Monday, March 09, 2009

Waltz With Bashir

I had the chance to see Waltz With Bashir at a public/unofficial screening in Beirut. I must say at first I didn't like the movie. For me, it didn't deliver. But deliver what? What was I expecting? I wanted Ari Folman to apologize for all the massacres the Israelis have carried out against the Lebanese. And if that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed. Folman doesn't apologize, he doesn't even come close, for him the whole Israeli invasion was to support Bashir Gemayel and the Phalangists, especially during the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Some say it's true, the Israeli army didn't partake in the killing in these two Palestinian camps, however they surrounded the perimeter to hold a cover for the Lebanese militia who were getting their hands dirty. And Folman wonders how and why they stood there watching while others were carrying out murder and carnage.
And so the movie is made for you to feel with the Israeli soldier and to sympathize with his suffering and his post-traumatic experience during his invasion of another country. My country. And I can see how foreigners can appreciate the picture, I could too, once I separate my emotions and look at it as a work of art for the sole purpose of having this veteran soldier understand why he was enlisted in the army and why he was sent to kill and defend his own in this way. So yes, the movie is well made, the scene when one of the soldiers holds his MAG and starts waltzing in the middle of the crossfire is extremely powerful, and thought provoking. It doesn't help me sympathize with the Israelis however, maybe I can feel sorry for Folman as a human being, maybe I can see the irony of it all with people on both sides having their inner humanitarian side conflicting with the bigger scheme of things that makes them fight against each other, and it almost makes me want to extend my sympathy and friendship. But it doesn't. There's been too much hurting. Too much hate has built up.
I must say I welcome any individual, and having lived in New York, the city with probably the most extensive Jewish lobby in the States, I have had Jewish friends and acquaintances and we're still in touch. So no, I'm not anti-semitic, I do see the difference. I can even understand that some Israelis are suffering from this conflict too, I can see the other side of the coin, and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But this doesn't change the facts, this doesn't change the misery they've put us in, time and time again. And yes, I hate Israel. I hate the government and its army.
And to the day I'm not sure how to resolve my own personal dilemma, because those I meet, some of who are part of that same Jewish lobby that is supporting the Israeli government both financially and politically, those are good people, doing the greater good for their own countrymen. Ironically one of them, Dr. R. takes care of Israeli veterans and helps them get treated in the States, at the best institutions, to deal with any war injury they might have suffered from, whether physical or psychological.
So in the end, maybe we're all connected, maybe we should rise above these differences, but no, not yet in my case at least, these are the cards we've been dealt with, and maybe somewhere someone is laughing at all those puppets killing and hating each other while they're all one and the same. But this is not my struggle, this is not my fight. My fight is still my country, however senseless this might be. And I have learned time and time again that I can't but hate whoever hates my people. As simple as that. So Yes Israel I hate you, I hate the fact that one commander can play God and decide that "Let's bomb the hell out of Lebanon!" on a bright July morning, and so it shall be!