Elle Flanders’ documentary focuses on the contemporary Middle Eastern conflict by highlighting two mixed Israeli-Palestinian gay couples in Jerusalem. One would imagine that considerable cultural pressures would be brought upon these pairs, given the animosity between Israelis and Palestinians, coupled with the discriminatory problems faced by homosexuals in general.
Yet these issues are completely ignored in favor of a one-sided strident diatribe against Israeli policies relating to the Palestinian people. While few would happily commend the continued occupation of the West Bank and the dehumanizing protocol visited upon the Palestinians by the Israeli military forces, Flanders happily ignores the years of Palestinian terrorism that killed Israelis at home and overseas and she thoroughly rewrites history in solely blaming Israel for the modern Palestinian refugee crisis (the truth: Egypt and Jordan respectively annexed Gaza and the West Bank in 1948, thus denying the Palestinians their UN-mandated statehood).
Flanders also pollutes the film with boring and thoroughly irrelevant home movies that her grandparents shot in Israel in the early 1950s. (What’s the Hebrew word for “Zzzzzz”?)
As for the gay couples, they conveniently overlook one crucial fact: they can only live openly and securely in Israel, since homosexuals in the Palestinian Territories have been the victim of state-sanctioned violence. In fact, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where homosexuals can live openly without fear of being arrested or murdered. The absence of that basic fact confirms the bias of this seriously flawed movie.
“Zero Degrees of Separation” is an apt title, as it contributes zero to the cinematic consideration of the Middle East crisis or gay studies.