Friday, October 5, 2007

On Home and a film

The post Elly wrote about Munich made me feel a bit uneasy about my feelings towards "home", whatever it is: the motherland or fatherland or homeland.
A long time ago, I discovered I had no sentimental emotions regarding "home".

My first long voyage far from Egypt took me twelve years without feeling the slightest 'homesickness' for Egypt. Truly. I missed certain places such as a coffeehouse, a part of the river Nile, certain hours of the day, some streets and very few people. In the beginning I was worried about my 'patriotic' feelings, but gradually and secretly I was feeling relief that I had no emotional ties to many things and people I mentioned above.

That is why I was feeling uneasy about Elly's post, inspite of liking it, because she connected her feelings with an interpretation of the film, Munich
Elly wrote: "I need to know that home is there. And you may believe you are criticizing Israel in Munich, but really you are merely chastising it and underlining over and over again the reality of the homeland. It is there and you have the luxury of choosing at whim whether you like it or not. And what inexpressible relief as well as agony that gives to you!
So what about the relief of the Palestinians - will they ever have any damn relief?

But I never had this urge or feeling that I want to return 'home'. I created two homes for myself: a simple house in Amsterdam where I do not share anything with the Dutch population... No history, no schools or playgrounds, no streets which witnessed my first kiss with a girl... In addition, I have another small flat in October city, which it is a new city and has no character or even history by itself! I lived in Warsaw for five years, Baghdad four years, Beirut four years. In addition, so many years in Sudan. Some of these places I like and miss, and that is it - nothing more.

I saw the film, Munich, in Amsterdam about a year and half ago. I liked it because I felt Spielberg tried hard to be objective and say something that would not agree totally with the Jewish mainstream thinking about 'Home'. I saw the Palestinian camps in Lebanon and in Gaza; all my life I have known all sort of Palestinians - rich and poor, fighters and politicians. I saw them leaving Beirut in one of their big and contentious exoduses.

The film also gave me uneasy feeling, a sort of frustration and hopelessness.
I did not feel sorry for Avner, because he is a killer. The Black September fedayeen had a cause. They had been betrayed by the Arabs in the massacre in Jordan, and by the world since 1948, so they decided to take things into their own hands. The Israelite hajanah had killed so many Arabs before, so what Avner was doing was to continue what his culture and religion demand from him.

That is the main difference between the two sides in the film, which the director could not or would not grasp. I was looking in the film for justice, not justification. I was not looking for home or homeland because I know that both politicians and killers do not believe in them in spite of what they claim.

Still the film is a daring step. I do not believe there were innocent people in the film; they all shared certain dogmatic ideas about being righteous, and that the "others" are wrong, and that according to my book would put them in a grey area. I had a feeling the director was aiming the message of the film towards those people!

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