Monday, September 6, 2010

Avatar - the Palestinian version

A sure way to make a movie that will sell tickets is to appeal to the sense of justice.

Think of movies that you've seen that open with a scene of innocence - it might be of a happy family, someone going about their daily routine with a sense of normality, that is suddenly torn apart by some awful act.

The rest of the movie is predictable. The injured party, the one who has lost a loved one or been terribly wronged, goes after the perpetrator. Not seldom the perpetrator is at the top of some conspiracy - a government official, or high ranking member of the military or some huge corporation.

This is standard Hollywood fare. It sells because it taps the strong sense for righting wrong that is deep within every human being. Vicariously, each movie-goer gets the satisfaction of having this feeling aroused and then, often violently, put to rest.

So it is with Avatar. The difference is cosmetic. The Na'vi are on another planet, the bad guys are human, but the plot line is the same.

Now consider a movie about the Palestinians. There they are in Palestine, tending their flocks, sharing the land in peace with a minority of Jews. Outsiders arrive from Europe and start buying land, occupying territory. Move forward a few years and the Europeans and the Palestinians are fighting sporadically. A few years more and the Europeans have a state.

Ok, now remember this is a movie about the Palestinians, so we've arrived at the scene where the outrage takes place. Instead of the tree being brought down as in Avatar, the land is lost, but in both cases the good guys are evicted from their home.

The rest is ongoing history. Unlike the Na'vi, the Palestinians don't have exotic animals as allies that can win the day. Instead, money and weapons pour in on the side of their adversaries, the Israelis. Far from seeing justice done in the return of their land, the Palestinians are driven back, and back, and back even more.

Now you can see the Palestinian perspective.

The outrage, as they see it, is that they are being asked to endorse the act of horror, their loss of land. This is exactly the opposite of the satisfying movie plot line and counter to the in-built rejection of injustice that every human being possesses.

Things are so topsy-turvy that the ones who have suffered the losses must humiliate themselves and declare to the world that the wrong that was done to them is right. This is the problem with demanding a statement from Palestinians that Israel has a right to exist.

Can't you just see the characters in a movie swearing never to do this and movie-goers having a deep feeling of empathy?

Americans have since 1948 seen the Palestinians twisting and turning in their agony and trying every possible means of violent resistance, just as the protagonists in Avatar do. But, unlike Avatar, Americans are asked to condemn the Palestinians as violent monsters incapable of reason, scornful of peace with peace-loving Israel.

In short, America has sided entirely with those who took the land instead of the dispossessed! America has acted as supplier, armorer, and bank for the party that committed the crime of throwing the innocent party out.

At the moment we have the incredible scene of the oppressing party continuing to take more land and a superpower with the ability to stop it doing nothing.

The story of the Palestinians is a reversal of the plot of Avatar. Is it any wonder that the rest of the world looks at what the U.S. does with astonishment? Is it any wonder that rockets are fired into Israel from Gaza? Is it any wonder that there is a continual confrontation between IDF troops and Palestinian stone-throwers?

Americans thrilled at the resistance of the Na'vi in Avatar as they threw out the human beings who attacked and destroyed their tree-home. But the Palestinians, whose homes not only were taken but still are being taken 62 years on, are no-good, bloodthirsty terrorists who should submit to peace plans dictated by their oppressor.

Do you see the hypocrisy and how Palestinians could be consumed with rage?

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