I watched the trailer and some of the other promo materials for the film Freedom Writers, and I started crying. Didn’t stop till it was over.

I cried for the LA kids who were given the redemptive gift of writing, but also because their stories are exactly the same as the situation here. Palestinian kids are shooting Israeli kids and vice versa. It’s all about race and territory.

http://www.freedomwriters.com/

Check it out.

I’m reading a book right now called Dancing Arabs. There’s a good review here:

http://www.lailalalami.com/blog/archives/001367.html

It’s a story about the confused identity of an Arab Israeli whose father was “detained” for five years in connection with the bombing of the Hebrew University cafeteria in the 1960’s. I didn’t know that when I started the book. But I had to put it down for a couple of days after reading that part in the book. Some students from Pardes were killed in a more recent explosion in the Hebrew U Cafeteira. I didn’t know them personally, but I read their stories, and I commemorated their Yahrzeit, the day of their death, by studying with the other students at Pardes, in their honor.

This book I was reading was about the innocent son of someone related to that other bombing, and I didn’t want to read it anymore. My compassion for the protagonist dried up.

So many people have so much more cause to hate, but even I from this great distance, felt strong feelings at this generational repetition of the same acts of violence, and I focused it on this OTHER guy I didn’t even know, the author of the book, whom the fictional protagonist may or may not have been based upon.

I am almost finished with the book now. The protagonist’s identity confusion is so clearly rooted in his circumstances. His self-hatred and depression seem unescapable. His course in life a kind of destiny rooted in the sins of his fathers (on both sides of the conflict).

BOth Freedom Writers and Dancing Arabs offer a kind of redemtion through writing, and the gift of telling stories to other people, and growing compassion that way.

I wish I felt cleaner; I wish my compassion wasn’t mixed with fear and hatred and anger. But maybe that’s a start.