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Decency without Hope

In The New York Review of Books David Shulman publishes an essay about the 2013 Palestinian film Omar.

“Toward the end of Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad’s powerful new film, Omar, short-listed for the Oscar in the “best foreign language film” category, the eponymous hero (played by Adam Bakri) says to Nadia (Leem Lubany), the woman he has loved and lost: “We have all believed the unbelievable.” The impossible backdrop to their love is the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank; and indeed there is much that is unbelievable about this occupation and the reality it has created and maintained for nearly half a century.

It is hard to fathom how the Israelis themselves can stand to live with the ongoing misery and cruelty they have inflicted, and it’s not so easy to understand how the rest of the world has let them get away with it. Then there is the shadowy space of infinite suspicion and distrust that the occupation naturally breeds among those who live under or in it. Is it possible to believe that your closest friend has sold out, has betrayed you to your common enemy, has bartered your life for his (perhaps to escape an arbitrary life-sentence in prison from a military court, as in Omar’s case)? Is it possible to believe that he hasn’t?”

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