Thursday, April 15, 2010

BAFICI: Jaffa, The Orange´s Clockwork

Despite the witty-title, this documentary about the demolition and evolution of the Jaffa Oranges in Palestine/Israel is heart-wrenching. I don´t know if it was using the orange-business as the symbolic/literal axis for dispute between the Palestinians and Israelis or whether it was the old, Palestinian orchard mechanic that began to weep in his interview, but this doc was simply powerful.

Most documentaries following the Middle-Eastern (referred to as the Oriental conflict in the film) have become cliché: Yes, we know about 1948, Zionism, atrocities, extermination, suicide-bombings, etc. These occurrences are devastating to the soul, but people stop paying attention to things that are on repeat. Jaffa, however, told a different side of the story.

It started with scenes of prosperous orange-orchards where Jews and Muslims worked side-by-side cultivating some of the most delicious citrus fruit in the World -- Queen Victoria could attest to it with her order of 3 boxes. After 1948, the life in Jaffa changed. With the Zionist Exodus came an inundation of Europeans, reclaiming land and orchards that had been owned and operated, by Muslims and Jews, for decades. Since the rise in the population, the port-town´s water supply could no longer support keep the people and the oranges hydrated. Most of the groves were levelled.

¨You just don´t do that to a land that you love,¨ said a Palestinian historian and writer.

And so it goes for many living in the divided and occupied territories. It´s something that must be seen with our own eyes to understand the devastating effects the occupation has had.

Not only was the film incredible and informative, the situation was surreal. It was being screened at the Abasto Shopping Centre, in the Jewish-barrio called Almagro in Buenos Aires. Over-generalizing, I thought there might be some scoffing, despite the films balance of Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals discussing the issue. Instead, at the end of the film, there was a round of applause.

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