Amreeka, a film by Cherien Dabis (official site) about a single mother who makes her way from the West Bank to rural Illinois with her teenaged son, is now playing in New York. By the end of the month, this Palestinian take on the old “Coming to America” formula will be in theaters across the country. I sorta can’t wait.
Lately I’ve noticed I’m becoming more and more in sync with all things Palestine. As long as it’s not explicitly about the long war or nationalist politics, I can’t resist a Palestinian cultural experience. I root for their athletes. I read their [English-language] blogs. Seeing Palestinian individuals succeed has started giving me a kind of nachat I tend to associate with taking pride in the accomplishments of Israelis – or Jews – or New Yorkers. You know, my people.
I guess it was bound to happen. Stay linked to someone long enough, even through violence and terrorism and occupation, and you start to rub off on each other. Daniel Pipes has a whole website devoted to showing how Palestinian nationalists use Zionist rhetoric and concepts. This bugs the hell out of him, but I wonder what else would anyone expect? We eat their food. They use our organizing principles. We employ them. They trade agricultural products with us. We love their homeland a little too much, they love ours just as terribly, and certainly we both know what it’s like to be disposessed of our homes and turned into geopolitical pawns. The tightly linked infrastructures, economies, and cultural resources of Israel and Palestine are sometimes pointed to by one-state advocates claiming that two countries between the Jordan and the Sea are one too many. I may disagree, but I think it’s clear that there’s something connective, something almost familial going on in Canaan. We and the Palestinians may be more “killing” cousins than “kissing” cousins most of the time, but to me it seems we’re cousins nonetheless.
So this is my hearty Mabrouk & Mazal Tov to Ms. Dabis and to the cast and crew of Amreeka (including Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and at least one guy with the name of an American Jew). You’ll be getting my $9.50 down at the Landmark soon enough.
For further reading: Tablet Mag asks, “Is a film about Palestinians inherently political?” Aliza Hausman points out that “People ask the same question about Israeli [films.]” The Onion’s A.V. Club gave it a C+. It was designated a New York Times “Critic’s Pick“.