“Before summer ends, three young Israelis will be forced from their homes, two soldiers will be sent to evict them, and one activist will fight to help her country avoid a war.”
These are the words used in the press release for “Unsettled,” an award-winning documentary about Israel’s summer 2005 evacuation of the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday evening, this film came to Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (and co-sponsored with Birthright Israel NEXT) for a special screening. Dozens of people showed up to watch this heart-wrenching tale of one of the most divisive acts in Israeli history, and to Q & A with the director, former newsman, Adam Hootnick.
The story revolves around six different narrators; Lior, 20, a laid-back surfer who lives on “The Palm Beach” of Gaza, his friend, Meir, 27, a religious Jew who believes that G-d has granted his home to him, Neta, 20, a settler trying to resist the evacuation through making documentary films, Tamar, 20, and Yuval, 21, the soldiers who must put their own feelings aside to do their duty, and Ye’ela, 21, who lost a sister to a suicide bomber, and believes giving Gaza back to the Palestinians is the right thing to do.
The youth of these protagonists adds to the reality that this is their story; that the evacuation from Gaza will define their adult lives. Hootnick does a masterful job in condensing their disparate backgrounds for the purposes of the film, and stays with the characters through the moist poignant moments—from training to force settlers out of their homes, to protests for and against this unilateral action, to the very moments when the Gaza withdrawal becomes a tangible reality.
In the Q & A session, American-born Hootnick reaffirmed my hopes for this documentary—he set out not to highlight a specific ideology or interject his own opinions into the story, but to show the human side, the raw human side of the fact that Jews were once again evicted from their homes, and IDF soldiers had to turn their energies against their own people. It is, as the press release calls it, “a battle where there is no enemy.”
After the viewing, I had the pleasure of talking with two young women in my age group—a Jew who has family in Israel, and a Malaysian who has little knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was relieved to find that they, like me, were surprised at their visceral reactions to this film, to the wholly human emotions that it evokes. This, to my mind, is why “Unsettled” is a must-see for anyone interested in the Middle East. (And perhaps a “see twice,” as I hope to do. :P) Check out the screenings to see if it’s playing anywhere near you!