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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To Die in Jerusalem

The New York Times has a story today about a new HBO movie that is premised upon a conversation that never took place face-to-face between the parents of suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras and those of Rachel Levy HY"D. Al-Akhras murdered Levy at a supermarket in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood in March 2002. See the trailer here. This is a pretty accurate summary of the way things are in Israel today:
Ms. Medalia, who had initially been afraid as an Israeli to venture into the Palestinian territory for the filming, returned to Jerusalem, confident that she could arrange a meeting of the mothers. It was obvious to anyone who saw the student film, Mr. Priddy said, “that these two women have to meet, which was the naïveté of the whole thing.”

Among other challenges, Ms. Akhras would not or could not travel without her husband, and he, the father of a suicide bomber, was not eligible for a visa to visit Jerusalem, Ms. Medalia said. At one point the filmmakers reached out to the Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, to be a neutral mediator, and in April 2006 he escorted Ms. Levy into the West Bank.

But the accompanying members of the film crew were detained for several hours by Palestinian authorities, and by the time they were released, night was falling. A scared Ms. Levy asked to return to Jerusalem, the plan for a meeting abandoned.

And there it stood, some 300 hours of footage shot, and still an unfinished film, until Ms. Nevins ran into the Priddys in August 2006 at the Sundance Institute. Over lunch the idea was floated that the mothers could meet by satellite. As disappointed as Ms. Medalia was that she couldn’t physically unite the women, she said, “the satellite to me really represented the reality.”

For four hours the mothers talked, which Ms. Medalia found hopeful. But many viewers will not get the ending they want. The renunciation of violence that Ms. Levy seeks never comes, supplanted by the rhetoric of grievances, as Ms. Levy talks about hate that goes back decades, and Ms. Akhras details the hardships of Palestinian life.

At one point, when Ms. Levy says resistance is not worth loss of life, Ms. Akhras asks: “Should I resist occupation with a bouquet of roses? On a tray of gold?
But 'peace' is at hand.



At 8:02 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I wanted to puke, even reading the HBO website.

Evidently, one should feel that the killer of Rachel Levy is as much a victim as the bright, young, intelligent woman whose life was snuffed out.

"Who are we to judge, anyway? After all, we are no better than they are, actually, we're worse!"

That is the perspective this documentary seems to be saying.

"If only I can "understand" the other side, then there will be peace!"


At 8:04 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Another thing to note...

Take a look at the picture of the movie poster. The word victims is used, implying that Al-Akhras is as much a victim as Levy.

Sickness itself.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Red Tulips,

Unfortunately, this is the kind of thinking that pervaded during the Oslo era. Israelis were encouraged to role play and empathize with the 'Palestinians' - which is a standard tactic in conflict resolution. It didn't work because the 'Palestinians' never reciprocated. Israeli kids were 'educated' to 'peace' and 'Palestinian' kids were educated to war.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Michael said...

There's really no point in talking to suicide bombers, or their parents. There's only one language these "people" understand, and they speak it quite loudly.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Regardless of what goes on in this film, one difference between Al-Akhras's parents and the usual parents of the terrorist is that they did not celebrate her death.

However there is the mentality to equate the victim with her killer. Bret Stephens did an excellent piece debunking Joshua Hammer and Joel Greenberg that's preserved here.

I blogged about it here.

And as Stephens points out, missing in all these discussions of murderer and victim, they ignore a second victim who was very much a hero - Haim Smadar - who knew he was likely sacrificing his life by preventing Al-Akhras from actually entering the store.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Incognito said...

Although not the filmmakers' intention, the documentary demonstrates the tragic futility of trying to establish peace in that region when part of the equation (the Palestinians) are unwilling to make the effort to reach out.

I blogged about this last night because, although the film was well made, it left me very frustrated.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger FreedomFyter said...

I just saw this film, someone is unaware of whats really going on in Palestine should not watch the movie. The pain and misery the palestinian people are going through because of the Isreali Occupation is unbareable.The movie makes Palestinians look kind of bad, the jewish mother continiously refers to the girl ayat as her daughters killer, Although she is dying to meet her parents and "create peace"...Also, Ayats parents went through hell, I doubt they wanted her to die and what she did was completley her choice..and the dog president bush said "When an 18-year-old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up, and in the process kills a 17-year-old Israeli girl," ..she was never induced..to do anything...There will never be peace until the JEWS stop murdering innocent people and when they rebuild the homes of the palestinians that they demolished,give the palestinain people PALESTINE back and stop imagining that Isreal even exsists. They also need to realease the curfews and checkpoints that block Palestinian life.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger FreedomFyter said...

Also people like Michael and incongnito or whatever are very ignorant and Michael, u sound like a murderer just by what you said..U must have no life to sit there behind a computer and reveal to everyone one what kind of person that you really are.. Your obviously a Jew and theres nothing more that can describe what you said but the fact that your a jew..Ayat and all the other suicide bombers are all victims, they are the victims of the Jews, who took everything away from them, killed their children, demolished there homes for highway purposes,live behind a huge wall that cages them in a little area and forced a curfew for them..

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Incognito said...

Freedom Fyter shows his true colours as a typical anti-semite blinded to the truth.

Truth number one... Ayat WAS Rachel's killer.
Truth number two: Ayat's mother kept repeating that it was God's will her daughter die..they celebrated her death with cookies. The mother obviously glorifies the idea of Jihad.
and there will never be peace until the PALESTINIANS stop murdering innocent Israelis FIRST.

Bottom line Freedom Fyter is you believe that Israel should not exist and you should be ashamed of yourself for thinking that way.


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