Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thinking about Palestine

Something else I've been doing in the past month is watching a couple of films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Netflix is great.) The renewed pique in my interest was probably sparked by the Israeli announcement of additional apartments in East Jerusalem when Biden went to visit, although I didn't think at the time, "Wow! I've got to watch more documentaries about that!" It's been more subconscious than that.

So the NY Times reported today on a march of about 70 far-right Israeli demonstrators going through East Jerusalem (where a lot of Arabs do live, and where the Arabs see the future capital of their independent state). The Arab residents of the area came out on their balconies and did a lot of pot-banging and shouting of their own. My favorite quote of the article came at the end, when a Fatah representative said, "Where else in the world would you need 2,000 armed, fully equipped police officers to secure a failed march of 70 of your own citizens in an area that you claim as your capital?"

Besides reading in the news, here are the films I've watched this month:

Paradise Now (2005) - yeah, I bought this one. I had been eying it since its release. Finally I got on Netflix and found that I could stream it - and then the stream was only dubbed in English. I stopped watching about 6 minutes in convinced that I would need the DVD but that it would be powerful enough I would need a copy. I wasn't disappointed in the least. The film follows two young Palestinians who have agreed to be suicide bombers.

Encounter Point (2006) - a documentary about people on both sides of the conflict with family members who had been killed by the other side, and about their decision to meet each other and discuss their losses rather than perpetuating the hatred. Very moving. Can we hope that their desire for peace above all will come to fruition?

Until When... (2004) - another documentary, this time only of the Palestinian side, but it focuses on the refugee settlements. In interviews with five individuals/families, you get a pretty keen feel for the way the constant conflict and the pursuant interruptions could get under your skin. Having to buy water because it's just not turned on often enough to be able to store up what is needed. The checkpoints. The constant shooting, and the shelling. The interviewer invites each person/family being interviewed to describe the homes they had to leave behind, either with the first wave of the establishment of Israel, or in the settlements that continue to crop up. They talk with such longing, they describe their trees and their gardens, and places where their dialect was spoken. The underlining theme was an argument for the right to return.

I've ordered The Lemon Tree to watch soon. I've also had a book by the same name sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read, which I'll have to try to get to sooner or later. They don't appear to be linked beyond their titles. The film will be a must-see just because of one of the actresses, Hiam Abbass, who was phenomenal in The Visitor and had supporting roles in Paradise Now, Amreeka (SUPERB!), The Limits of Control (one of the more cryptic films I've watched recently), and Munich. Anyway, Hiam Abbass is one to watch a movie for.

But back on topic. I don't know how anyone can objectively look at the situation and not feel that the Palestinians have the perpetual short end of the stick. I have nothing admiration for the people who live there who can force themselves to work for peace and a solution. So will there ever be peace? I hope so, but my hope feels small.

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