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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Censored Voices: New Doc Allows Israeli Soldiers To Speak

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 12:30 PM

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Mor Loushy's powerful documentary Censored Voices is now playing at the Opera Plaza. Heartbreaking and thought provoking, the film is particularly powerful today, only a few short weeks after Muslims rallied against ISIS. Those actions, along with Loushy's film, suggest an alternate reality to what politicians, the news media, and religious leaders have been suggesting: most Middle Eastern people aren't dancing in the streets clamoring for more attacks. They don't want another war — they want the killing to stop. They yearn for peace.

Israel's Six-Day War is the stuff of legend. In June 1967, Israel was surrounded on all sides by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, who were vowing to annihilate the Jewish State. Israeli soldiers were outnumbered, yet in just under a week they beat the attackers back, taking a lot of enemy territory in the process. (This was how the West Bank occupation began.) Israel, and indeed the worldwide Jewish community, cheered.

As always, there was another side to the story. Shortly after the war ended, acclaimed Israeli novelist Amoz Oz and Avraham Shapira traveled to various kibbutzim (Israeli communal farms) with a reel-to-reel tape recorder and got many soldiers to open up about their feelings regarding the war. The Israeli government censored 70 percent of those recordings — until now.

Those now released tapes are at the heart of Censored Voices. The recordings reveal the tragedy of war — the emotional wounds that are inflicted upon the participants — which governments and the media often ignores.

"A society that won't tell itself the truth is in big trouble," says one soldier.

"A tragedy isn't when one side is 100 percent right," says another. "A tragedy is when both sides are 100 percent right," says another.

The film becomes gut wrenching as soldiers recall the killing, the destruction, and the displacement of people which was, as one soldier points out, not unlike what happened to Jews during the Holocaust. Actual news footage and photos from the war are inserted into the film as we hear the soldiers recount their stories. 

The film's most powerful images are it's simplest: viewers will watch Amos Oz as he listens to the recordings he produced, a pained look upon his face.

War isn't pretty. Regardless of who "wins", people die on both sides. Families are torn apart. Lives are ruined. Few films paint a portrait of war's ugliness more powerfully than Censored Voices.                

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