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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Film review: Avenge but one of my two eyes

Israeli film maker, Avi Mograbi’s amazing documentary is a three leveled snapshot of Israel and it’s relationship with the occupied territories of Palestine. I think the term ‘occupied territory’ just doesn’t do justice to the reality. Palestinian land looks bruised, un kept, and bleak. We watch as Palestinians go about their day constantly harassed and humiliated by angry young Israeli soldiers who shy away in shame when the camera is pointed at them. I’ve always found that when you have to rely on your own two fists to get you by, there is a self preserving humility that keeps ones actions in check. Give frightened angry young people a massive military advantage and the type of sadistic behavior we have seen time and time before starts to become apparent. From Abu ghraib to any Baghdad street where 18 year old kids from Kansas squeeze their triggers at any object, half in fear, half in hate, we see the actions of those being asked to fight morally questionable conflicts. We see the IDF stopping an ambulance from taking a wounded Palestinian woman to hospital leaving her family to weep on the roadside, we see Palestinian school children barred for no reason from crossing a gate and in one scene we see an Israeli soldier mockingly force a bunch of Palestinian men from working in a field, just because he can.

These images are thrown up against the Israeli relationship with the occupied territories. This is summed up watching a group of Israeli tourists visiting the historical site of Masada and in the cult of personality indoctrination of Samson. At Masada the mass suicide of the zealots who held out against a Roman force sent to ‘surround them’ is interestingly given the sort of praise reserved for Bin Laden recruitment videos. The mass suicide is not only praised but rationalized as the only thing to do. Visiting school children are asked to sort themselves into 4 groups, those who would commit suicide, those who would fight, those who would pray and those who would surrender. One young girl defiantly sat in surrender, as the majority went to fight, a couple to prayer, and remarkably four went to suicide.

The biblical story of Samson bringing suicide upon himself while collapsing a temple full of Philistines in Gaza is not only taught as historical fact to a class of Jewish children, but older teenagers sitting around a camp fire praise that he went to Gaza to fight. So much mileage is made from the unbearable humiliation meted out to Samson by his enemies, that his only course of action was to kill as many as he could with his suicide. The tragic irony that this is what fuels and justifies Palestinian suicide bombers is missed by every single one of them, incredible.

The third level that Mograbi shows us is a conversation he is having on the phone with a Palestinian friend of his living under occupation. As the film continues, as we cut back to the conversation, we hear his Palestinian friend analyze his own growing militancy at the conditions he is being forced to live under. Mograbi listens, silently, the sense of guilt he feels is clear and his calls for moderation end up sounding as hollow as he looks.

It is a remarkable documentary that shows what a truly human failure the Israel/Palestinian conflict has become.


At 21/7/06 8:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what is the solution?

At 21/7/06 10:06 am, Anonymous bomber said...

..................................... I think Israelis need to take a long hard look at their victim complex, if you are Palestinian it is acceptable to have a victim complex, because you are the victim! Look at what is happening in Lebanon right now the kill ratio is almost 300 dead to 30 Israeli dead - that total over reaction and military imbalance are the symptoms of a deep seated paranoia, and when you look at the world history of persecution aimed at Jews, it is totally understandable. What ISN'T needed is the role the United States plays, the reason there is no peace in Israel, is because you can't make no money from it. The US gives Israel $2 BILLION each year in military 'aid' which has to be spent on American defence contracts. Those contractors in turn pay large donations to both Political parties and spread their labour intensive factories around many states so any Politician DUMB enough to cut back on this corporate welfare gets the threat of factory plant closures and mass unemployment in their area. It is a system so insidious it makes you gag. Much is trumpeted up by idiots that 'Jews run America', yes there is a huge influence the pro-Israeli bloc has (they have pressured all US media to stop referring to Palestine as Occupied Territory, only 4% of news casts now do so) BUT the influence is only as strong as Americas need to make profits, the second it no longer becomes profitable to support Israel, watch America walk without a second look back over its shoulder.

At 21/7/06 2:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The victim complex is a legitimate feeling by both Palestinians and Israelis. If some martyr desperate for a bit of rumpy pumpy with 72 virgins in heaven sets off his semtex in an Israeli restaurant I would feel pretty fucking victimised if I was an Israeli whose child ended up looking like off-cuts from an abattoir.

At 21/7/06 4:09 pm, Anonymous bomber said...

..........................................Hmmmm, when I compare Israelis ducking for cover in their air conditioned, plush carpeted, well furnished, leafy suburbs with one of the most over crowded, poverty striken regions on the face of the planet, I have a real difficulty seeing them as both victims, I mean the word 'victim' technically applies but not as a defence to justify the occupation of Palestinian land. The West Bank is one large prison complex, and it is kept that way to oppress the Palestinian people so that they don't slow the constant building of Jewish settlements, complete with their Jewish only roads that connect the settlements together. The Israeli government does this for the eventual annexation of the West Bank. To use the analogy you do to attempt to justify this shows how little you are aware of what is actually happening, I don't blame you - the pro-Israeli lobby group is very powerful, they managed to convince most News media in America to not refer to the Palestinian lands as occupied territory, now only 4% of domestic American news mentions that the land is occupied. Israel can only continue their oppression if they have a huge military advantage, America gives them that advantage, thus the need to not have Americans question why the Palestinians are always fighting, thus the need to hide the fact that they are occupied.

At 22/7/06 9:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest you may care to peruse Cedric Geffen's letter in today's Weekend Herald. It outlines events quite well.

At 22/7/06 11:46 am, Anonymous bomber said...

.....................................I find it incredible that you are still trying to defend the indefensible, and I guess you didn't read Robert Fisk in the very same paper? Dude half arsed peace attempts by Israel don't really count to a people brutalised and evicted from their rightful property. I am the first to admit that there have been many mistakes by corrupt Palestinian leaders, but in the totality of the equation the blame is firmly on the Israelis. Are you seriously telling me the Jewish settlements on the West Bank with their Jewish only roads that connect the settlements thus turning the West Bank into one large Palestinian prison complex is an example of an Israel interested in peace and fairness? Are you serioulsy telling me the outrage that Israel is committing on Lebanon right now is a country wanting peace and fairness? No - the Jewish people have been driven to a culture of paranoia based on their horriffic experiences from World War 2 - the abused has become the abuser.


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