Go See Israel's Oscar Contender 'Foxtrot.' If Only Because Israel Is Warning You Not To

Go see this magnificent film. If only because, whether your leader is Trump or Bibi, they may one day too soon get us all killed in a war, and you need to hold your loved ones today, now

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A scene from Samuel Maoz's "Foxtrot."
A scene from Samuel Maoz's "Foxtrot."Credit: Giora Bejach/Lev Cinema and Spiro Films
Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

RECOMMENDATION 1:  Go see "Foxtrot." Go see this magnificent film, if only because Israel's spite-right minister of culture - the former IDF chief censor who refuses to see the award-winning new Israeli film herself – has told you not to.

Warned you not to. Without having seen it. And the film is Israel's nominee for the 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Minister Miri Regev condemned it as viciously anti-Israel, "disgraceful," in sum a "defamation" and a mendacious "incitement of the younger generation against the most moral army in the world."

Or, go see "Foxtrot" because a leading voice of the Israeli hard left, totally rejecting Culture Minister Miri Regev's caustic denunciations, also warned you against it.

"A lie is a lie, no matter what direction it takes," my Haaretz colleague Gideon Levy wrote earlier this month.The film, while beautiful, "poetic, symbolic and metaphorical," is deceptive and misleading,he continued, a hallucinatory embellishment of the brutal realities of occupation and the soldiers who enforce it - in sum, "propaganda, not cinema."

RECOMMENDATION 2: Go see "Foxtrot" if you believe that one side is saintly and righteous and wholly victimized, and the other composed of bloodthirsty villainous genocidal beasts.

Whichever side you happen to pick.

Go see it, but be warned that the human beings in it - frightened, repressed, explosive, suffocating, furious, smiling with apparent inappropriateness,  intentionally harming themselves, tragically harming others – are severely, congenitally damaged goods, whose heritage, whose very lives, are an unending cycle of trauma and post-trauma.

Trailer for the film Foxtrot

Both sides. [Pause for the inevitable "Yes, but – the other side is to blame because]

Go see "Foxtrot" if you sincerely believe that there's no such thing as an Israeli occupation. You're taking the easy way out, and you're dead wrong.

Or go see "Foxtrot" because you sincerely believe that Israel's is the only occupation in the world, or because you believe that the Syrian genocide pales before Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, or because you see Israeli occupiers as the Nazi SS, only wearing green rather than gray.

You're lying to yourself and to everyone in your echo chamber.

Take it from a moviegoer who occupied northern Sinai, southern Lebanon, western Gaza and the West Bank: the occupation is as alive and unwell, as destructive to Palestinians - and also to Israel and Israelis - as ever. The allegory that is "Foxtrot" is what trauma – and occupation - feel like from the inside. The pacing, for both sides, walks the edge of unbearable. The moral failings, like the blindness, are unavoidable. The rage, like the past, irreparable.

Go see it, because Samuel Maoz, who wrote and directed "Foxtrot," is the kind of person who both loves Israel and hates occupation, and both for good reason. Go see it, because Maoz, someone who is both heir and ancestor of generations of trauma, is willing to open his soul and tell you about it as no one else has.

Go see "Foxtrot" if you're one of those people who tells us we must get over the Holocaust already.

Or see "Foxtrot" because you're one of those people who sees the Holocaust in everything that happens here. Everything that is done to us, that threatens us. Or in everything we ourselves do.

When you see it, you'll understand. And you may yourself feel a particular kind of trauma, a spiked club to the core, a claustrophobia which spreads in reverse, from the inside of your body out.

Go see it because the people here, in this movie and in this land, are human beings, god damn it. Not just pawns. Not just an axe to grind. Not just proof that our side alone is right. Human beings, as the film shows with humor and also searing pain, human beings sinking into mud.

All of us occupied.

None of us survivors.

RECOMMENDATION 3: Go see it for one other reason, as well. There's war in the air. Make the effort to see "Foxtrot" if only because, whether your leader is Trump or Netanyahu, they may one day, much too soon, get us all killed in a war, and you need to hold your loved ones today, now.

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