The Othering of Palestinians in Film: Munich (2006) and Waltz with Bashir (2009)
This paper is a critical textual analysis of two of the most popular and critically acclaimed non-documentary films on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The wide array of popular films on Israel and Palestine released in the past two decades, and the myriad perspectives they present, call for a more current critical textual analysis, as some of these films have been very well-received by audiences worldwide and have garnered numerous international film awards. These films include Divine Intervention (2002), Munich (2006), Miral (2010), Ajami (2010), and Waltz with Bashir (2009), to name a few. Film provides a popular medium through which we find an active Othering of Palestinians, sometimes even in films that have set out to upend dominant narratives. By undertaking a textual analysis of two of these films, Munich and Waltz with Bashir, and utilising works on collective memory along with elements of critical race theory, this paper discusses some problematic aspects of modern film representations of Arabs in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This study carries implications for both historical and political studies of this conflict, and for communications theory by delving more deeply into media depictions of race, ethnicity, and nationality amidst the Arab-Israeli conflict. It also raises questions as to the dominance of Orientalism and neo-Orientalism in media depictions of Palestine and Palestinians and how that may be changing due to an emerging ‘Palestinian narrative’ in recent films. Furthermore, by lending a critical eye towards these films, we can take a more accurate look at the larger historiography and media landscape surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict and observe how recent political developments ‘on the ground’ have, or have not, influenced depictions of the conflict and the region.