A friend of mine, a volunteer with Mogen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross) was out on a call, I learned on Facebook. On the road, he was shot at by a band of Hamas terrorists on motorcycles. Thank God he managed to out drive them and escape unharmed with only bullet holes in his car. Now there’s an Indiana Jones story, if ever there was one. What’s more, I learned from a later post that his daughter and granddaughter successfully hid for 28 hours at their kibbutz (communal agricultural village) while terrorists tortured, murdered and kidnapped their neighbors. They finally fled to safety in their bullet-ridden car; that, in itself an amazing thing, as you could imagine what the car looked like after a 28 hour shooting and grenade assault. Arriving to safety, mother and daughter run into the loving, anxiety ridden arms of family. As the camera pans towards the car it falls into 20 pieces, a tragicomic clunk sound follows, just like in the movies.
Here’s another Indiana Jones scene from my past. In 1988, Rabbi David Forman (1945-2010) founded Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli organization dedicated to the dignity of Palestinians and Israelis. David had been my ‘uncle’ since his post-college days. I was an eight-year-old “staff- brat” and he and my father, a Jewish educator, were colleagues at a Reform Summer Camp in Indiana. Some 20 years later, he would tell me of his regular visits to Palestinian villages in the West Bank in the context of cataloging residents’ specific medical and legal hardships under military occupation. RHR brought innumerable cases to Israeli courts where they had much success chipping away at the daily harshness of West Bank life and improving the well-being of Palestinians. During one particular visit, the village leaders sensed that things were getting hot and potentially unsafe due to the presence of ‘Palestinian operatives’ they deemed unfriendly to David and his peace work. They ordered village children to form a protective ring around the Rabbi and escort him to his car, while they orchestrated his safe and quiet exit to the road back to Jerusalem. Now that’s some really compelling scene writing!
The movie script we are all living through these days contains dark, dark, very dark content. On October 7, Internationally recognized peace activist Vivian Silver, aged 74, was kidnapped by Hamas. She worked tirelessly for the health and job safety of her Gazan neighbors and for the Negev Bedouin community for over thirty years. Also murdered on that day was Hayim Katsman, aged 32, a peace activist, writer, academic and DJ who loved Arabic music. His PhD dissertation was entitled “Religious Nationalism in Israel/Palestine.” The irony that his murder came at the hand of religious-nationalist terrorists is not lost in this script.
In the days following the historic terrorist attack, the adrenaline of varying and different perspectives of Facebook was palpable. “Free Palestine”, “ What kind of nation of animals bombs Gazan children ?” to name just a few. Even Greta got into the fray, to the detriment of the Global Environmental Health community, I might add. Sadly it seems, posting “2SS NOW” ( two-state solution) is not so sexy. Much more adrenaline raising catch phrases, memes, photos and videos are needed to compete in the movie now showing.
Let it be known that I personally cannot even look at photos of the murdered and kidnapped, raped and tortured; women, babies, men and soldiers. I don’t have the constitution for that. My wife and I even walked out of the latest “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” movie this summer. Indy’s final chapter in the iconic series created fifteen years after the last release, proved to be a blooper to us! Legions of violent and gross Hollywood cinematic techniques drove us out of the theater midway.
On the contrary, just last week, we experienced a luscious, vivid, two hour diversion from our October 7 ethnic trauma watching the 2003 Korean-American romantic drama “Past Lives”. For nearly two hours, the viewer is immersed in the beautiful innocence of childhood friendship, the disorientation of immigration to foreign country, and the overcoming of emotional and romantic obstacles that arise in between. Celine Song, in her directorial debut, has written a protracted gem, devoid of bellicose adrenaline. Exquisite protagonist Greta Lee keeps you glued to every sublime breath of the story line.
Do I digress? I need to digress !! My soul cries out for no more adrenaline! No more fb memes! No more Indiana Jones scenes! But alas, my last name is Eisenstein, after all. If you haven’t realized by now, cinema is in my DNA. (Google: Sergei Eisenstein)
Which brings me back to the October 7 script; Hamas killers paraglided across the border into a music and peace festival , where they massacred 260 young people dancing under the stars. The Winged Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, high on Captagon, return as terrorists invading a desert paradise, converting it to Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell.
The only adrenaline those kids were looking for was to be found dancing and communicating love and unity in nature. Perhaps similar to what Hayim sought to create when he DJ’d. For Vivian Silver it was found on Highway 4, driving sick Gazan children from the Gaza border towards world class hospital care in Tel Aviv. My Uncle David’s infectious adrenaline emitted from a deep spiritual core which he effortlessly channelled into the pursuit of justice for Jews and Palestinians.
If I could write scenes like Celine Song, I would write the next 200 years of Israeli Palestinian history to be void of any trace of Indiana Jones adrenaline whatsoever. I would steal from her movie and pepper our joint lives with only childhood innocence, the courage to overcome foreign cultural obstacles and the inner guidance and adrenaline to write new scenes like the ones in the movie each and every day. My Eisenstein screen writing ability does gives me inner peace at times, but it won’t change the reality of the day after the Negev massacre.
A final scene:
Sixty-one-year-old former IDF security chief and leftist politician Yair Golan was awoken by WhatsApp messages early Saturday morning, October 7. He instinctively put on his general’s uniform, grabbed his son’s army boots from a storeroom and drove in his Toyota Yaris to the Negev. There, due to his intimate knowledge of the landscape, he rescued several young people hiding in the desert bush from the music festival carnage. “All those who tried to escape in vehicles on the road were shot to death,” he later told the Ynet website. “Those who survived were the ones who fled on foot into the fields, and I found them.”
This final scene has a soundtrack. Oddly enough, it’s excerpts from Don Mc Lean’s American Pie; “ And in the streets, the children screamed, the lovers cried and the poets dreamed…the day the music died.” And as the soundtrack continues, prominent Israeli peacemakers who have, for decades, dedicated their lives to bringing the two nations closer together, to the realization of two states, not fb memes, are now either dead, captive or wearing uniforms.