Friday, August 16, 2002

My final night in Italy (Monday), the RAI network broadcast a documentary (filmed mostly in April I think) on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. I saw plenty of familiar places, and various Israelis with Italian (which I don't understand) dubbed on top.

They showed a large right-wing demonstration from Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv and spoke to the young, religious demonstrators.

Then they went to Kikar Paris in Jerusalem and showed the 15-35 person "Women in Black" demonstration that happens every Friday (filmed from low down, with the camera pointing upwards at the women with their "enough to the occupation" signs). Then they showed the 3 person pro-Kahane counterdemonstration. They didn't show the nearby Cafe Moment - presumably it hadn't yet been bombed at the time of the filming.

At that point they seemed to say: "that's Jerusalem, people in Tel Aviv are different". They cut to a Tel Aviv disco and then talk to a few young people outside. Extensive comments by novelist A. B. Yehoshua. Scene of a Palestinian lifting up is shirt (to show he has no explosives) at the Kalandia checkpoint, and then scenes of driving in a truck with a middle class Palestinian. Extensive comments from Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein.

I was impressed that the documentary seemed calm and measured - the images represent part of the actual experience here.

But I saw only the Israelis from the marginal extremes of the right and left. A. B. Yehoshua is a respected novelist, but as a pundit he's quirky and likes to be controversial. The Kikar Paris demonstrators aren't representative of the typical Israeli who is likely to vote for Labor, Likud, or the Russian party. And while there is a Palestinian middle class, it is much less influential than other groups eg. descendents of refugees, Muslim radicals. So if they were trying to show what Palestinians and Israelis are really thinking, they probably missed their mark.

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