous about watching it. I’m not very brave about watching violent stuff. But it was fascinating, though disturbing, and not as violent as I had imagined it would be.

The filmmaker and those who edited and finished the film later tried pretty hard to be unbiased. What you get seems to be, as close as it can be, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as Palestinian kids see it—many of them have lost relatives to Israeli soldier fire; all Palestinians killed are made into martyrs, the body carried through the streets and kissed by everyone while a man yells stuff through a loudspeaker; kids are recruited as scouts for militant groups (and if they happen to be killed, there’s thousands more to replace them); all Israelis are Jewish pigs; they spend their spare time throwing rocks at Israeli tanks, because they’re everywhere. I can't quite imagine what it would be like to grow up with tanks driving through the streets. It’s particularly interesting that the Palestinian kids think that all the soldiers are Jews, since the Israeli soldiers who killed the filmmaker were most likely Bedouin Arabs. But it’s what they’re taught by parents and teachers and everyone else.

I don’t know that the movie gives any hope for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine, but it’s a way to better understand one side. Definitely worth watching.

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