Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Different War

This is a short film I saw several months ago. It has stayed with me. It is in Hebrew and is about a young Israeli boy and his relationship with his brother. The brother is very macho and has bought into the whole "Palestinians are bad" mentality. The young boy is very different, though. He has a hard time because his brother and his brother's friends taunt him because he is so different. They demand that he get up on the wall separating Israel and Palestine and shout insults at the Palestinians, the goal being not to get shot. Somehow this was supposed to prove their "machoness." All of the other boys do it, but the young boy is different. He is obviously gay, even though he is still quite young. He doesn't and can't fit in with the other boys. He wants to play the female lead in the school play, which ends in the other boys teasing him and chasing him to the wall, where his brother demands that he go up and taunt the Palestinians. The boy climbs to the top of the wall, and they last scene of the movie is of him doing ballet on the top of the wall. It is absolutely breath-taking. This scene has haunted me and moved me for months.

I just got done teaching Naomi Shihab Nye's 19 Varieties of Gazelle to my poetry class. This is another book that stresses peace and individuality but in a very different way than A Different War did. I had my students read several of the poems out loud in class, and we talked about how Nye stresses peace by showing real people. How can war continue is we can see our enemies as real people? I don't know if my students got the message. I sometimes felt as though they were reading a very different book than I was, but they read it nonetheless. Perhaps someday they will look back and see real people in those who are so different than they are. Perhaps they too will someday be able to dance instead of dodge bullets.

No comments: