On an ordinary day, it’s unlikely that the New York Times‘ placement of an article about Israeli land seizures in East Jerusalem next to one on the U.N. remembrance of the liberation of Auschwitz would have caught my eye. But I had just watched an advance copy of Walk on Water, an Israeli film opening here in March that follows Eyal, an undercover Mossad agent sent out to assassinate an infirm ex-Nazi. Along the way, he insults a sweet-faced Palestinian and condescends to a pair of German siblings whose sympathy for the Arabs he derides as hypocritical.
While marred at times by stilted dialogue, among other flaws, Eytan Fox‘s film captures a sense of exhaustion, even ennui, that surrounds anything Holocaust-related. The unflinching Eyal tries to convince his boss, a refugee, to drop this mission, telling him resignedly, “Let’s be honest here. No one gives a damn anymore.” But he also embraces a viewpoint shared by many: Israeli treatment of Palestinians is not tantamount to the German treatment of Jews, and Jews bear no special responsibility toward the Palestinians, or to anyone, for that matter, because of the treatment they endured at the hand of the Germans.
I don’t see myself in Eyal’s camp, and I surprised myself in noticing the articles’ juxtaposition on page A4. When your job is to scan all Jewish-related news, the dizzying number of dispatches about concentration camps and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be a terrific soporific. What roused me this time was dismay at the possibility that, just thumbing through the pages of the paper, you can make out these tired shadows, and that mainstream news about Jews offers so little beyond them.