This post comes under the heading of “Chutzpah.” Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, as anyone who follows the Oscar race knows, had their film, 5 Broken Cameras nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Film. Though they didn’t win, the attention drawn to the project has turned it into a cause celebre. There have been screenings around the world, the film will be internationally distributed and seen by hundreds of thousands, if not millions. As a result, the campaign against the Separation Wall generally, and the injustice done to the village of Bilin in particular, will be introduced to an entirely new audience.
This has the Israeli nationalist right in a fury, including the soldiers whose images and actions are shown in the film. Israeli TV news filmed an extraordinary 21 minute segment offering these soldiers a huge amount of time to air their grievances. Their claims were far from convincing. They claim, first of all, that the film was a fake because it “took things out of context.” For example, the fact that the same Palestinian protesters are shown in a single scene wearing different clothing (indicating the different footage was edited together from different dates) is supposed to prove a nefarious plot to falsify a narrative. They make a major to-do also out of the fact that the same soldiers are wearing different uniforms in footage that is edited together.
Repeatedly, the soldiers complain that their images were appropriated by the filmmakers without their consent or input. The fact that they appear in the film disturbs them deeply. They feel that they should at least have been given an opportunity to have input into how they were presented. This perspective misunderstands the point of a documentary. It is not a historical document. Not meant to present an objective picture of reality. Not meant to include the perspective of killer and victim. The killers in this instance have the machinery of an entire state behind them. They have a PR machine pumping out apologias for their actions.
What do the victims have? They have the moral support of the world and a bunch of cameras supplied by insurgent Israeli NGOs like B’Tselem. These soldiers who have blood on their hands want us to feel sorry for them, to think of them as victims. This is a monstrous deception in which the news segment collaborates.
It makes a point of presenting the soldiers in the most favorable light. They wear their civilian clothing. They drive together in a family car to Bilin as if they’re on their way to a family outing or reunion. There are no shots of them in uniform. They are clearly putting their best foot forward. None of them discuss the level of violence that they unleash on Palestinians. The only talk of violence involves Palestinian rock throwers and the terror it supposedly unleashes in the soldiers. There isn’t a single word about the maimings and killings that these soldiers and their buddies have inflicted on the people of Bilin.
This report has whitewashed Bilin and the Separation Wall. It specifically notes that the soldiers are not the ones who decided where to place the Wall. Yet they bear the brunt of the fury of the Palestinians. The soldiers have no agency. They are the poor slobs sent to do Sharon’s dirty work. Yet it is these poor slobs who killed Bassem Abu Rahma and his sister Jawaher. Not a word about the victims. The real victims. Not a word about the Separation Wall stealing their land. Not a word about the international legal judgments finding that the Wall is illegal.
I’m sorry to say that Raviv Drucker, who has produced otherwise excellent investigative work on scandals involving Bibi Netanyahu, takes a snide, dismissive tone toward the film. Drucker’s performance here is not just objectionable, it’s snide and condescending. Does he think that any slob can get an Oscar nomination? He might do better to examine why it is the world is acclaiming the film. Instead, the attitude is: “Of course these are our boys in the IDF. We’re not going to let some Palestinian cry-baby tear them down.”
Finally, the report notes that a IDF advocacy NGO, Consensus, has asked the Israeli attorney general to investigate Davidi for incitement. Thanks to a message from Davidi himself I’ve discovered that he’s the only party they can sue. As a Palestinian, they can’t sue Burnat. The soldiers themselves are contemplating a civil suit for “damages.”
If that’s what these jackasses want, then let’s have an investigation. Also, let’s have an investigation into their background instead of the sham that this report was. For example, why doesn’t Channel 10 note that Pavel Guliak’s social media pages contain a wealth of bilious, racist ranting against Arabs? Is this the best they could do?