My own review at The Forward's Arty Semite blog does not dispute the brutal facts of Israel's "Operation Cast Lead"; I am repelled by the human cost of this military action and feel nothing but compassion for the three Palestinian children depicted in the film. Still, I disagree entirely with the contempt for context displayed by the filmmaker and endorsed by the NY Times reviewer.
A brutally uncompromising blast of outrage, Vibeke Lokkeberg’s “Tears of Gaza” is less a documentary than a collage of suffering. Dropping us smack in the middle of the Israeli attacks on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, the film tramples politics beneath the raw weight of civilian testimony. Woven together, these monologues of bereavement and confusion, illustrated with images so terrible they repel rational explanation, form a tapestry of human misery that’s impossible to shake off.
.... Postcarnage interviews allow the stunned reactions of three surviving children to shape a quiet meditation on lives irretrievably altered.
Unwaveringly committed to a method that spits on context, “Tears of Gaza” forces us to ask a single, electric question: Amid this much horror, does context even matter?
The title of this particular blog post is what I had intended but was not chosen for my Forward article; there is a paragraph where I speculate on what a Martian might think if dropped into a devastated German or Japanese city after World War II, without any notion of German and Japanese atrocities. For what I assume to be stylistic reasons, the following was omitted by the editor:
Also omitted was my discovery from the film that the Arabic word for blood is the same as in Hebrew: dom.
Israel was provoked by thousands of rockets and other assaults on its territory. Yet this searing work of propaganda conveys something we need to be reminded of: the paramount need to resolve conflicts non-violently, or at least with a carefully restrained use of force that attempts to pinpoint sources of attack.
Yahya, one of three children featured
Without eliminating the attacks on Israeli towns (it has reduced them to a degree), the widespread destruction makes it harder for Gaza Palestinians to reconcile themselves to living at peace with Israel.