Culture, Israel

The Prescient Memories of "Censored Voices": A Review

Jewschool is proud to co-sponsor the Other Israel Film Festival on Nov 5-12, 2015, and this film “Censored Voices.” Learn more about our sponsored films, read reviews, and submit your own review.

Triumphant Israeli soldiers
The 1967 Arab-Israeli War broke out just as I was finishing second grade. My father was continuously riveted to the TV or the radio celebrating with the Israelis as they advanced on the enemy forces. We were all concerned about the welfare of our Israeli family. In six short days, I learned, Israel had heroically won against all odds in this David vs. Goliath story. I palpably remember my father’s exhilaration at “our” win.
Years later I befriended a Palestinian American, who told me about how her father was also glued to the TV and radio during the war. She remembers him swearing in anger at the TV screen while her mother was sobbing. After the war, they were sick with worry for weeks not knowing what had happened to close family and friends.
Israeli soldiers with Egyptian captives in Sinai. June, 1967. Israel film service
The new documentary “Censored Voices” reminds me of these memories in that it portrays a historical event from a fresh and sometimes startling perspective. It tells the story of the war through the experiences of foot soldiers from kibbutzim. The audio track is largely drawn from interviews of these former combatants conducted by the author Amoz Oz and the legendary editor Avram Shapira immediately following the war. The edited conversations were published at the time in a volume called Siah Lohamim (Combatants Dialogues) and in an abridged English version called The Seventh Day.
According to the filmmakers, 70% of the audio recordings were censored at the time. Luckily, the original conversations were preserved on tape and provide the souce material for the movie soundtrack
Near the beginning of the movie, Amos Oz explains how these soldiers who came home feted, as heroes had no safe place to talk openly about the reality of what they had just experienced. These recording sessions clearly performed an emotional function as well as recording history. The stories have an honesty and emotional edge one rarely hears, in particular about a war of such mythic proportions.
The filmmakers make extensive use of archival footage, illustrating the stories with facsimile footage. I was amazed at how familiar the images felt, as though I was being thrown back in time to my childhood. Throughout the movie, one experiences the immediacy of the war yet by showing the men in the present time listening to their own stories, you are reminded about how long it has been – nearly 50 years.
Mor Loushy, director of “Censored Voices”
It is the uncomfortable reflections looking back that form the core of the movie. We learn that not only was there brutality on the Israeli side during the Six Day but that the potential dangers of the Occupation were seen as it was happening. This is a must-see movie for those who want to understand the origins and the impact of this central historic event produced in a format accessible to a popular audience.

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