Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE ATTACK (2012) Under Attack

Ziad Doueiri's film, with funding from Lebanon, France, Qatar, and Belgium, was banned in every Arab country for violating a law over filming in Tel Aviv and provoked rage in some quarters for portraying Israelis sympathetically.  I'm somewhat hesitant to accept all these complaints without first considering the film first as art.
My own reaction to this film was akin to a Hitchcock or Coen Brothers film.  The story is less political and more of a noir film.  As Amin retraces the steps of his wife Siham's the last days, layers are peeled away slowly, until at the film's close, the divide is complete and his Israeli colleague reverts to objectifying him in speech, defensively cutting him off from the community.
Also, the film is one of the first to create a representation of Palestinian struggle based on nationalism as opposed to religion.  Amin is a secular doctor who no longer practices Islam and has successfully integrated himself into Israeli society as an Arab Israeli citizen, living in a luxurious house, drinking Jack Daniels whiskey, and serving as a prize-winning surgeon in an Israeli hospital.  His wife is Christian and only becomes radicalized after seeing the aftermath of a military action against Jenin.  In this sense, she has more of a sense of agency here in comparison to the main characters in PARADISE NOW, who are selected by secret ballot.  This notion of choice and independence is something very abnormal in comparison to the traditional projections of the Palestinian struggle.  For example, Alan Dershowitz has suggested a bizarre notion of Muslim women being raped and illegitimately impregnated, forcing them to choose the suicide bomb over disgracing the family's pride.  If such a proposition was not a powerful aid to bigotry and racial profiling, it would be laughable and given the same credence as cold fusion.  The fact this film is perhaps the only one to successfully differentiate the Palestinian cause as one based on national struggle as opposed to religious war makes it far too difficult to de-legitimize it because of how and where it was shot.

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