A Line of Who — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

Dani turned his transistor on even though a gale from the north was banging on the Perspex windows of the guard post like the ghost of Keith Moon on storm-cloud percussion. The rays of the sun setting over an unseen Mediterranean occasionally broke through, outlining in deep orange the umbras of clouds lying just below and just above the nearby peak of Jebel Baruk. A ray caught the wind-ragged, frost-crusted Israeli flag as if to say that the outpost and its soldiers, so far from home, were trapped between the empyrean above and the hell of the war below. Setting the radio down on the metal ledge on which the MAG was mounted, he glanced over at Adam. Somehow, between the drumming of the sky and the drumming of the Lebanese progressive rock station, he heard that his companion for the coming six-hour shift was crying.

illustration by Avi Katz
illustration by Avi Katz
Considering his response, he unbuckled his vest so that he could settle comfortably into the high chair from which he was to survey the inscrutable landscape for alpine attackers.

Adam spoke.

“What was that?” Dani shouted over the pandemonium.

“It’s against the rules. Taking off your vest.” A shrieking squall filtered out whatever emotion there might have been in Adam’s voice.

“So’s the radio,” Adam went on. “Turn it off.” And then Dani thought he heard a choking sound, although he couldn’t be sure.

Read moreA Line of Who — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Waltz With Unbearable Memory

Following Haim’s recommendation, I went to see Ari Folman’s documentary, “Waltz With Bashir,” on the 1982 Lebanon War and the Sabra and Shatilla massacre.

Haim is right that every Israeli should see “Waltz.” But so should anyone elsewhere whose country has marched thoughtlessly into war, or for that matter, anyone interested in the art of film. My article about the movie is now up at the American Prospect. Snippets:

Virtually the entire film is presented in film-noir animation. Folman thereby bends the boundaries of his genre (even more than the recent, partially animated “Chicago 10” did). “Waltz” may be to the documentary what Art Spiegelman’s Maus was to the novel. Strangely, animation makes the film less fictional. Not restricted to old footage, Folman can portray scenes that no one photographed, just as a historian can recreate the past with the written word…

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Olmert Agonistes

Clueless in Gaza, at the till, with the knaves. It’s over. Olmert has to go.

I never voted for Ehud Olmert or for any party he’s been a member of. But I admit to having a soft spot for him. Years ago, when I went out to run each morning at 5 a.m., I’d sometimes cross paths with him as he jogged through Baka and the German Colony. He was polite and intelligent, and there was an air of detachment, self-irony, that appealed to me. When he was mayor, he helped my community, Kehilat Yedidya, get a piece of land and a major donor for our synagogue building. I was impressed by his willingness a few years back to cast off his previous commitment to Greater Israel and to advocate for accommodation and compromise with the Palestinians.

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