"Haaretz" newspaper, 12.11.2002
Muhammad Bahri's documentary film called
Jenin, Jenin focuses on Jenin's destroyed houses and
the Palestinians' oral testimony. This is just one aspect
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nonetheless, everybody
writing on the subject agrees on the importance of this film
as a part of the dialogue between the two parties - and this
agreement really riles me. Reality being that the Israeli
society suffers from constant terror against civilian population,
the brunt of this dialogue - at least in Israel - should be
conducted from our point of view.
The media noise around this movie is the
opposite of a muted reaction to Empty Rooms, a documentary
dedicated to 21 young people who died in the Dolphinarium
disco, a film financed by the Michael Cherney Foundation to
aid terror victims. The film shows the empty space left behind
by the dead children - a space that cannot be re-filled. The
film, made by a Dutch director Willy Lindwer, received a warm
reception at the Denver International Film Festival and at
the Los Angeles Jewish Film Week, and has already been selected
for several other festivals - it has proven to be able to
touch people's hearts anywhere in the world. This film is
important in explaining Israel's image abroad - yet it is
unknown in this country.
Bahri shows the destroyed Jenin. No one doubts
that the victims of war are real, and no one should fault
the Israeli media for airing this point of view. On the other
hand, we cannot forget the empty rooms and the parents who
are still unable to cope with their pain.
Suffering is not confined to one side. The
deaths of Palestinians are a consequence of military action.
Israeli citizens, on the other hand, die in their own country
only because of what they are - Israelis. Their deaths are
the consequence of terror and crimes that need to be denounced.
One cannot forgive the murder of children.
As an Israeli citizen, I am pained to see the pain of the
parents who are trying to cope with the death of their children
- and then to witness the trend of the Israeli public to forget
In Jenin, Jenin, a witness says, "You
can give birth to children, you can build a house, you can
even get a new wife - but you can't change our feelings."
Empty Rooms reflects the Israeli position: nothing
will cure the pain of losing a child.
We must not lose sight of the value of human
life. Therefore, we must do everything to prevent the acts
of terror from cutting short the innocent lives. In Jenin,
they remember that; but in Israel they sometimes forget.
the Executive Director
of the Cherney Fund
for helping terror victims