To Die In Jerusalem | Notes & Review

To Die in Jerusalem follows Avigail Levy–Rachel’s mother–in her search for answers and reasons behind the suicide bombing of Palestinian Ayat al-Akhras that killed the two of them on March 29, 2002. While the primary narrative is through the Israeli experience, the producers did give voice to the Palestinian/Muslim perspective and contrasted the two very well through Levy’s visits to the jail where female terrorists are held, and especially through the climax of the film, the meeting of the two mothers via satellite TV.

In sum, the main emotions and rationales that emerged were that Palestinians feel oppressed and stripped of their rights with no recourse as the occupation continues. Israelis cannot conceive of any reason for violence in the peace process and believe that suicide bombers die for nothing. Muslims, however, see their deaths as martyrdom, an honorable and purposeful act in an effort to free their people. What started out as “eye for eye” truly has become “life for life.” As is mentioned quite clearly in the film, as long as these two attitudes persist, everyone continues to be both the protagonist and the victim, for in the Middle East those identities go hand-in-hand.

Ironically, the day after I finished this film, another bombing just took place in Jerusalem:

My wife told me to go read The Lemon Tree, which I will hopefully get to one day. My heart told me to pray. My soul is begging for someone in this בלגן to begin loving their enemy.

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One comment

  1. I just saw this documentary and felt so saddened and moved for all involved. This went right to the heart of the matter. Here’s what I want to mention…it looks to me that the Israeli mother from her position of relative freedom and benefit (prior to her daughter’s death of course) was not able to open her mind and heart to receive the awareness of the pain of the Palentinian people under occupation. Had she been able to do that she might have been able to begin to comprehend how that pain leads to the desperate act that ultimately victimized her daughter and herself. This might have lead to a transformation in her…and a different kind of ability to listen to the Palestinian mother. Being listened to in that way might have opened the way for the Palestinian mother to also open her heart more to the pain of the Israeli mother and to have a transformation of her own. Maybe then they could have both moved a step closer to being capable of putting down the desperate reactions pain brings us all to and to love their ‘enemy’. Then they might have moved closer to being capable of doing what the Isreali mother and the Palestinian mother both really wanted…to hold hands and work for peace together.

    The Israeli mother was inspired in the right direction to make this meeting happen. That took courage. However, I could see her blindspots and inability to listen to the Palestinian mother. I say this not to condone the Palestinian Mother’s own blindspots…as I believe that violence will never lead to peace. However, turning a blind eye to the cause of suffering is an obstacle to the transformations necessary to overcome the desperate reaction of violence that overwhelming pain brings us all to.

    Anyway, I think this documentary is a step in the right direction. Thank you to all who worked to present it. If we can watch this and learn about ourselves, we can get closer to peace. This is so no matter where we are – for we all have each and every one of the aspects we see here inside ourselves.

    May peace come to these mothers and to the Mid-East and to all of us. May the causes of suffering become understood and resolved with real wisdom and compassion.

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