Annat Kamm Is No Traitor, She's the Betrayed

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Anat Kamm in court.

Anat Kamm isn’t a traitor – she is the betrayed. She was betrayed not by the State of Israel, but by the left wing. She acted for its sake, and took a major risk for its moral recognition. In complete contrast to what is said about her by director Shlomi Eldar at the start of his documentary “Being Anat Kamm,” Kamm isn’t an emotionally damaged woman at all.

Her face is a living protest, and is brought to life by Eldar’s eyes and voice only. Throughout the film, Kamm shows contempt for the character of the weak Israeli leftist, the master of explanations and excuses, the righteous and approachable left-winger who fails to grow up, which Eldar volunteers to play perfectly.

Kamm reminded me of the Palestinian administrative detainee who went on a hunger strike thinking that his death would pierce the Israeli conscience. At the time, I wrote that no one would care about his death, so there was no reason to go hungry in protest. In exactly the same way, there was no reason to leak information that everyone already knew about and agreed with. Kamm fell for the myth that the left is serious.

The stops made in the film on a coast-to-coast journey to American historical sites are almost an homage to the erroneous historical comparisons that divert the Israeli left from the complex Israeli context into unresolved dilemmas that are irrelevant to it. All the errors are there to see – that Israel is America, the Palestinians are like African-Americans (or like Native Americans), that the occupation is American imperialism or a war of choice, and if it’s not the occupation, then it’s the war, and Lebanon is our Vietnam.

A particular error is a comparison that arises from an encounter in the film between Kamm and Daniel Ellsberg, now 90, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in 1971 and became a hero. As if the conflict that the Kamm affair caused was between the public’s right to know and the needs of Israeli national security. It wasn’t national security needs that prevailed over the right to know and deprived Kamm of the glory reserved for freedom fighters. It was another, unspoken right – the public’s right not to know and to continue acting as if it didn’t know.

Just like Mordechai Vanunu, who was punished for leaking nuclear secrets that everyone already knew, Kamm revealed nothing that wasn’t known to all to be happening day in and day out. Not only are Israelis aware of everything that is happening in the territories, they are the ones doing it. Everyone has served in the army or is married to the military or is a parent to it. Everyone knows that the army acts in violation of High Court rulings. Even the judges know it. It is part of our shared existence. What other leftist lies did they teach Kamm at Leyada High School?

In the end, the film is an internal leftist drama that revolves around the (failed) attempt of a political couple to overcome the man's betrayal and the abandonment of the woman to bear the consequences of her actions alone. As if leftist men bear the consequences of their actions (e.g., Haaretz journalist Uri Blau and Haaretz). As if it isn’t the job of men to protect women and children. Yes, not only to protect a journalist’s “source,” but to prevent a young woman from “falling into enemy captivity,” or, in the case of Kamm, going to jail.

It’s not by accident that Eldar draws a feminist portrait of Kamm. She wanted to be a fighter pilot, she stood up for her right to consensual sex at age 15, and she practiced shooting at a firing range. All of which means she is responsible for her actions, so she must accept the consequences. Portraying her as a feminist grants Eldar a free pass from the responsibility of men towards women. You want equality? You want to be a heroine? So why are you disappointed we didn’t come to your aid?

In the film, Eldar left himself out of the frame, as if he were saying “I’m not the story here.” But Eldar – not the man himself, but who he represents – is exactly the story. Kamm isn’t a heroine, because whoever was supposed to see her as one was too weak and too cowardly in real time – too much of a leftist.

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