On 27 December 2008 over 200 Palestinians were killed and 800 injured as Israel rained missiles on the highly populated Gaza strip. The aerial slaughter is the latest horror in Israel’s 60 year occupation of Palestine.
The sheer scale of Palestinian suffering relayed in the media has a numbing effect.
Art can sometimes speak more forcefully than a million news stories. Waltz with Bashir does that. This new Israeli movie tells one part of Israel’s bloody history and is getting glowing reviews around the world.
Director Ari Folman is an award winning Israeli documentary maker. When a friend comes to him with a disturbing reoccurring dream about the 1982 war in Lebanon Ari confronts his own complete amnesia. He knows he was there, but has no memory of his time as a 19 year old conscript.
When Israel was founded 110,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation formed base camps in the south of Lebanon and carried on a guerrilla war against Israel from across the border. Israel’s invasion in 1982 was a bliztkrieg lasting 10 weeks in which 18,000 Lebanese were killed and nearly 700 Israeli soldiers. The PLO was forced to withdraw to Tunisia, while Israel occupied the south of Lebanon until 1985. During the invasion Bashir Gemayel - the new pro-Israel President of Lebanon – was assassinated. His supporters, Lebanese Christian Phalangists, carried out a massacre in two Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. The Phalangists were let into the camps by Israeli forces, and were assisted by them lighting flares through the night. Hundreds, maybe thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Ari seeks out old army comrades in order to reconstruct his lost memory. It is a surreal personal and political journey told strikingly through graphic animation. This lifts the documentary into another realm.
Waltz with Bashir leaves an impression you won’t forget.
- Daphna Whitmore