This afternoon, I attended a special screening of the 1960 movie, Exodus with my father and good friend, S.
The occasion was to commemorate the the sixtieth anniversary of the original boat's journey to Pre-State Palestine (i.e the Exodus 1947). I had never seen the movie in the cinema (although I own it on DVD) and so really didn't want to miss the opportunity of seeing this classic on the big screen.
It is hard to watch a movie like Exodus without relating it's story to present moment. I approached the screening with a certain degree of trepidation, if only because I wondered how dated the movie would seem, in other words, out of touch with current events.
To my surprise, it hasn't dated at all. If anything, its sad message is more relevant now than it was forty-seven years ago.
Exodus doesn't pretend to be anything other than a record of the founding of the State of Israel. It shows how the Jews really had nowhere else to go after the Holocaust and how the indigenous population weren't all evil (e.g. the character of Tala, a Sheikh who had grown up alongside Ari (Paul Newman)).
The main characters all talk about wanting to live peacefully with their neighbours, yet, tragically, we know how the story ends (and indeed, continues to this present day). The arguments put forward by both the Arabs and the British (who understandably come out in a very poor light) in the movie are the very same used today.
Both groups question our right to the land and dismiss any legitimacy that we have to re-settling the land. However, the most interesting point to me was that the movie was made before 1967, before Israel had re-claimed Jerusalem and the other areas and yet, the arguments put forward are still being heard today.
In the past, I had doubts as to whether those people who were vehemently anti-Zionist were indeed anti-Semitic. As time goes on and the well-worn arguments are hurled at us, time and time again, I am sadly coming to the conclusion that people who have a serious problem with our return to our land also have issues in general with us. After all, why shouldn't we be allowed to have a country of our own? The Arabs have 22.
Yes, the Palestinians have had a rough deal, but I'm afraid that I blame the situation more on them than on us. If they had really wanted to make peace, they could have done so, years ago. As I watch the news footage of rockets flying out of Gaza, (which we completely evacuated two years ago) slamming in Sderot, I seriously doubt whether there is any intention whatsoever on their part to accept our presence in any part of the land.
There are some Tala's out there, but I guess, they too are being hung out to dry, whilst their brethren are doing everything they can to destroy any vestiges of peace or reconciliation with their cousins.
Exodus was made forty-seven years ago. I pray that it's message will have a sweeter outcome in another forty-seven years from now.