There is so much chaos in Israel and Palestine right now politically and in terms of peace and violence that it is hard for those of us who know them intimately to keep it all in perspective. For today I just ask you to choose which Israel. I thought I had seen everything. Here is a scene of a senior Israel Defense Forces commander ordering a soldier to shoot at close range a bound and blindfolded Palestinian teenager who earlier can be seen waving a Palestinian flag at a demonstration.
This is filmed by a little girl from her window. Her father is subsequently arrested by the police. They can be heard in the background speaking in the film. Here is another version of the film accompanied by an official news story followed by an Israeli human rights group report. Of course, because this was caught on tape there were consequences for the family who caught it on tape, but also for the soldier. But 90% of even investigated cases have never led to prosecution of soldiers. This is the ugliness of a senseless and brutal war that has demeaned every one’s humanity.
A few miles away, in Jerusalem, and a couple of weeks before witness one of many gatherings of unqualified love, a gathering of human beings, Jews, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, secular and religious, women and men, young and old, to celebrate Jerusalem together as equals. It is called the Jerusalem Hug. Notice the young Israeli woman soldier at the center of the dancing, enraptured by the moment. Look at her uniform, then look at the other uniforms in the other film. It is the same uniform.
Among the leading participants in the film are Eliyahu Mclean and his partner Sheikh Bukhari, whose family has lived in Jerusalem for four hundred years, both of them Jerusalem peacemakers and lifelong partners. These are people who are determined to pursue a different path of equality, patience, and peace. It appears on film to be deceptively simple but turns out to be the most complicated thing any human being can do in the face of war and hatred.
You choose the film today. Which one expresses the heart of Israel, Palestine, the Holy Land? Where is that green uniform of the IDF going, a dance of life, a dance to life, or a dance of death? Where are they dancing for death and where for life? Because Palestinians and Israelis are definitely dancing together. The politics of it embodies a chaotic dance that is out of control. It is all a question of the grip of the dance partner, is it a grip of death or a grip of life?© Marc Gopin