We ate at Bistro Grande, then proceeded to the nice big Chapters location in Bayview Village, where we had over an hour to browse (yay! I wander the aisles writing down book titles, then come home and reserve them from the library). Then we headed over to the movie and got a parking space right on Yonge Street in front of the theatre.
The movie is called "חיים יקרים" - “Precious Life.” Dumb title, but it is easily the most balanced piece of journalism I have seen coming out of that region. I thought it was a beautiful movie – no easy answers, maybe no answers at all, but very, very human.
It's about an Israeli journalist and doctor struggling to save the life of an Arab baby from Gaza - even after the mother says she'd be proud if he grew up to be a Shahid, a suicide bomber. There are some tough conversations in the movie, but mostly it's about saving this baby - and what kind of life he'll have once he recovers.
I teared up twice: Once when the Israeli doctor said “maybe he and my son won’t play together; maybe their sons won’t play together, but our grandchildren will play together.” Amen. And again, when the mother is talking after the recent war in Gaza about how she wasn’t afraid. “I lived with Jews for six or seven months and I knew they wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.” Amen, Amen.
A scene of baby Muhammed, not even a year old, lying alone on a gurney, stuck in a bleak concrete corridor in the Gaza checkpoint, critically ill and screaming, while his mother and Israeli authorities presumably deal with the bureaucracy associated with saving his life is heartbreaking.
Yet an earlier scene showing an explosion in the checkpoint itself demonstrates that there is good reason behind the authorities’ caution, even when the life of a child is at stake.
And both sides’ absolute certainty of their right to Jerusalem is chilling. Just palpably, frighteningly chilling. Both the journalist, Shlomi Eldar, and the baby’s mother, facing off, angry but smiling, refusing to budge, because they are both so sure they are right.
In another scene, Muhammed’s parents celebrate as he experiences a sudden turnaround for the better, just as fireworks begin to go off for Yom HaAtzmaut. Earlier that day, they had been sitting outside as sirens sounded for Yom HaZikaron, to commemorate the fallen soldiers. They had no idea what the sirens were for; they have very little idea of anything to do with Israel or Judaism.
One thinks, “if only they knew,” but then again, maybe not.
Like I said, no answers, but lots of questions. Some victories, some defeats, and ultimately, a well-crafted piece of journalism, a story about humanity, two nations struggling to survive.
As the doctor in the movie describes the bone marrow transplant that may save Muhammed’s life, “a struggle between the two elements which must live side by side. And each has its hopes and ambitions. But if they co-exist, they’ll survive.”