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Nicole Meged

Nicole Meged's Movie Review of The Attack

by Nicole Meged, August 27, 2013

Amin Jaafari is a top Arab-Israeli doctor, who is exquisitely played by Ali Suliman, in the film “The Attack”. Living a privileged life in one of Israel’s most prosperous cities Herzliya , Amin is accepted and well-recognized in Israeli society and lives alongside his beloved and alleged satisfied wife, Sihem – a Christian Arab. Life is peaceful and pleasant for Amin until a bomb is detonated in a suicide attack in one of Tel Aviv’s busiest areas. Appalled by this act of terror as the wounded and murdered are moved into his emergency room, Amin is abruptly jolted from his reality, as he is told that evidence shows that it may be his own wife who was the suicide bomber. It seems that this may be the rarest and most unlikely situation. Why would a Christian born Arab woman take part in Islamic Jihad (holy war) – especially a woman who is well integrated in Israeli society, alongside many Jewish people?  Deep in denial, grief and confusion, Amin sets off into Palestinian territory, searching for answers and the truth about his wife’s reasoning.

From an objective perspective, this film was very well done. I was engaged and kept interested throughout it, and was particularly impressed by the selection of actors and the authenticity of their performances. Furthermore, unlike other works of media focused on the Middle East, “The Attack” was filmed in the actual locations that it was meant to be set in – Tel Aviv and Nablus something that I later discovered was also particularly important to the director, Ziad Doueiri.  “The Attack” refreshingly demonstrated the notion of “balance”. There were not moments in the film where I saw traces of the director’s bias, or pro-Israel versus anti-Palestinian, which is something that is rare in today’s films, articles, and news stories regarding conflicts in the Middle East. That being said, in the film there is mention of what Palestinians would refer to as the “Jenin Massacre”, an occurrence in 2002 where it was said that thousands of Palestinians were murdered by the Israeli army during a six week search to locate individuals who were behind terrorist attacks. Weeks later, the United Nations reported that a massacre did not take place, and that these reports by Palestinian leaders were propaganda. It is unknown whether the director, Ziad Doueiri believes that a massacre did occur in Jenin, or if the mention of it in the film is exclusively a part of the fictional character.

On a personal note, as someone who is a lover and avid supporter of Israel and its people, I cannot say that it was not difficult to watch the scenes in which several Israeli soldiers are shown harshly forcing Palestinian civilians from their cars on the borders of the West Bank, as well as the slightly insulting interrogation by an Israeli police investigator to Amin, following the discovery of his wife’s crime. Whether or not these arrays of actions are a true reflection of the demeanor of Israelis’ in authority, is unknown to me. However, even days after viewing this film, I find myself profoundly denying this portrayal of Israelis that I saw in the film. Growing up as a child, I constantly wondered how anyone could believe that Israel is “the bad one”, and I never wanted to hear anything that could possibly make it difficult for me to defend Israel. Therefore, “The Attack” brought up much confusion for me personally. As a student of Political Science this happens to me constantly in my classes. Many people are anti-Israel and some are ignorant to the details and history of the Middle East conflict. I questioned how I could possibly explain the representation of Israelis in this film, and whether or not it is an accurate portrayal. I’m certain that many other Jews and Israelis throughout the world are faced with similar situations – for instance, when confronted with a photo of an Israeli soldier who seems to be pointing a gun at a Palestinian child, or questioned about what many refer to as the Israeli occupation.  In the film, when Amin enters a church in Nablus, he is astonished when he is faced with an Arab priest, his wife’s mentor in the carrying out of her attack. Surprisingly, I found that the audience neglected to grasp and understand this moment. Whether or not this is an unrealistic or unlikely angle, I believe that the film offers insight into the concept that perhaps such a long, complicated history and present cannot be viewed through a “black and white” mentality, but that in fact much of it is truly grey area. A person’s actions and beliefs are not a direct result of the nationality they identity with – in this case as a Christian Arab, Israeli Arab, Jew, or Muslim.

 I believe “The Attack” is worth being seen by all of those who have some personal tie to the Arab Israeli conflict. Unfortunately, it was recently announced that the film has been banned in the Arab world, due to its portrayal of Israelis and “that the mere idea of balance was a betrayal” says Ziad Doueiri, who also added in an interview that, “they said the fact that the film was balanced made it unfair because it put the oppressor and the oppressed on the same level.”


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