MaSpeak

Enough!- Another Israeli-American Says No to Zionism

Passover and Miral

with one comment

I boiled some eggs this afternoon, not because I’m religious, but I just really like hard boiled eggs.  As a kid when I’d go to Seder’s at my Safta’s house, I would pretty much pass on everything on the Seder plate except Matzo and hard boiled eggs (oh and that kid-friendly wine stuff). Being a vegetarian, I considered those the best parts. My dad emailed me today to wish me a happy Passover. He’s in Haifa tonight, at Safta’s- I didn’t ask whether they’d be having a Seder tonight. Since my aunt’s death and the “Yerida” of my mom, my siblings and I, there aren’t many left for family holidays. I wrote to my dad that Wyn and I would symbolically eat some eggs and asked whether celery would suffice as a substitute for something (Maror? Carpas? I could never remember the difference).  He asked that I pick up some Matzos too which I still need to do.

In honor of Passover I went to see Miral. Yes- I had heard some negative things about the film, about it being too “Hollywood” but I still wanted to see it- so that when the statistics come back and it’s labeled a “tanked” film, at least I can say that I tried.   It wasn’t a crowded theater, but it wasn’t empty either. I tried to size up the audience as I sat down before it got dark- who here was Palestinian, who was clueless and who was here to prove this movie wrong. I even brought a notebook with me and thought I’d use it to take notes. When it got dark I realized that wouldn’t be happening. Preview after commercial passed till the point where I found myself forgetting what I was there to watch, and then a map appears and familiar names appear with it  “Mt. Hermon” “Ramallah” “Jerusalem”.

The narrative begins in 1947, with a Christmas party attended by Hind Husseini. Shortly thereafter she finds and takes home a group of 55 surviving orphans from the Deir Yassin massacre and founds the Dar al-Tifl school.  Then footage of the Declaration of Israeli Independence at the United Nations appears. Then footage of the 1948 war. Real footage. Not “Hollywood: footage. And I’m emotional. I suddenly realize how badly I want to be back there and I imagine that there are people in this theater who want to go back there too and cannot.

As far as the disjointedness of the film, I get peoples’ complaints. Beginning in 48, we then transition to 67, then the First Intifada as we transition between protagonists- the headmistress of an orphanage, a troubled young mother, a head nurse turned prisoner serving three life sentences for attempting to blow up a movie theater and finally Miral, a 17 year old Dar al-Tifl student who is trying to understand what her role is within the larger context of Palestinian resistance to the occupation.  So yes, we transition between different time periods, different characters, and different plots- but I think that’s the way most films based on biographies end up- sometimes a life story is better suited to being condensed into a book than a film.

Do I think this movie will do well financially? No. Will it win any awards this next year? Probably not. Will Zionists watch this movie and have a change of heart, and recognize Palestinians as individuals with histories, families and aspirations for education, statehood and self-governance? Not likely. But here’s the issue- in the theater today there were some people who didn’t know what to expect. It was a Sunday evening and they felt like seeing a movie and either this one piqued their interest, or they just missed the movie they wanted to see, or they like Freida Pinto in Slumdog and ended up seeing Miral. They sat in the theater where Miral played and for approximately two hours they heard something different. They saw images of narratives that are so well obscured in American education that they could very well be shocking to some viewers.  They might have learned that many Palestinian children were orphaned and that Palestinians are subjected to night raids, torture, and are often killed while protesting. Maybe they learned that there are Christian and Muslim Palestinians and that they are united in their same struggle against Jewish occupation. Perhaps there were some viewers who until Miral didn’t know who the Palestinians are. Well, now they know- a little.

Wyn and I discussed our impressions of the film on the walk home and while we both agreed that this was not a fantastic film, we were glad we had seen it. When we got home Wyn stepped outside to smoke a cigarette on the porch and I opened the fridge. Unceremoniously, I removed one hard-boiled egg and ate it quietly with my hands in the kitchen. To remember the hard times in Egypt. To remember the hard times in Gaza, and in Jenin and in Deheisha and in Haifa.

Ma Nishtana Haleila Haze?

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Written by Keren Carmeli

April 18, 2011 at 12:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I haven’t seen the film, but I can imagine that the benefit of it is, as you say, the fact that it at least introduces an American audience to some historical facts they otherwise would never have known. From this beginning, maybe they’ll start to pay more attention and come to the realization that “something is rotten in “Israel”.

    Pat Carmeli

    April 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm


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