Tuesday, August 12, 2014

notes to eternity

notes to eternity is New Zealander, Sarah Cordery's documentary explaining the Zionist-Palestinian conflict and myth-busting hasbara used to delegitimise Palestinians. It focuses on the views of 4 critics of the Israeli (and American) position: 3 American academics (Noam Chomsky, Sara Roy, Norman Finkelstein) and British journalist Robert Fisk whose career has been based in the region, calling Beirut home.

Sarah Cordery says she chose the Americans because they are also Jews. It is rare to hear Jews side with Palestinians against the Jewish State. The interviews with each of them covered their childhoods and their parents experiences. Chomsky (born in 1928) is the oldest and the only one with memories of World War II and the history of Israel / Palestine since the Nakba. This digression into their backgrounds is partly to illustrate that their backgrounds were not abnormal for Jews, partly to humanise and possibly provide context for their current views and partly to tie the Zionist-Palestinian conflict to that other important event in Jewish history - the Holocaust.

For Robert Fisk the important event is World War I (which his father fought in). It redrew borders around the world especially in Eastern Europe and the former Ottoman Empire. He squarely blames the British government for making promises during the war that it failed to keep (and couldn't keep because they were contradictory).

notes to eternity (always in lower case) is a long film, listed at 150 minutes but I'm sure it was longer (I left while the credits were rolling and it was already 25 minutes beyond the 2 hour 30 minute mark). For that reason it should probably be edited or divided, Jackson-style, into multiple films. The film is largely interviews conducted in America, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. There is also current and historic footage and some cartoons (with voice overs giving realistic, in other words pessimistic, views on the future).

To people who say "we shouldn't take sides" or "they have been fighting each other for thousands of years" or "they are both as bad as each other" or "why can't the Palestinians leave the Israelis in peace", notes to eternity will be a very useful education. To someone who takes more than a casual interest in the subject there wasn't much new information. Though I was interested in Sara Roy saying that her mother chose to go to America (rather than Israel) because she thought that to be tolerant you needed to grow up in a pluralist society.

Ian's rating 2.5/5

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