Capernaum: A film review
When I heard that the movie Capernaum was short-listed for a foreign film Oscar, I braced myself. Capernaum was a fishing village established during the time of the Hasmoneans, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The trailer for the film showed squalid scenes of Arabs squeezed into makeshift homes on streets with running sewers and diapered children hungry and weeping.
Another tale, I told myself, of the "Palestinian Arab refugee" camps maintained by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to be used and recycled as Potemkin proof of Arab dislocation and Israel's tyranny.
In Arabic, "capernaum" means chaotic and disorderly. The locus of the movie is actually Beirut, where unregistered Syrian refugees live in unspeakable conditions. Amenities such as potable water, electricity, proper housing, and medical care are virtually nonexistent. Children have no birth records or schooling. Their lives consist of begging or stealing for crumbs. Girls as young as eleven are sold to degenerate grooms. Menial jobs amount to slavery. The conditions in jail are inhuman. Infants in diapers wander the mean streets, often abandoned by their parents and multiple siblings.
Zain, the lead character, about twelve and desperate and illiterate, runs away from home after his sister is sold to a sexual predator for a few chickens. An Eritrean refugee takes him in and feeds him, but he is obliged to care for her baby. When she is jailed and fails to return, Zain's efforts to find her and take care of the baby become impossible, and he relinquishes the child's care to a vendor who traffics in humans.
The young actor who plays Zain, one of the dispossessed children who suffer daily blows, had no acting experience. The scene where he voices his desire to sue his parents for being born is heart-wrenching.
The movie's director, Nadine Labaki, revealed in an interview that there are thousands upon thousands of children doomed to these conditions, throughout the Middle East and the world. The film has won accolades and awards. It has been described as "powerful" and "heartbreaking" and "nerve-shredding."
Are not all children born innocent? Too many in our nation grow into ignorant snowflakes with selective outrage. They ignore brutal tribal wars and kidnappings and rape and human-trafficking and bestial treatment of women and girls throughout the world. They ignore infant genital mutilation and the use of children and infants as human shields by terrorists.
After watching the film, many questions hang in the air:
First: Where is UNRWA, which has made Palestinian refugees, a fourth-generation heritable sham to use as a propaganda tool to delegitimize Israel?
Second: Where is the humanitarian help from the oil-rich Arab nations?
Third: Where is the international outrage that Arabs treat their fellow Arabs in such an abominable way?
Fourth: Where is the response from all the hypocritical groupies who target their venom against Israel while ignoring the disaster perpetrated against innocent children caught in the crosshairs of Arab nations' wars?