[I happened to catch an npr interview with the Israeli producer of this film which examines face to face a cross-section of the 9-10,000 Palestinians now imprisoned in Israeli jails — many with multiple life sentences, including Marwan Barghouti, whom many see as the natural political leader of the Palestinians towards peaceful conciliation with the Israelis.

The film’s director, Shimon Dotan, now resides in the U.S. which he suggests gives him a certain psychic distance from the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts.  According to his report the bulk of those imprisoned — some only following formal trial procedures — are the natural political leadership of the Palestinians, particularly Barghouti.  Some only are would be or complicit with suicide bombers.  The Israelis have announced that several hundred of these prisoners may be released — but probably not Barghouti whom most Palestinians would wish to see assume his natural leadership role — perhaps another Nelson Mandela in the making?

Personally I hope for eventual truth and reconciliation between the Israelis and Palestinians.  I am personally in touch with people on both sides of the Green Line who share this hope.  As any who enters this world knows, one is likely to be accused of anti-Semitism in the face of any criticisms of the Israeli treatment of their captive Palestinian populations — both in and out of their prisons.

In fairness conditions for the prisoners, themselves, are comfortable.  They may choose their fellow prisoners — Fatah v. Hamas.  They have TVs. decent food, and can take extension courses at Israeli universities (not Palestinian ones which many would prefer).  Of necessity they learn Hebrew and, thus, would constitute natural bridge figures between the two communities — were they allowed to circulate outside their various prison walls.

The HBO presentation will probably be repeated and the film may be shown elsewhere.  It has already appeared on Israeli and Palestinian TV.
Such an anomaly of a world in which we are living in which nations occupy others and then place those occupied in jails!  The U.S. has done the same (Gitmo and Abu Graib) with far less decency and with brutal torture and rendering to hidden deaths here there and elsewhere. Perhaps we might learn from the Israelis?  And both the Israelis and we might learn from the rest of the civilized world?

See it, if you can:

Hot House on HBO

“This documentary takes a timely and disturbing look at how Israeli prisons have become the breeding ground for the next generation of Palestinian leaders — as well as the birthplace of future terrorist threats. Premieres Wednesday, June 27 at 6:30pm.”

The following summary is taken from Human Rights Watch.  Ed Kent]



Hot House
Series: 2007 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival [Jun. 15 – 28, 2007]
Director: Shimon Dotan, Country: Israel, Release: 2006, Runtime: 89

About 9,000 Palestinians are imprisoned in Israeli jails on “security” charges. Shot inside the Ber Sheba, Ashkelon, Hadarim, and Megiddo prisons, Hot House is a unique, probing documentary feature that explores the emergence of a Palestinian national leadership within Israeli prisons. The film offers a rare look at the experiences, motivations and mindsets of a number of key inmates––men and women, from Fatah and Hamas, serving multiple life sentences––and the remarkable degree to which they influence the political process in the outside world. Hot House provides a unique opportunity to observe events of historic proportions at their nascent beginnings while shattering the two-dimensional stereotypes and the often polarizing commentary presented by the mainstream media on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An HBO Documentary film. Winner of the Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival 2007. Presented in association with Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street Y and The Frontline Club

“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  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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