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Novel gets to truth of Sabra and Shatila

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Israel's invasion of Lebanon and subsequent 22-year-long occupation has been the focus of three acclaimed Israeli films in recent years: Lebanon, Waltz with Bashir and Beaufort tell the story of this era from the perspective of the occupiers. All young men serving in the Israeli army, the films' protagonists question their roles in Lebanon.

However, this narrative perspective leads the viewer to empathize with the occupier and thus do little other than reinforce a simplistic falsification of Israel's history as a country always conflicted when waging necessary wars of self-defense. This is the narrative that continues to dominate the Western media.


Not one of these films makes the slightest attempt to humanize Israel's victims or tell the story from their perspective. In contrast, UK author Mischa Hiller's first novel,
Sabra Zoo is told through the eyes of a young man named Ivan. Sabra Zoo follows the adventures of this son of a Dutch mother and Palestinian father who serves as an officer in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut during the most intense period of Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

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