Monday’s Suggestion

In Matt, Monday's Suggestion on October 4, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , ,

Arna’s Children– a documentary about a group of Palestinian boys from Jenin, a refugee town in the West Bank, who grow up to become terrorists and rebels revolting against Israeli occupation.

This statement is of conjecture, so you may or may not agree with it, but the most persistent POV on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in America at least, is that they’ve been fighting each other since Jacob tricked Esau (that’s the story of Isaac [Abraham’s first son, the one whom Gabriel saved from slaughter] who, old and blind and waiting to give away his final blessing to Esau before he died, accidentally gave his blessing to Jacob since Jacob was impersonating his older brother with sheep’s wool strapped around his arms [at the prodding of his mother, Rebekah] while poor, unsuspecting, hirsute Esau was out just filling an honest days work hunting for food for dinner) and it’s never going to change. Whether or not this is valid is really subject to debate, despite the assuredness of people who state it flatly and tend to be the only voice because the complexity of the subject seems to throw weights on to anyone who would assemble a more complex take. And it also seems mainstream news media, although they cover the conflict extensively, provide little (if more than a noticeable absence of) perspective on it, which is probably a function of the media’s general mild anterograde amnesia.

A documentary can say and show things that other art or information media can’t, simply because of its format. It can present a very deep look into a subject, but one that will also be very narrow, like a periscope. Arna’s Children does not provide insight into the politics or broad issues (only very personal issues and only a fraction of them, at that) surrounding the ongoing violence, nor does it educate on the leaders like Arafat, Abbas, Netanyahu, Ehud, Fatah, Hammas, etc., nor air anything of the Israelis. It does portray the rationale of Palestinian revolt, violent and non-violent. It follows the lives of a group of violent rebels and terrorists who grew up together, as well as those who did not join any violent resistance, with footage from childhood.

At times it’s hard to believe; the fact that the producers had footage of one of the leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin as a child, years before his death and the production of the film, sitting on the rubble of his home after it was destroyed, with a lost, grasping, scattered gaze in his eyes, staring off into the distance, in what could possibly be the originating moment in his pre-rebel development. It’s not the violence that makes it hard to believe, but the wholeness and clarity of the story.

If you don’t have time to sit down and watch it straight through, maybe try watching it in pieces. It’s separated into nine, ten minute chunks as well on YouTube, which is linked below. You can start watching one a day and stretch it out over the week. If it sucks you in, you can double up over the weekend and finish it up in enough time for next week’s suggestion.


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