<em>Pourquoi Israel (Israel, Why)</em>. 1973. France/Israel. Directed by Claude Lanzmann. Image courtesy of Claude Lanzmann and Why Not Productions
  • Israel, Why

    1973. France/Israel. Claude Lanzmann. 185 min.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 4:30 p.m.

Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1

  • Israel, Why

    1973. France/Israel. Directed by Claude Lanzmann. What is the s/State of Israel? On the eve of the Yom Kippur War, 25 years after the nation’s founding, Israel finds itself existentially threatened by Arab forces led by Egypt and Syria. Israel, Why is the first in Lanzmann’s landmark trilogy—to be followed by Shoah (1985) and Tsahal (1994)—that explores and questions the meaning of Jewishness and of Israel as a nation, an idea, and an ideal. The filmmaker conducts extended interviews—in the army, the prison, the kibbutz, the market, the boutique, the university, and the port; with citizens of Israel, visitors from the American Jewry, Holocaust survivors and their children, and newly arrived immigrants from Russia and Morocco—that are remarkable for their turmoil, contradiction, defiance, and yearning. Lanzmann exposes internal divisions of religion, class, politics, origins, and ethnicity as he investigates the roots and pervasiveness of anti-Semitism; the conflict between religion and a pluralist, secular democracy; spiritual devotion, the socialist ethos, and newfound material success; memory and memorialization; and the dream of home and homeland for Jews and Arabs alike. Throughout it all, the storms of war are gathering: as Ygal Yadin, the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 1949 to 1952 and a pioneering archeologist, observes, “It’s better to have Kafkas and Modiglianis, of course, but in this period we need pilots.” Courtesy Claude Lanzmann and Why Not Productions. In French, Hebrew, English; English subtitles. 185 min.