Sunday, July 26, 2009

Addendum re RACHEL

On a more personal note ...

I am realizing, some 8 hours after the screening ended, that I really resent having to sustain my awareness of the local and global politics of showing the film, not to mention the local politics and possible consequences of my showing up at the film, rather than being present with the political situation the film describes and its personal ramifications for me and people I love.

I mean, this film is traumatic. We see multiple still shots of Rachel Corrie as she lay dying and dead. We see soldiers, most of them younger than I am, admitting that they believe their actions in Gaza were wrong, and we see one saying that he can't say he won't do the same thing again, the next time he's called for Reserve duty. I was on the verge of tears for some six hours after the film ended (which is not a good state to be in when driving across the Bay Bridge) (but it's okay, I made it safely).

I wish I could have sat with those feelings, discussed those issues, learned from those aspects of the film I agree with and those aspects I disagree with. I wish I could have cried with my friends about it, and wrestled together with the implications for our own behavior as anti-occupation Jews with all our various privileges, citizenships, and complicated positionalities. I wish I could have done what you're supposed to do with documentaries!

Instead I was constantly aware that the audience's reaction might affect JFF's decision about going through with next week's screening, that this controversy might once again tear my synagogue community apart (or tear me apart from it), and that my presence at this screening might get back to people I work with, and have who knows what consequences in my workplace.

I feel angry that those who sought to silence this film succeeded, not in getting the screening canceled, but, at least partly, in ruining it for me.

This makes me think about sustainability and self-care. About how to build healthy communities in the midst of a profoundly unhealthy society. About building in some debriefing, mutual support, and dancing whenever we lay plans to attend and/or protest a politically fraught event.

At the very least, we should have brought some chocolate.

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