Speaking of Movies…

The Attack (الصدمة) is a Lebanese film made by popular director Ziad Doueiri (West Beirut, Lila Says).

Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Arab surgeon who lives with his wife in Tel Aviv, Israel and makes a seemingly comfortable livelihood as a surgeon. A sudden and devastating suicide bombing in a restaurant leaves seventeen people dead–including eleven children. In the midst of the chaos, Dr. Jaafari is summoned to the morgue where a horrible discovery viciously turns his life upside-down: His wife was the bomber.

Fascinating, right? It’s based off a novel of the same title, by Algerian author Yasmina Khadra. The fact such a plot is told from the point of view of a Lebanese director (especially one who has made great strides in his field) is a breath of fresh air. Doubtless, he would bring something far more different to the table than anyone you could think of in Hollywood. I’m not sure what other people would believe, but I think this is a film worth giving a good and fair chance to view.

Except it’s banned in Lebanon—the very home country of the director himself. Oh yes. Because it was shot in Israel and employed Israeli actors.

Never mind the actors were Israeli-Arabs. Apparently the ban is in place thanks to the Arab League’s boycott of “Israeli companies and goods”. What’s funny is this:

While a number of the 22 Arab League member states have peace treaties with Israel, other countries circumvent the different boycott levels by circumventing the rules and trading goods via third-party countries such as Cyprus…The irony of course is that Doueiri’s latest film is a nuanced exploration of identity among Israeli Arabs. In one of the film’s more memorable moments, for instance, as the secular, assimilated Dr. Jaafari is tearing down “martyrdom” posters of his late wife in the West Bank, a voice-over taunts him, “The bastard isn’t the man who doesn’t know his father. It’s the one who doesn’t know his roots.”


I will not pretend to be adequately knowledgeable about the ins and outs of Israeli-Lebanese relations, and what constitutes a product worth boycotting versus something that isn’t…but this is a Lebanese director telling an Arab story that is based in Israel. It has the potential (I haven’t seen it yet, of course) to explore the many intricacies of identity in a sensitive, complex and highly volatile area of the world.

And yet it’s banned, even with the Lebanese name at the helm of the project. Where is the sense in that?


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