Pink Floyd doesn’t factor in to Simone Bitton’s film “Wall,” but the chant “We don’t need no education” can easily be imagined here since this production offers one of the stupidest policy decisions ever instituted in modern times: the decision by the Israeli government to build a wall separating Israeli and Palestinian communities.
The reason for this nonsense? According to General Amos Yaron, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, it is to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian populations and to prevent Palestinians from stealing automobiles and agricultural equipment from Israelis. The fact that suicide bombings are still taking place pretty much erases the value of the first argument, and the fact the Israelis are building the wall on land stolen from the Palestinians negates that second argument about grand scale theft.
General Yaron claims the wall came about because (exact quote) “It’s all the Palestinians’ fault.” While General Yaron is clearly no fan of the Palestinians (he was implicated along with Ariel Sharon in the Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982), he is somewhat correct: the Palestinians themselves are building the wall. But that’s only because Israeli construction workers are hard to come by and blue collar employment opportunities in the Israeli-occupied territories are few and far between.
On the Israeli side of the wall, the concrete barrier is painted over in faux-Matisse and Haring art, as if it was some kind of urban beautification project. On the Palestinian side, there are swastikas and “F**k USA” banners painted on the wall. (The latter banner is a reminder of who paid for the structure.)
“Wall”offers plenty of powerful glimpes of life in the Occupied Territories. The most obnoxious focuses on an Israeli soldier (who seems to be in his late teens) bullying women and old men at a checkpoint, determining at whim who can pass and who must go back. The fact this gun-toting punk doesn’t even bother inspecting anyone’s bags for potential weapons shows how stupid and venal the Israeli military can be when dealing with the Palestinian civilians.
However, the film does fail to detail the history of terrorism which created the Israeli hostility to all Palestinians – after all, the wall did not pop up overnight just because the Israelis are a bunch of venal motherfuckers.. It is also telling that none of the Palestinians interviewed in the film denounces terrorism against Israeli civilians (no member of the Palestinian Authority appears in the film, a curious omission).
“Wall” might have worked better as an hour-long film; its 98 minute running time feels padded and repetitive, and at least one lengthy segment (with Israeli tourists getting off a bus at Rachel’s Tomb in the West Bank) could’ve been jettisoned. Yet the final sequences, with Palestinians climbing the wall (some carrying babies and packages) shows how stupid and ineffective the wall really is. The Pink Floyd influence is obvious: the dopes who came up with the idea of the wall clearly belong on the dark side of the moon!