Somehow, in a week when Netanyahu apparently ran out of cartoon charts and decided the only way to grab any attention at the United Nations was to stare down the other leaders for nearly a minute like he was going to challenge them to a fight, I ended up watching a little known French documentary titled Where To Israel? I think I ended up watching it because my rental period with Apple expired this coming week.
The film was directed by Camille Clavel. I’d tell you more about Clavel and the film’s background except I can’t find details on the web, at least not with a quick search. There is no IMDB info or website and that is also why I am not using the poster from the film as the image above but opted for one of the people featured instead.
Filmed in 2013 before the election and the J14 movement or the last Gaza War, this production is a series of interviews, proving to be a good thing and a bad thing. The good is that there are fine interviews with deep discussions on serious issues facing Israel. The bad is that Clavel didn’t give the interviews an over-arching direction or focus. What you end up with is a lot of great discussions without a general topic. The pieces do provide a rare glimpse into Israel.
A couple points I really liked in the movie. I should mention here that everyone in the film – I believe – is a descendant of Holocaust victims/survivors. One of them pointed out, rightly so, that Israel is in fact a nation essentially created and comprising of refugees. It was the influx of refugees after WWI and WWII that gave modern Israel its inhabitants and shape as a country.
I was impressed by another participant who expressed his desire that considering the Jewish past, the country would begin to recognize racism in any form and not only anti-semitism. This coupled with the film pointing out that there isn’t a single museum recognizing the Palestinian heritage to the land even though Tel Aviv University sits on ground that once was a Palestinian village.
There was a good discussion about the Nakba which is the Arabic word designating the day the Palestinians fled their homes during the ’48 war. Every year Palestinians observe this day and demonstrate and it receives negative coverage in Jewish press. By the way, the film points out it is now illegal to mention this word in a government sponsored forum or outlet as though somehow, deeming it illegal makes the event disappear from history. I believe it was Sahar Vardi – pictured above – who pointed out that Jews (because of the official spin on the word) take it to mean that Palestinians hate Israelis whereas Palestinians view it as the day they were forced to become refugees. One side sees a threat while the other mourns a loss.
Sahar Vardi is a bright spot in this film. Jailed numerous times as an activist, she’s known for having refused to carry out her military conscription. She discusses how people call her a traitor and how she views her rejection of a Zionist State and embraces a democratic one. She was very articulate, passionate and raised points seldom heard.
Her appearance was a stark comparison to a Likud MK who during his interview outlined a history of the land that historians didn’t know existed – mainly because the history never occurred that way. Good thing the guy is in politics where truth isn’t essential because he’d flunk out as a historian. But it did show on camera the inept leadership and the delusions they chose to live in.
Overall, I’d give this film a 3 star out of 5. It was interesting but had no direction. You learn things but it was like being in a random discussion. The production quality was fine, the interviews really good, but the film lacked cohesion.