New ‘NYT’ correspondent embraces goal of ‘sensitively portray[ing] both sides of conflict’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Like other Times-watchers, I’ve been studying the new Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, to discern her point of view. And here she seems to express her ideals in a piece about attending the Jerusalem Film Festival, in which she enthuses/grieves for both sides, and is moved by the “heartbreaking chronicle of the years-long Bilin struggle, ‘Five Broken Cameras.’” 

Rudoren’s credo as a reporter seems evident in the second paragraph of this excerpt:

Overall, 45,000 tickets were distributed for 315 screenings over 10 days (the Israeli movies filled 11,000 seats at 55 showings), and the crowd was striking for its lack of religious Jews — rare in the capital — or Arabs of any kind. ..

Like so many of the political actors here, most of the films seemed unable to sensitively portray both sides of the perpetual conflicts, or uninterested in doing so. Two centered on Arabs — “Good Garbage,” a documentary about Palestinians who make their living scavenging from a dump in Hebron, and “Sharqiya,” a feature about Bedouins whose homes in the Negev have been demolished — offer one-dimensional caricatures of settlers and Israeli officials. “Rock the Casbah,” a feature about an Army unit in Gaza in 1989, is slightly more nuanced: the Palestinian teenagers who terrorize soldiers, killing one by dropping a washing machine on him from a rooftop, are hopeless thugs, but a family whose home is commandeered is presented sympathetically.

I loved 5 Broken Cameras too. But it’s impossible to watch that film without understanding that one side has the power, the other doesn’t. The hero of the film, the noble spirit Bassem Abu Rahmah, is killed by occupying soldiers.

Sometimes the two sides to a conflict are grossly imbalanced, and the less-powerful side, having lost again and again, may justly make a claim to the world’s sympathy. 

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