Videos: Akiva Orr & Arna’s Children

by R.S.

Here a couple of tidbits I’ve watched recently:

Akiva Orr

An interview with Akiva Orr, one of the founders of the revolutionary organisation Matzpen, by Joseph Dana and Max Blumenthal (Orr is such a wonderful/animated/fascinating/ranting speaker that to call it an interview might be a stretch). Orr was born in 1930’s Berlin and has lived the entirety of Israel’s existence. He speaks here about his childhood, his own trajectory of left wing politics, struggling alongside Palestinians, Israel’s wars, and a whole lot more.

Juliano Mer-Khamis

LaMarcus Jastrow wrote up a short piece on Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Jewish Palestinian gentleman who was murdered a few days ago. I’m reproducing Jastrow’s piece here because it seems a shame to cut it down:

As many of you may know, filmmaker, actor and cultural activist Juliano Mer-Khamis has been murdered by a masked gunman in Jenin. Born to an Israeli Jewish mother and a Palestinian Christian father, he dedicated his life to running his “Freedom Theater” for Jenin’s youth and their communities. Reb Mer-Khamis, who served in the IDF and played various roles in the very center of Israeli cinema, was a Jewish Palestinian. Refusing to accept this as an impossibility, Mer Khamis transcended identities and did tremendous amounts of good. A baal-khaloymes and a baal-khesed, Mer-Khamis floored me when I met him briefly some years ago. In his documentary “Arna’s Children” Mer-Khamis films his students during rehearsals from 1989 to 1996. He then goes back years later to see what happened to them. Yussef committed a suicide attack in Hadera in 2001, Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin, Alla leads a resistance group. Juliano, who today is one of the leading actors in the region, looks back in time in Jenin, trying to understand the choices made by the children he loved and worked with.

I watched Arna’s Children the other night after I read Jastrow’s piece. What I found hardest was some of the violence that had become such a part of the children’s lives: their experiences of a violent world; their attempts to make sense of trauma; their mimicry of violent behaviour. But in the film – in the intimacy of children playing and in the solidarity shown – there is also beauty. But yeah, it breaks your heart.

Arna’s Children:

warning: This video contains graphic depictions of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Hat tip Antony Loewenstein for the Akiva Orr video; and Jewschool – whose blog post I pretty much just ripped off.