“Our Boys” provides a personalized perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict

Korbin Breeden, Staff Writer

Filmmaking is a powerful medium because of its ability to shift perspectives and narratives, share the hardships of life, and form perceptions of “the other.” “Our Boys,” the latest documentary series from HBO, provides a unique perspective on a very complex conflict. The short series released this past month depicts the tit-for-tat retaliations between local Israelis and Palestinians following two kidnappings of local teens. Highly dramatized but extremely insightful, the series provides outsiders a small glimpse of the microaggressions that make up the conflict behind massive news stories. The series begins with a backdrop of the first kidnapping of three young Israelis and the public uproar that comes alongside the tragic news of their murder in the West Bank. “Our Boys” goes on to depict the life of the local Palestinians in Jerusalem and the hardship that comes with coexisting.

The series, by and large, is a documentary that blends together real footage from 2014 and dramatized film recreations. This approach creates an especially immersive experience for the audience. Characters like Mohammed Abu Khdeir are exceptionally crafted, allowing viewers to empathize and feel connected to one of the many victims of the events in this series. The series also excels in its ability to depict life within Israel from several different perspectives, including a rare inside look at the police force operating under Israeli control.

Despite the title of the series originating as a hashtag used by the Jewish community to remember their loss in this conflict, the film is told primarily from the perspective of a Muslim family. Hagai Levi, Joseph Cedar, and Tawfik Abu Wael wanted to take on the difficult task of understanding a perspective somewhat foreign to their own. Abu Wael, the only Palestinian heavily involved with the project, spent his time getting to know the Abu Khdeir family and their traditions. Following their own personal experiences, the directors decided that they wanted to better understand the Palestinian and Muslim populations’ struggle during one of the most violent summers since the Second Intifada.

The filming is extremely dynamic and provides fantastic visuals depicting the many different locations around Jerusalem. The plot allows for viewers to see the mimetic relationship that can come with group membership, and also explores themes of familial brokenness, racial injustice, and the hardships that come with loss.

It is incredibly important to understand that this is one of many perspectives on the Israel-Palestine conflict and comes with its own biases. Former Prime Minister and current elect to the position Benyamin Netanyahu has formally blocked the documentary from being shown in Israel. In response, the directors of “Our Boys” have focused on sharing the importance of hearing from all parties involved in a conflict. Viewers should therefore see this film in hopes of learning about the conflict. At its best, “Our Boys” serves as a way for the public to begin educating themselves on the issues of prejudice in Israel-Palestine.

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