Bitter Lemon trees
Posted by worriedlebanese on 16/06/2008
If the title song doesn’t send U screaming out of the theater (luckily, my feet were aching), I’m sure U’ll find Eran Riklis last movie enjoyable and thought provoking (in a subtle way). Sure, the story has been told, but Riklis does it a bit differently. He doesn’t do the whole work for you. He offers all the elements – most of them we are familiar with – and it’s up to us to put them together.
What he shows are two societies trapped in their mental systems: the Palestinians in their informal “intifada” mentality, the Israelis in their institutional “security obsessed” framework. Both societies speak different languages; and it’s not just about Hebrew versus Arabic, it goes deeper… it’s about institutional versus emotional, consumeristic versus economical survival, jewish-centric versus palestinian-centric…
This “linguistic” clash clearly comes across in the courtroom… the woman’s lawyer brings in a witness who tries to translate what he considers to be “key sentences” from Arabic to Hebrew. His language is poetic, he is appealing to the judge’s humanity. But the judge doesn’t hear him. She listens to the military lawyer’s arguments. They are factual, grounded in law, grounded in a law that allows the military complete powers on security matters, powers that even the Minister of the Interior doesn’t question. The Lemon tree are a security issue. But instead of uprooting the trees, as the military has decided, she decides it’s enough to trim them down to bonzaïs.
This argument is similar to the one given by the Higher Court concerning the Wall. The Higher Court doesn’t question the opportunity of building a “security fence”/”separation wall” between the Palestinians from one side and the Israeli and Jewish settler population from another… It doesn’t try to balance short term “security” issues with humanitarian principles. It only tries to limit the “shocking” aspects of the israeli policy and its consequences.