Orna Ben Dor and Noa Maiman’s documentary focuses on three teenagers who were born in Israel to non-Jewish foreign workers. Due to Israeli law, they are not automatically guaranteed citizenship. Indeed, many Israeli-born children are routinely deported to their parents’ homelands if their parents lack the proper work permits to remain in the country.
In this film, the teenagers are able to secure Israeli passports in order to travel to meet family in their respective family homelands – in this case, Congo, Peru and the Philippines. Despite the geographic differences, all three countries share the same burdens of grueling poverty, a virtually non-existent infrastructure and dead-end lives for those who are unable to emigrate. Each teenager concludes their travels with bittersweet emotions – they have no attachment to their parents’ homelands, but they still feel like strangers in their place of birth. Ultimately, the Peruvian and Filipino teenagers need to join the Israeli military in order to secure citizenship, while the Congolese teenager struggles to obtain an Israeli identity card that will allow her to secure a full-time job.
“Homecoming” is a provocative and moving study of ethnic identity, and it offers a sharp criticism of Israel’s problems in assimilating a multiracial and multicultural population that was never envisioned by the original Zionist movement.