PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Reviews

Unsettled

Adam Hootnick's trenchant, intelligent documentary, Unsettled, concerns the forced evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza and the West Bank in 2005.


Unsettled

Director: Adam Hootnick
Cast: Lior, Meir Neta, Tarnar, Ye’ela, Yuval
MPAA rating: N/A
Studio: Resonance Pictures
First date: 2006
US Release Date: 2008-05-09 (Limited release)
Website
Trailer
It is not that we were not able to get into some of the settlements -- we decided not to try to do it. I do not think there is any settlement that we are not able to get into, and once needed, we'll be in and get all the people out.
-- Eival Gilady, 16 August 2005
[The Gaza blockade] is a disaster for everybody because it's touching everybody in every aspect of their life, from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. The way things have been reduced here, there's a very sub-human existence for the general population.
-- John Ging, director of operations in Gaza for the UN Refugee and Works Agency, 12 May 2008

Lior is a surfer. Tanned and shaggy, the 20-year-old Bob Marley fan likes spending afternoons on the beach where he's a lifeguard, playing his guitar and singing. "My family," he explains, "don't come here for ideology... We are farmers." As he dives beneath the surface of a pale blue-green sea, his voice-over continues: "I don't feel that some soldier come to me and tell me to get the fuck out of here. I don't feel it. I feel like I'm just going to stay here for a couple of years."

"Here" is the Gaza Strip, where Lior's family has lived for over two decades. His story is one of several recounted in Adam Hootnick's trenchant, intelligent documentary, Unsettled. Concerning the forced evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza and the West Bank in 2005, the film notes the irony of Ariel Sharon ordering the removal, Sharon having premised so much of his earlier politicking on the assertion of Israel's right to the land, "settled" by Israeli civilians after the Six Day War. As is well known, that 1967 decision led to ongoing conflict between settlers and Palestinians. Sharon's reversal in 2005 produced more trouble, setting Israelis against Israelis, an intricate dilemma that Hootnick's documentary reveals in significant, mostly subtle detail.

Offering multiple viewpoints accompanied by a lively soundtrack (which includes traditional music as well as Matisyahu), the film argues for understanding and respect amid this perennially intractable discord. Caught on its razor edge, Tamar is a soldier in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). She's lived in Israel, she says, since the fourth grade and joined the army two years ago. Previously a liaison officer for a U.N. representative in Syria, now she's training to remove Israelis out of their homes. As she and her fellow soldiers "prepare for extreme scenarios," the drill instructor explains, "You will have to tell your grandmothers back home that you are evacuating this piece of land." The soldiers set their jaws. "There is no enemy," the instructor continues. "There is no victory. We have to do it with determination but with a sense of sensibility and sensitivity, of the mission." The soldiers can show no emotion, take no pleasure in what they're doing. While the caution sounds apposite, while watching their faces as they train, it's hard to imagine these soldiers will feel anything but anguish over what they're doing.

Even as Tamar, according to a caption, "is training to evict [Lior]," he spends his last weeks on Gaza with his best friend Meir, who, the film notes, "believes God set his country's borders." They sing together, "I feel like a stranger where should I go? What will we do? Where is there another place on earth that looks like a picture?" Almost as soon as Lior declares he wants "no more killing, no more rockets, no more nothing, just they live there and we live where we live," he's interrupted by the sounds of distant explosions and a nearby alarm. "You see the reality," he tells the camera, "This how we live, man, we surf in the morning and we hear bombs in the night."

Neta, 20, describes her life in Netzarim similarly, while also insisting on Israelis' right to "the land." "For us," she says, "it's not a settlement. For us, living in Netzarim is totally normal, even if there are hard things, like bombings and like Arabs and all kinds of other things." As she undertakes to document her experience of Netzarim, her filming becomes the subject of Unsettled cinematographer Mickey Elkeles’s filming. When, speaking for her camera, Neta's 14-year-old sister says she's "angry at the soldiers who are coming to take me out of my house," her younger cousin, just six years old, asks, "Why are you mad at the soldier and not the prime minister?" The question goes to the heart of the tensions explored in Unsettled, the ways that different understandings of duty and allegiance -- to religious tenets and to government service -- set Israelis against one another.

The film looks at a range of this conflict's effects, emotional, ideological, and political. Where Neta expresses outrage that Israeli family homes will be destroyed by Israelis, according to "an agreement with the Palestinian government," another view is articulated by a representative of the Return to Zionism movement; when she asks how this movement can support the evacuations, he explains, "Zionism is not about the land of Israel. It's about the character of Israel." At the same time, the film reveals the mix of anguish and determination expressed by Ye'ela, an activist trying to "stop the killing" by backing the evacuation. Framed by the death of her 15-year-old sister by a suicide bombing at the Tel Aviv Emporium in 1996, Ye'ela's position is surely complicated. "Some of [the Palestinians]," she says, "are not acting like people," she says, "but they are human beings, so now, today, we are asking Israel people to leave their houses."

She describes the difficult route to her current view. When her sister was killed, Ye'ela says, "You have a big hole in everyone's heart. One part of me wanted to go out and kill all the Arabics that I could and another part of me said, 'You have to think, you can't cause more suffering.'" Her thinking has led her to see multiple perspectives -- and to worry about various lives. "The religious people are born and raised one way, and they can't get out of this." But their rigid beliefs, Ye'ela suggests, blind them to the risks they assign to others, namely the soldiers who guard settlements. "They treat the soldiers like they are their soldiers," she observes. "They are the soldiers of the country, not their private soldiers."

The film closes on soldiers engaged in grueling emotional work, making their way past protestors, literally carrying settlers from their kitchens. Alternately accosted and opposed, the young people in uniforms do their best to maintain the unexpressive faces they were trained to show. “If you don’t cry, you’re not a Jew!” asserts one woman. Tamar, dedicated to serving her nation, observes, "People look at soldiers now and all they see is the person who took the Jews out of their homes." Unsettled works to show something else, the many perspectives that might be embodied by even one person.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.