There are certain moments that stand out after a political film about intense emotions, telling human gestures and moments of trust or intimacy or courage. In the case of I Know I'm Not Alone
, Michael Franti's new film, those moments include the way the Israeli soldier's hand keeps twitching after Franti asks him to take his finger off his gun trigger and he slings his rifle over his back instead. The soldier has had that finger on that trigger for so long now, it's a comfort blanket and without it, the finger seeks blindly for it, jitters and moves, the whole hand dancing around so I lose track of what Franti is saying to him.
Another is Franti going in and singing "Bomb the World" for US troops in Iraq. He's nervous, never sung this to people like this before, and here they are with their American flags on their sleeves, literally, as he sings those opening lines "Tell me the reason behind the colours that you fly/love just one nation and the whole world we divide". For them, he changes one line: "We can bomb the world to pieces, but can we bomb it into peace?" making it a question rather than his usual bald statement that it's not possible...
And then of course there are the victims: the children without legs, the mothers of suicide bombers and officers, the young soldier who has told himself over and over he won't cross this moral line and finds that he can, he has...
Franti seeks out the poets, the musicians. A child recites a love poem, all smiles. Franti jams with Sheva, and it's odd to see Mosh Ben-Ari (who I've met
) talk about how Israel will always be in his soul even though I know he's now living in Melbourne with the woman he 'wed' at Woodford a couple of years ago.
There's a moment in a pirate radio station in Uday Hussein's old apartment where they're listening to that line of "We Don't Stop" where he says "And if I was in Baghdad, I would rock Iraq" and they all laugh. To some extent, that's my only criticism of this film: here he is, in Baghdad, and he makes some lazy excuse that he couldn't learn a whole song in Arabic so he creates a one word chant on 'habibi'... To really rock Iraq, he only needed a line, a sentence, something more than that. And that song, if he really made that effort, could be released and give the same message of peace and tolerance to the Arabic-speaking world as he gives to us.
In the end, it's a tragedy that it's the olive trees that the Israelis are tearing down to build their wall: that olive branch that has for so long been a symbol of peace.
As usual, it's up to all of us to refuse to partake in the processes and proceeds of war, to stand up and be refusniks ourselves. That has its price, as Penny pointed out to me: the soldier who refused to return to duty in an illegal war because he thought it was immoral to do so has just been convicted by a British court martial
This isn't about sides, about being pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, anti-American or anti-Iraqi. This is about peace and finding common ground. This is about doing the right thing. This is about love and forgiveness and putting aside retribution and revenge.
I was going to write a separate post about the Passover dinner at raven_
's place, but actually, it's all related. Carla, Thorf, Georgia and I had Seder dinner on Wednesday. None of us is particularly religious; it's about culture and heritage. We told stories about refugees and personal stories about our families and suffering, Georgia's family getting out of Poland just before the war thanks to a personal sponsorship from King George IV, my grandfather escaping from Ukraine after the pogroms, Thorf's grandmother getting married to his grandfather to avoid being taken as a comfort woman by the Japanese, Carla's grandfather being jailed as a conscientious objector in Holland. It's not about what your background is. It's about human rights, about dignity and freedom from fear. It's not easy. It is worth it.