Coming to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, April 4:
THE RUINS OF LIFTA
Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky
NYC theatrical release (September 2016)
An Orthodox Jewish American works with a Palestinian/Israeli coalition to try to preserve the remnants of a threatened Arab village in East Jerusalem.
Co-director Menachem Daum here serves as narrator and on-screen guide in this personal reckoning with the legacies of both the Holocaust and the Nakba (the mass displacement of Arab Palestinians in 1948). The son of Holocaust survivors and the nephew of a staunch Zionist, Daum has in more recent years struggled with the anti-Palestinian sentiments with which he was raised. When he learns about Lifta, an Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem which has lain abandoned since the 1948 war, but which, for some reason, was never destroyed. When a development plan calls for Lifta to finally be destroyed to make way for luxury Israeli homes, this catalyzes former Lifta residents, other Palestinians, and progressive Jewish Israelis to band together to protest, recognizing that to destroy Lifta erases yet another vestige of the region’s Palestinian past. Daum becomes involved in the coalition, together with his Arab friend Yacoub, but soon comes to understand the deep-seated roadblocks to cooperation when Palestinian members of the cohort bristle at the idea of working with Israelis while the occupation is still ongoing. While the group scores a temporary victory, Daum ultimately realizes that the complexity of the larger conflict within the region cannot solely be understood through the lens of the Holocaust, and must consider the Palestinian narrative as well. While the story of Lifta is an intriguing one to focus the Israeli/Palestinian question, the film’s too personal approach is ultimately to its detriment, adding unnecessary threads and weak narration to what might otherwise have been more compelling.