Last night was the closing night of the Israeli Film Festival of Greater Philadelphia (believe it or not Philly has a lot of Israelis) and since student tickets were free and it was basically on campus, naturally I went. The film was The Little Traitor, a story about a young Israeli boy who befriends a British lieutenant in 1947. The movie itself is cute – definitely worth a NetFlix. But what I found so fascinating was the way the Arab-Israeli relations were depicted. Although the scope was so limited, the boy (Proffi) and the other Israelis in the film had friendly, normal relations with their Arab neighbors. Proffi bought his groceries in the souq and spent time smoking hookah with the Arab men hanging out in the street. They spoke a mix of Hebrew and Arabic, and were seemingly united in their hatred of the British occupation. It was almost as if the film was screaming, “things would have been better had the British stayed.” It made that point explicitly when Proffi and his British friend, Dunlop, (played by Alfred Molina) were discussing the British presence and the Israeli resistance. Dunlop suggested to Proffi that the British were keeping the peace in Palestine, and if they were to leave, the Arabs would take the place of the Israelis in the weaker position and would put forth their own home-grown resistance. Proffi dismissed these wise words with a passionate “but I hate the British!” Alas, what else can one expect from a sixth grader.
Dunlop’s point is well taken, but then again, hindsight is always 20/20.