[By chance I happened upon Danae Alon’s documentary, Another Road Home, which is currently playing and replaying on the Sundance channel (101 in NYC) which details her search for the Palestinian family care giver, Mahmoud Musa Obeidallah, who nurtured her when she was growing up as a young girl in Israel. Obeidallah had labored long and hard to launch his family, 11 sons and his wife, in a new life in Patterson, New Jersey. Danae, the daughter of Israeli peace supporter, Amos Alon, sets out to find the Obeidallah family and Mahmoud, which she does after ranging through the streets of this city where many Palestinians have settled. She discovers that the family has prospered, with the sons having had college and professional educations made possible through their father’s labors in Israel. And a grand reunion takes place which, of course, carries a message. Below is a review of the film when it was first produced. Google will lead to other reviews, both pro and con, along the usual political lines and access to the DVD of the film. Ed Kent]



May 6, 2005

‘Another Road Home’
Love bridges the gulf of political war.

By Kevin Crust, Times Staff Writer

Seldom does something so personal resonate with such universal implications. Israeli filmmaker Danae Elon’s “Another Road Home,” an extremely intimate documentary about her search for the Palestinian man who was her caregiver as she was growing up in Jerusalem, not only echoes the timeless conflict between their peoples, it addresses the disturbingly human traits that cause us to wage war, torture and generally dehumanize one another.

But lest you think that “Another Road Home” is a downer, yet another treatment of a troubling, no-win situation, think again. Although the film makes no attempt to offer solutions (what film could?), it does provide inspiration in the form of two wonderfully resilient families and their entwined journeys through politically volatile times.

Elon, the daughter of historian and social critic Amos Elon and his wife, Beth, a former correspondent and literary agent, left Israel in 1991 to attend NYU film school. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City, Danae decided to reconnect with Musa Obeidallah, the man who helped raise her for more than 20 years.

Musa had 11 children of his own, including eight sons for whom he sacrificed so that they would have opportunities to become educated and have careers. Danae was aware that some of Musa’s family had immigrated to Paterson, N.J., which has a large Palestinian community, and so her search began there. Miraculously, following the slightest of leads, Danae was able to locate Musa’s son Naser, who was in the process of opening a pharmacy.

The reconciliation between Danae, Naser and his brothers has a subtle complexity that the writers of most scripted dramas can only dream about. It’s clear early on in the film that Danae is unsure of what it is she is really seeking. The lack of defined objective might generally be a negative for a documentary, but here it turns out to be a benefit, as the conversations are loaded with all of the raw emotion, awkwardness and discomfort the filmmaker is going through, laid bare for the audience to experience as well.

The project also allows Elon to speak with her parents on subjects that apparently had not been addressed in the past. Her father, an intellectual who has written many books on Germany, Jewish history and the Middle East, has been an ardent critic of Israel’s policies but after many years of writing on the subject, he is quite skeptical about the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. On camera, he is more uncomfortable speaking to his daughter on personal matters, including their relationship with Musa.

In fact, Musa, now an elderly man whose eyes twinkle with kindness, seems to fill a void in Danae’s life that her parents could not. The bond between this Palestinian man and the Israeli woman he helped nurture is so palpably strong and pure it makes it heartbreaking that it is so difficult for them to reunite. If governments and politicians could deal with one another with a fraction of the compassion that the Elon and Obeidallah families do, the world would obviously be a better place. Touching, painful and powerfully affecting, “Another Road Home” is an amazing achievement of personal filmmaking.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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