THE INNER TOUR (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2001)

Among the recent spate of Israeli films (made prior to the Second Intifada beginning September 2000) that attempt to “humanize” Palestinians, The Inner Tour, co-produced by Israelis and Palestinians, may be the most melancholy and moving. Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s documentary revolves around a situation that the Palestinian uprising has made no longer possible: a three-day journey by bus of West Bank Palestinians into Israel. Theirs is a drama of separation and loss.
     A young man from Ramallah explains to an Italian tourist that he cannot go to Lebanon, where his mother lives, because he has a Palestinian passport. He also is a tourist. He tells the young woman, “I am visiting Palestine.”
     The film is divided into chapters. This is the title of the second chapter: “Years pass, and for us time stands still.” These words come from a member of the group who was among those displaced in 1948—an old man full of memories. The third chapter also takes its title from one of his remarks. During the bus ride, he explains, he sometimes must close his eyes: “I don’t want to see, I don’t want to see.”
     At a museum, photographs show conflicts between Arabs and Jews in the 1930s. “Were any Arabs killed?” one of the Palestinians asks about a particular episode. The curator doesn’t know but reports that ten Jews were killed. A recurrent sight during the bus tour: the “Golden Arches” announcing a McDonald’s—the propylaeum that is emblematic of both globalization and U.S. commercialism.
     The young man waves to his mother through the barbed-wire fence, over which they throw packages to one another. (“How are you, my son? How are your studies going?”) The old man visits his father’s grave. “Our land,” he tells a tour companion, “reaches to the green over there.”

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