An Israeli Film about Small-Town Life in the Negev Comes to the American Stage

Dec. 13 2016

Set in the fictional town of Bet Hatikvah, the Israeli film The Band’s Visit (2007) tells the story of how this small, dull community is shaken up by the accidental visit of an Egyptian police orchestra. David Yazbeck and Itamar Moses have transformed the movie into an English-language musical. Ben Brantley writes in his appreciative review:

The Band’s Visit uses a well-worn formula that hasn’t stopped being recycled since Oedipus stumbled into Thebes. That’s the good old story of a stranger—or in this case strangers, an entire Egyptian police band —arriving in a sleepy town and shaking it to its foundations.

Think of The Rainmaker, Shane, or even The Music Man, in which that stranger’s kiss (or gunshot or con act) winds up transforming lives forever. The Band’s Visit flirts with the clichés of such a scenario, and then triumphantly fails to consummate them. Just when you think it’s going to deliver big on an anticipated clincher, it pulls back, and that withdrawal feels far more satisfying than the expected obvious climax.

Consider, for example, the possible political implications of the plot. . . . Uninvited Arabs in Israel? Surely, we can anticipate a fraught cultural collision and a subsequent feel-good reconciliation, proving that even perceived adversaries have more in common than they thought. But nationalistic tensions are touched upon only glancingly.

Instead, the Bet Hatikvans are delighted, in their low-key way, by the mere novelty of these traveling musicians, led by their dignity-conscious conductor Tewfiq, who wear robin’s-egg-blue uniforms that make the townspeople think of Michael Jackson.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Arts & Culture, Broadway, Film, Israeli culture, Musical theater

Hamas Won’t Compromise with the Palestinian Authority, and Gazans Won’t Overthrow Hamas

July 24 2017

Since the terrorist organization Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, much of Israeli strategy toward it has stemmed from the belief that, if sufficient pressure is applied, the territory’s residents will rise up against it. Yaakov Amidror argues this is unlikely to happen, and he also doubts that improved living conditions for ordinary Gazans would deter Hamas from terrorism or war:

The hardships experienced by the Strip’s residents, no matter how terrible, will not drive them to stage a coup to topple Hamas. The organization is entrenched in Gaza and is notorious for its brutality toward any sign of dissidence, and the Palestinians know there is no viable alternative waiting for an opportunity to [take over].

[Therefore], it is time everyone got used to the idea that Hamas is not about to relinquish its dominant position in the Gaza Strip, let alone concede to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas. . . . [Yet the] assumption is also baseless that if Gaza experiences economic stability and prosperity, Hamas would refrain from provoking hostilities. This misconception is based on the theory that Hamas operates by governmental norms and prioritizes the needs and welfare of its citizens. This logic does not apply to Hamas. . . .

[Hamas’s] priorities are to bolster its military power and cement its iron grip. This is why all the supplies Israel allows into Gaza on a daily basis to facilitate normal life have little chance of reaching the people. Hamas first and foremost takes care of its leaders and makes sure it has what it needs to sustain its terror-tunnel-digging enterprise and its weapon-production efforts. It then sees to the needs of its members, and then—and only then—what little is left is diverted to rehabilitation efforts that benefit the population.

This is why the argument that Israel is responsible for Gaza’s inability to recover from its plight is baseless. Hamas is the one that determines the priorities by which to allocate resources in the enclave, and the more construction materials that enter Gaza, the easier and faster it is for Hamas to restore its military capabilities. Should Israel sacrifice its own security on the altar of Gazans’ living conditions? I don’t think so.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security