Waltz with Bashir

Since the censorship board of Lebanon’s Security Directorate bans public screenings of Israeli movies, UNAM officials called the screening “private.”  “The subject of this film is a crucial moment in the history of Lebanon, for the history of Israel, for the history of the Palestinians, and for the history of Palestinian life in Lebanon,” UMAM founder Monika Borgmann told Haaretz.  “At some point every state must deal with its violent past and the sooner it does so the better. That’s why I think this movie should be shown,” she said. “Yesterday, my phone didn’t stop ringing…everyone wants a copy of the film,” she said. “I think it comes out on DVD in March. The next day, it’s going to be pirated all over Lebanon.”

Tomdispatch.com is publishing excerpts from the graphic novel accompanying the animated movie ‘Waltz with Bashir’. Two were published yesterday, two more will follow next Saturday. The film romanticises what the Israelis call ‘the (first) Lebanese war’, although it should more correctly be called ‘the nth Israeli war’, of course. It is written by an Israeli soldier who fought in that war and witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre ‘from a hundred yards away’. The first excerpts are quite disappointing, as they concentrate – predictably – on the ‘troubled conscience’ of the invaders and murderers, who are portrayed as individuals with personalities, dreams, nightmares and histories, while the Palestinians and Lebanese (in this excerpt at least) remain anonymous speechless masses or dead bodies forming no more than a backdrop for the main actors. In that sense, there is nothing revolutionary or new about it. Our media show us the Middle East from that perspective every day, dehumanizing the victims and lamenting the ‘anguish’ of the victimisers. Ah well, there had to be a reason why the film got so many oscars and Israeli academy awards… Notice how Haaretz (or Borgmann?) suggests, in the above quote, that the state which has to deal with its violent past is not Israel but only Lebanon… Meanwhile we have moved one ‘Lebanese’ and several ‘Palestinian’ wars on, and no doubt in 20 years some Israeli will start to feel pangs of conscience about the current slaughters too – and find a way to spin money and fame out of them. We’ll keep you updated.

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