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The year is 1989. In an era of Palestinian demands for independence, the State of Israel sends young soldiers to oversee the Arab population in the Occupied Territories. After one of them is killed, the common fate of four young soldiers and one Palestinian family is sealed. The film describes the extraordinary journey of a young soldier trying to find his place in the chaos surrounding him.Written by
On the Rocky Road to Nowhere in the endless Palestinian/Israeli conflict
Rock Ba-Casba (2012) Poster: "Rock in The Casbah", viewed at the 2012 LA Israeli Film Festival, is a debut feature by Yarivz Horowitz, a former military field photographer, who witnessed the kind of action we see in this film first hand. While this is a fiction film it is so close to the actual realities on the ground that it reads almost like a documentary. In 1989 five raw Israeli recruits are sent to Ghaza and told the action to quell the Intafada will be over in a week. In actual fact it lasted many months. They are immediately confronted by hails of rocks and deadly molotov cocktails thrown by the youth of the town and one of them is killed by a washing machine dropped from the roof of a building. The soldiers are frustrated by the fact that they are not permitted to use live ammunition, only rubber bullets and tear gas. The roof of the building is taken over as an observation post by the remaining four soldiers but to get there they must pass through the apartment of the family from where the washing machine came. They set up camp and play loud rock music on a ghetto blaster to pass the time while subsisting on horrible canned C-rations. From below they are constantly taunted by a horde of Arab youths. The rock music on the roof, the rocks launched at them as weapons, and the general rocking of the tranquility of life in the Palestinian Ghetto all merge and vibrate together in the title of this hard Israeli look at a no-win situation.
The father denies any knowledge of where the fatal washing machine came from although it is his son who dropped it. Many confrontations with the Arab family occur. They claim the soldiers have no right to invade their privacy and are aghast when one of them brings a pet dog through their quarters -- anathema in an Islamic household. The father pleads with them to leave the premises so that others around will not see him as a collaborator. Just about every issue between Jews and Arabs one can think of comes up in the course of the film and the Israeli soldiers, especially their brutal commander, are depicted almost like Nazis invading Jewish households, with their disrespect for local customs. But one of the soldiers is an out-and-out Pacifist and complains that he was recruited to fight enemy soldiers, not civilians. This is the entire tenor of the film --addressing among other things, the hard question of how much right do Israeli soldiers have to hassle civilians in the defense of Israel? In the end, when the washing machine assailant is spotted among a group of stone throwers, it is the pacifist who pulls the trigger to kill him. This picture can easily be seen as pro-Palestinian, but just as easily as a defense of what Israeli soldiers are called upon do in the line of duty to guarantee the survival of their country -- a sympathetic portrayal of non-professional soldiers caught up in an impossible situation surrounded by hostile hate-filled Palestinian civilians --and therefore as a Pro-Israeli view. Director Horowitz stated that it was his intention not to take sides but to show the messy situation as it is with all the unpleasant realities and paradoxes involved and this he has done almost beyond the call of duty. However you look at it "Rock Ba-Casbah" is a very powerful film and will rock audiences whatever their political persuasion. Be careful, however, not to get it confused with another Israeli film called "Rock THE Casbah" which is a light comedy a light year away.
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