Paradise Now

I watched Paradise Now last night. It was a very good movie. It gives you some sense of how someone might become a suicide bomber. It showed the issue from different angels. Said, a boy whose father was a collaborator with Israelis and later got executed when he was 10, feels ashamed of what his father has done. He thinks what his father did was because of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. He has spent most of his life in refugee camps. He thinks his life is pointless anyway and by killing and getting killed he will help resistance continue. The other boy, Khaled, is a religious guy who thinks by killing some Israeli soldiers he will make a statement to the enemy that the resistance will continue and he will go to paradise.

What was interesting for me here was the role of people who were persuading these boys to go and get killed. Most of the suicide bombers get brainwashed. In the case of Muslim suicide bombers, Islam and its guidelines become a means in the process of brainwashing. While one of the important guidelines of Islam is that you should not harm yourself and while suicide is forbidden in Islam, the concept of Islamic Jihad is getting abused by the brainwashers to persuade vulnerable young people to do the suicide bombings. It is interesting for me that this double standard has not been problematized enough by Islamic intellectuals and theorists.

Of course I don’t mean to simplify different issues that cause suicide bombings. Reducing suicide bombing causes just to brainwashing is a simplistic idea for sure. In Paradise Now, the other causes that lead Khaled and Said to choose suicide bombing are shown through their dialogues with Suha, a young Moroccan-Palestinian woman who has recently come to the West Bank and is against violence. In their dialogues with Suha, they talk about their frustrations, the occupation, the injustice, and many other issues that have made their lives meaningless. Suha succeeds in changing Khaled’s mind, but the pending ending of the movie does not tell us what Said does in the end.

Paradise Now could have been a stronger movie, had it shown more of the other causes leading Palestinians to suicide bombing. Frustration of Palestinians, the oppression, and the injustice overshadowing their lives are not what we see in Hollywood everyday. Paradise Now could show more of this in the movie. This is exactly the same thing missing in Munich by Spielberg. In Munich, Spielberg shows the assassinations Moosad plans, but he shows it as if it was just an answer to what has been done by Palestinians in Munich Olympics. We don’t see much of the oppressions of Palestinians. All we see is how violence grows out of violence and we get the message that tit for tat is bad. This is a valuable message, especially when it comes from someone like Spielberg. But is this the whole story? Is this only a tit for tat? Or is it more than that? Will we ever see anything in Hollywood that shows the true nature of Palestinians’ oppressions?

*Read more about Paradise Now here.

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