Sunday, 13 February 2011

Part 2

So I watched The Promise, and must say I was pretty impressed. It was a brilliantly put together piece of drama and I think it presented a pretty well balanced picture of 1945 and 2011 in the Holy Land, even if it took me while to get used to the notion of Patrick from Coupling being a former Israeli general (with a very British accent - not sure if he was supposed to be sabra or oleh...). The movement between the two time periods was handled smoothly, enabling the viewer to see parallels between the political situations and the personal stories.

It will be interesting to see how Peter Kosminsky's portrayal of the last years of the British Mandate will develop in tonight's episode. Last week he showed the British using an unsuspecting Len as an undercover lure to get a 'wanted man' from the Jewish underground. Len arranged to meet the mark at a demonstration against British immigration quotas and was shocked when the mark was shot right in front of him, in the back. There wasn't too much of an explanation for Len or the audience, although it stuck me that this was in fact a targeted assassination - something Israel herself is regularly and loudly condemned for doing.

habibi on the beat? 

Reflecting on this element of the story now, I would have liked a bit more background of the disparate Jewish groups in Palestine in this period. I think the average viewer would have come away with the impression that the Jewish underground was unified at this time, which of course it wasn't. The Haganah, Lehi and Irgun had their own infrastructures and command and although there was co-operation between the various Zionist factions (such as the United Resistance during 1946, which ended after the King David Hotel bombing) their attitudes towards the British was one of the things that characterised their different positions and actions. The Haganah followed the policy of havlaga (restraint) whereas Irgun and Lehi believed in reprisals and revenge attacks.

Nonetheless, as the programme drew to an end, I was left with the feeling that Kosminsky's research really did pay off. I was particularly intrigued by the 'truth and reconciliation'-style  forum of 2011 in which Paul and Omar spoke. "The first time you sit down with your enemy, it will be hard." This seems to be a way froward through the ever-deepening hatred and mistrust between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian territories. I look forward to the developments that are sure to come involving Omar and Erin (I smell a love affair...).

So, I will leave you with my favourite quote from the first episode and then we can all cross our fingers that tonight, Paul will emerge unscathed from the cafe....

Clara: "You think we're ungrateful?"
Len: "Well... yeah, after all we did for you in the war."
Clara: "You fought the war for your Empire, Len, not for us."

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