Paradise Now is a unique and powerful film about two handsome young Palestinian men who prepare for a suicide attack against the Israelis. One of them backs out in the end. But the other succeeds in blowing up a bus filled with Israeli soldiers.
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Never before has a film like Paradise Now been made. Although the film covers only the length of a single day during which the young men prepare themselves for the suicide bombing, it provides a unique perspective into the Israel-Palestine conflict. Both parties seem to be fighting for the sake of God. Their respective religions – both springing from the faith of Abraham – have taught them to right all wrongs through armed struggle if required. In the case of the poor Palestinians, the struggle for justice is meant to send the people that fight for justice to paradise. As a matter of fact, suicide bombing seems like a real solution to the poor people in Palestine.
They are desperate to fight, and believe that it is easiest to kill the enemy by also killing themselves. Moreover, suicide bombing is seen as a way for them to enter paradise now, as martyrs in the cause of God. Besides, it is a way to achieve absolute freedom from the problems that haunt them day after day. Their families have been killed, their babies butchered, and their houses have been mown down. Hence, the people of Palestine find it convenient to kill themselves during the fight. What is more, those who engage in suicide attacks, according to Paradise Now, make videos of themselves before the suicide attack, explaining to their people that suicide bombing is the right way to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Based on a report published in the year 2005, the escalating violence and murders in Israel and the Occupied Territories had brought untold suffering to the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations in nearly four and a half years. More than one hundred and fifty Palestinian women had been killed during this time by Israeli forces. On the other side, approximately three hundred Israeli women had been butchered by Palestinian armed groups. And, of course, women on both sides had also lost their families, including their husbands and children. Besides, many had lost their homes (“Israel and Occupied Territories”).
There had been an increased militarization of the conflict since the beginning of the Intifada. Palestinian women were already dealing with violence at home, as they came from the traditional patriarchal society of Palestine (“Israel”) Now they also had to take up arms and turn into suicide bombers in order to take revenge on behalf of their murdered children and other weak members of society. Israeli women, too, had to join the military forces at home so as to fight and destroy the enemy (Halpern). In the process, no doubt, there was an increase in the number of lost lives.
Both men and women who engage in suicide attacks against Israelis believe that they would enter paradise as soon as they are done with their suicide bombings. To aggravate the Israeli-Palestine conflict, now youngsters too are participating in suicide attacks. Issa Bdeir was a 16 year old high school student from Al Doha who killed himself in Rishon LeZion whilst killing another teenage boy as well as an elderly man. Nine other suicide attacks were documented between 2000 and 2004 with minors as the perpetrators. Other incidents have been reported since, also involving children as young as 12 years old (“Child Suicide Bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”).
This was the age of Muhammad Al-Durra as well, the 12 year old innocent boy who was traveling with his father and killed for no rhyme or reason by an Israeli soldier. According to E. Yaghi, “His death has become a symbol of freedom and the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.” Muhammad Al-Durra was not the first and the last innocent boy to be killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, he became an issue over which the Palestinians got ready to fight hard and long, even through desperate measures like suicide attacks.
Apparently it did not matter to either the Palestinians or the Israelis that former President Clinton of the United States reminded both that they were the children of Abraham. The Israelis and the Palestinians continue to fight over a piece of land, and they have been doing so for over sixty years. According to Roger A. Lee:
The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is both simple to understand, yet
deeply complex. At the heart of this conflict is a basic idea that both sides believe: The
Israelis believe that they are entitled to the land now known as Israel, while the Palestinians
believe that they are entitled to the land they call Palestine. Unfortunately, both sides claim
the same land; they simply call the land by different names. For religious Jewish Israelis and
religious Palestinian Muslims, the belief is deeper still, for both sides believe that God (called
Jehovah by the Jews and Allah by the Muslims), gave them the land, and that to give it away
or to give it up to another people is an insult to God and a sin.
Ironically, both the Jews and the Muslims believe in one God, who must necessarily be both Jehovah and Allah by name. The God that they believe in is a peaceful God, all out to teach the method of “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Furthermore, although everybody seems to have the interests of both the Israelis and the Palestinians at heart, nobody seems to be doing anything spectacular about it. In other words, the Palestinians cannot get the Israelis off their backs, and vice versa. Neither does a strong government of the world take over the region to help the Israelis and Palestinians coexist. Such coexistence was possible in the Ottoman times, for instance. At present, however, nobody finds Palestinians another place to live. Neither does anybody advise the Israelis to tolerate their neighbors. What is more, even God does not seem to be interfering in the conflict!
According to John Spritzler, events such as those depicted in Paradise Now would continue occurring because the Palestinians cannot find a “realistic way to resist an implacable force that wants them to disappear or live forever in squalid refugee camps as permanent outcasts from their former towns and villages.” The world does not provide them with an answer either. All that it does is to condemn those who engage in suicide attacks, and rightly so. All the same, it is obvious to everyone that nobody has by now discovered a unique solution to help both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
It would take very strong leadership on behalf of an inpidual, a party, or a government to stop the Israel-Palestine conflict. The solution is, of course, coexistence. How may the Jews and the Muslims tolerate each other unless both groups wish to act like Cane from the Cane and Able story? The world may either continue watching the two groups butcher each other, or truly take a stand to assist both groups.
It is also obvious that both groups have misinterpreted their religion, which cannot seem to find them a way to end the conflict. Even though both are calling upon the same God, they are miserable doing so. It is apparent, therefore, that both groups have misunderstood the correct way of God. Only the method of “Loving your neighbor as you love yourself” is workable in their situation. But both groups are unwilling to understand this method. Perhaps the world would be better off, therefore, to educate the two battling groups in the region. Ignorance is the cause of Paradise Now. The Israelis, too, are not able to resolve the conflict through educated means.
It will be best, therefore, to concentrate first on the education of the two groups. In the present world circumstances, this method is viable through the United Nations. All that it requires now is a matter of commitment. Besides, the world needs to stop taking sides in the conflict. Both the Jews and the Muslims are suffering, and both require urgent assist. All third parties interesting in helping to resolve the conflict must think objectively, and truly resolve the conflict instead of waiting for world reactions.
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