باب الشمس"- رؤية نهى سلام"
Every time he is defeated, Younis stamps and announces Men el awwal and both the struggle and the narrative start over.
Bab El Shams - Al Ra7eel
A movie that offers a very human account of Palestinians. One that is panoramic in its scope, packed with narratives and counter-narratives, various perspectives on the same reality. One where references to notables are scant; political leaders appear merely as portraits on the walls of security offices. One that portrays peasants leading a peaceful life in a northern village called Ein Al Zaytoun in Al Galeel (very close to the Lebanese borders). They do not imagine a life beyond their village (at the village school, when the teacher asks the children, “What is our country?” they consistently reply, “Ein Al-Zaytun,” unable to imagine a nation beyond). When abandoned in the face of an overwhelming power, those peasants choose life over death. They have no refuge, no support. The Arab Army appears briefly, only to expose and ridicule itself (through a young officer who is busying himself with cleaning the canons and shouting at his soldiers and saying all the time "ma fee awamer, mafeesh awamer, mako awamer, and who commits suicide infront of the villagers out of helplessness to protect them). A movie about families caught between burnt out homes with a brutal force chasing them and shouting in microphones "This is a non Arabs zone, Arabs are not allowed here, Head north...head north, go to Lebanon" and unforgiving neighbors who see them as a burden and call them "qwat agnabeya 3ala al arady al lebenaneya"
The beauty of the movie is that it relies on individuals telling their story. It suggests that retelling is a form of rewriting history and introduces a new definition of heroism for the present generation, that is “by telling the story, owning their history and their memory”.
Choosing the small village in Al Galeel is very symbolic as the Israeli invasion to Lebanon was called operation "Al Salam fel Galeel". So in 1948 and 1982, securing the Israeli borders was used to carry on massive massacres. In both Arabs stood watching and the passing of almost 40 years has really changed nothing.
The magical tale of lovers meeting at the cave of Bab El Shams is a story in itself. It is when Younis sneaks into Palestine to meet his wife in secret, away from the Israeli forces. When they meet she tells him "I want you here with me, with us" then changes her mind on the spot telling him "You know, I do not want you here, here they will imprison you". It is when the freedom of our loved ones means more to us than having them with us. Each time they meet, she gets pregnant. Those meetings at the cave signify that Bab El Shams will remain a sacred ground that has not been violated by occupation—a space of love, magic and fertility. But not only the cave, inside each one of us there is a sacred place that has not and will not be violated by anything or anyone. That is how we survive painful experiences I guess....
The film is a beautiful individualistic human encounter of the Palestinian story, away from "al qadeyah". It made me reflect on a lot of things & events. For me it was very touching and at many points I found tears filling my eyes, not at the brutal scenes of burning the village or killing innocent unarmed people, for those I saw before in documentaries and read about in books, but at the tiny details that make everyday life and the sense of helplessness of those peasants. Of the most touching scenes that filled the film, I found those echoing in my head:
"ya set mesh ard men gheir dajaj a7san men dajaj men ghier ard" يا ست مش ارض من غير دجاج احسن من دجاج من غير ارضA group of Palestinian youth convincing a peasant to give them chicken so that they can exchange it for weapons from the Arab Rescue Army
"el 7ob wel watan, ma ben3refhom ela lama nefkedhom" الحب و الوطن ما بنعرفهم الا لما نفقدهم
The narrator commenting on Younis falling in love with his wife Nahila after he had to leave her and go to Lebanon to join the resistance
"benakol w benshrab, benam w bnefee2 wala sheey beytghayar" بناكل و بنشرب، بنام و بنفيق و لا شى بيتغيرAn old woman after settling in a refugee camp in Lebanon
"e7na mesh lag2een, e7na feda2yeen" احنا مش لاجئين، احنا فدائيينYounis shouting at a Lebanese officer in a refugee camp who was telling him that they are just guests and that they should be grateful that Lebanon took them
"sara2to dyarna w sharsh7touna, w hla gayeen te3lemoona el adab" سرقتوا ديارنا و شرشحتونا و هلا جايين تعلمونا الادبNahila to an Israeli interrogator when he was scorning her for admitting that she was a hooker
And finally the genius word of "Men El Awwal" that Younis keeps using after each defeat to reflect hope that things would change. It is just that we have to start tani men el awwal. After 1967, "men el awwal", after the 1970 Jordon massacres "men el awwal", after 1982 Sabra & Shatila "men el awwal", after Oslo "men el awwal", after Arafat died "men el awwal". And today in 2005, listening to Ms. Condy complmenting Abu Mazen on his courage to pursue real peace with Israel, I cannot think of a term better than "Men el Awwal"!!.