It’s sometimes interesting to trace finding material for a blog like this. And in the geographic permutations you get a sense of how blogging has revolutionized the dissemination of information. I noticed in my blog stats that the Lebanese blog, UrShalim had linked to my post about Fadel Shana, the Reuters cameraman killed recently by an Israeli tank shell. On the same page as my post, Bashir had linked to a post from another Lebanese blog, YaLibnan, which republished a Washington Post story about a new Israeli documentary, My First War, portraying an Israeli reservist’s dispiriting account of his service during the 2006 Lebanon war.
So we went halfway around the world to find a story published practically in my own backyard. Amazing, but of course so par for the course that almost no bloggers would find it worth noting.
The Post recounted the story of one of the first Israeli documentaries about the Lebanon War written by a reservist grunt who happened to own a film production company:
Soon after war unexpectedly broke out on the border between Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Yariv Mozer, then a 28-year-old Israeli reservist, was called up to the front. With him, he took his rifle and his video camera…
Mozer, who owns a production company in civilian life and is a munitions officer in the reserves, said he did not originally intend to make a movie when he was called up. The camera was intended more for his own peace of mind, allowing him “to separate myself from the reality of war.”
But little did Mozer realize having his camera would engage him with that reality far more than he ever could’ve realized:
As rockets rained down from Hezbollah guerrillas and as Israeli tanks furiously shot back into the distant hills, Mozer kept the camera tied around his neck with a shoelace.
He videotaped as his fellow troops scurried for cover from incoming fire, as ambulances bearing the wounded raced to the hospital, and as disenchantment grew over a misguided battle plan that left the soldiers feeling, as one tells Mozer’s camera, like “somebody fooled us.”
The result, a documentary that previewed this month, is offering Israel an unusual chance to remember a war that it would rather forget.
And that is precisely what Mozer hopes his film will not let the nation do:
…Mozer and his fellow troops received conflicting orders, inadequate protections and an inscrutable strategy. The goal was to stop the rockets, but Hezbollah’s Katyushas continued to streak across the sky throughout the war’s 33 days. Soldiers slept in the open in orchards that could turn at a moment’s notice into fields of fire. Units were ordered into Lebanon, then hastily pulled back when they encountered the enemy.
While the war was ostensibly launched to save the lives of two Israeli soldiers who had been seized by Hezbollah, the troops that Mozer encountered expressed deep hurt at the lack of care that the military’s leadership seemed to show for their lives.
“Somebody sent soldiers to die,” a weary Capt. Reuven Saadon tells Mozer from the front seat of an armored Humvee as he drives back from Lebanon. “That is the clearest thing I can say.”
The film will no doubt drive pro-Israel apologists for the war to distraction since it recounts the experience of someone who lived through it first-hand. Such documentary evidence is hard to argue with–though no doubt they will.