May 10, 2021
Molly Stuart’s film about a woman imprisoned for refusing to do MILITARY service paints a fascinating portrait of a country riven by conflict
Objector review – Israeli anti-occupation documentary wears its politics on its sleeve
In this rousing, unabashedly left-inflected documentary, we meet Atalya Ben Abba, a young Israeli woman staring down the barrel of the mandatory military service everyone in the country must do when they come of age. But Atalya doesn’t want to play any part in the state apparatus that makes the occupation of Palestine possible. Instead, she proclaims herself a conscientious objector, and must face time in prison. While her brother Amitai gets where she’s coming from, others in her family – her mother Alona, sister, father, grandparents – find it harder to understand Atalya’s point of view, especially the members of the older generation who grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust.
On the other hand, footage here proves that Zionist extremism permeates every generation: frothy-mouthed young Israeli rightwingers show up at the demonstrations where Atalya speaks only to counterprotest and demand that Atalya and other objectors “go back to Berlin”. Still, Atalya’s story and the testimony of some of her fellow objectors who hope for a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict suggests that the younger generation’s attitudes may be shifting, even if Atalya’s nephew learns about joining the army as early at the first grade.
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