Wednesday, 16 March 2011

and now for something completely different...

Brilliant! Unfortunately only subtitled in Hebrew, but basically the joke is no-one likes the new immigrants, but after 5 minutes they are the 'proper Israelis' and attack the next batch of olim! Starring Arik Einstein, Uri Zohar


Sunday, 13 March 2011

To be or not to be...

I write this post with a number of things buzzing around my head...

I've been meaning to write something else following up on my earlier posts on The Promise now that I've watched all four episodes. But since then, a horrific attack on a family in the settlement of Itamar near Nablus has brought pain and passion to the surface in the news items, blogs and tweets I have been reading. It makes the fiction and drama of The Promise (for that is what, at the end of the day, it was) seem pretty irrelevant.

Admittedly, the pain and passion is rarely far from the surface when it comes to THE CONFLICT  - but in the debates that surrounded The Promise (was it antisemitic? what about the historical inaccuracies and biases? not all Israeli families have a pool and private beach y'know!) seemed a little over-sensitive to me. After all this was a drama that used an historical  and contemporary context as a setting for that drama. There was bound to be inaccuracies and generalisations for the sake of characterisation and movement of plot. The neatness with which the story came full circle and the persistent parallels that were being drawn between then and now, albeit with different players in the roles, seemed to me to be merely dramatic tools. It is a pity that this is the nearest to a study of THE CONFLICT that many people will ever get, but then I have formed much of my own understanding of early twentieth century China from watching The Last Emperor. A good film, beautifully made, but I don't doubt there are a few historical inaccuracies and dramatic expediencies. As a history teacher I appreciate the value of drama and film to present an historical event, particularly in recreating the human, emotional element. But any use of film in a history lesson, be it Pathe newsreel or Hollywood blockbuster, is accompanied by analysis - where are the inaccuracies? why are they there? And this is with 13 and 14 year olds.

Then the news broke about Itamar. My heart broke as I read about a 3 month old baby being murdered in her cot. This is no less than a tragedy.

to remember the Fogel family
However, also tragic is the reaction from some quarters. I include the response of  Hamas, calling the attack a 'heroic operation' and the radical settler response of 'price tag' revenge which has involved some violent attacks on Palestinian properties.

But Bibi has also politicised the tragedy - in his official response to the murders he demands an international condemnation of the attacks, pointing out how quickly the international community responds to Israel's erecting "a building here or a building there" (as if the settlements house tens of people rather than half a million) and implying they have been rather too slow to condemn this particular injustice against the Jewish people. Of course he wastes little time in calling the Palestinians 'animals' - ignoring (?) the incendiary and frankly racist nature of such language (nothing learned from 1995 then...) and of course the international community has been somewhat concerned with the disaster unfolding in Japan and the Pacific, which may account for a delayed reaction to Itamar.  But they have responded, all condemning what could only be condemned.

Bibi is an astute politician - he managed to get into the PMO again, after all.... he is using this tragedy to push his own political ideas that while the PA cannot be a true partner for peace while it "engages in double talk", Israel can be a true partner for peace while it continues to build in the Territories. 

To be or not to be...? that is the question. 

It is certainly a tragedy.