Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Mohammed al-Atar’s “The Iron Wall”

Posted by worriedlebanese on 24/02/2008

theironwallb.jpgTrying to get to watch this movie was an adventure in itself. A couple of months ago, I tried to catch it’s only public screening in Paris. I had received a message from my aunt reminding me about it. Only I read it 30 minutes before the start of the projection. So I pedaled and rushed as fast as I could from the other end of the city. I had a flat tire… I couldn’t find another bicycle to swap it with… And after finally finding one and reaching my destination, I couldn’t find a terminal to park the rented bicycle… So I arrived a couple of minutes late and saw a large crowd cuing before the theater. They weren’t actually cuing. They were discussing politics, middle eastern politics. Most looked French. But I’m sure there were a couple of Lebanese, Palestinians and Israeli amongst them. The theatre was packed, but they stayed on to discuss the same topic, either hoping to be allowed in, or they were just happy to meet with like-minded people and were planning on watching another middle-eastern film programmed for the same day.  After eavesdropping for a couple of minutes, I returned home.Later that day, I learnt that a friend had bought back a DVD copy of the film from England. So i decided to borrow it from her. And so I did. I literally shelved it for weeks. But decided to watch it a couple of hours ago. I wouldn’t say I found it disappointing. It was actually rather close to what I had expected. It is a militant palestinian movie that’s main argument is against the separation wall.  What I hadn’t expected was the reaction it was going to have on me. I felt totally discouraged. The whole Israeli-Palestinian issue seemed to be totally hopeless. Strangely enough, this impression didn’t come from the film’s subject, but from it’s approach. It reminded me of Alan Dershowitz’s “A Case for Israel” in its obsession to “prove” one point right by discarding any information that doesn’t directly suit this purpose. What does Mohammed al-Atar’s expect from this film? Sympathy for the Palestinians? Antipathy towards Israel? Most of the people who are likely to see his movie already share his sentiments… As for the rest, they’re going to be surprised by his portrayal of Israel and its colonisation policies. Even though he undeniably relies on facts, people are likely to be taken aback by the way he browbeats his point. When one makes such a militant documentary, one hopes for change. If Mohammed al-Atar aims at that, I believe he’s chosen the wrong strategy.

4 Responses to “Mohammed al-Atar’s “The Iron Wall””

  1. Margaret said

    Sad to read your review. I haven’t seen it yet but we sure don’t need anything that doesn’t help create peace.

  2. Well, the situation in Palestine/Israel is very sad. I have given the film a little thought since I’ve written this post, and I’m nor sure I still agree with what I have written. I think Palestinians need to express their suffering. And that’s what Mohammed al-Atar was doing. Peace is only possible when one expresses his suffering and his recriminations.

  3. RB said

    I didn’t think it was militant…

    I’m in New Zealand and have talked to many that have seen it. For people who know nothing of the situation the film is a real eye-opener and it shocks many.

    • Hello New Zealander!

      I agree with you that it’s an interesting film and that it is quite informative. Nothing of what it shows is “fabricated” and it renders quite faithfully the feelings of many Palestinians.
      The point I was trying to make is that it’s probably too in touch with Palestinian feelings to make a good case for the Palestinians. Most people who see it have already taken a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So those who feel close to the Palestinians will be comforted in their feelings of hostility toward Israel. And they will be given good arguments to use against Israel and pro-Israel people.
      Those who feel close to Israel on the other hand will notice that nothing positive is said about Israel and that the film is actually very hostile to some of their core believes (the legitimacy of the Jewish State, the dynamism of Israeli culture and society, the morality of the IDF…). So they will be distrustful of the film and the suffering it shows. It will undoubtedly encourage them to take a firmer stand with the Israeli government (regardless of the policies it pursues)…

      This is why I believe that the film doesn’t constitute a step toward peace, but on the contrary, actively participates in the verbal dichotomous and binary struggle.

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