Salt of This Sea

I watched Salt of This Sea and found it to be very enlightening of the treatment of Arabs in Israel.  Soraya, the daughter of Palestinian refugees who ended up in Brooklyn, New York, goes back to Israel to live in Rahmallah on the West Bank.  In a sense she is going back to her roots, or going “home”.  Part of Soraya’s goal in moving back to Israel is to connect further with her heritage and nothing will stop her.  When the bank refuses to give her her grandfather’s money, she robs it.  When visiting Jaffa, the city where her family is from, is difficult because it is outside of the West Bank, she and her friends pretend to be Jewish and sneak through a check point.  The movie ends with them being found out as “illegal” Palestinians and she gets “exiled” again and sent back to the USA.

What really fascinated in Salt of This Sea’s was its portrayal of different types of Palestinians: the Palestinian who lives in Israel, and the exilic Palestinian.  Emad has lived in the West Bank his entire life.  There is a long and emotional scene in which he is showing the horizon to Soraya and pointing out different places.  He points to a settlement, Tel Aviv and the sea.  In the end he mentions how he has not been to the sea in years and how he has not left Rahmallah in years.  All he wants is to leave behind the oppression and go to Canada.  Soraya on the other hand, an example of an exilic Palestinian, willingly returns to Israel and tries her hardest to stay.  Even after experiencing different forms of the Occupations oppression, such as having to take off her clothing during immigration, Soraya maintains her idyllic view of her homeland.  There is a clash between the realistic Palestine and the idealized Palestine and this is shown in an argument between Soraya and Emad.  She has just described to Emad an idealized Jaffa with oranges in the streets when they started to argue about whether she should have lied about her purpose for visiting Israel. Emad argued that she should have while Soraya was against lying and was proud to say she was a Palestinian.    The argument ends with Emad accusing her of being stubborn and idealistic.  “You think Palestine is just oranges? Jaffa oranges?  What a fantasy!”

Finally two links that don’t have to do with Salt of This Sea but with the main actress Suheir Hammad who is also a famous poet.  “First Writing Since” is her reaction to the 9/11 attacks and the resulting hatred of Arabs and Islam in the USA.  \”First Writing Since\”Performance of \”First Writing Since\”

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1 Response to Salt of This Sea

  1. As I was also able to watch Salt of This Sea, I thought it would be interesting to click the link you posted at the bottom of your blog to see some other examples of Suheir Hammad’s work. I was able to find that she is a political activist along with her work as an actress and poet–it seems she is able to mesh her activist side in her poetry and acting.

    The “First Writing Since” piece is a pretty moving and eye-opening read. Being from New York myself, I was very aware of the initial feelings of anger that were generalized to Palestinian people, and even anyone who was middle-eastern to a certian extent, when the media showed the people celebrating in the streets after the attacks on 9/11. However, this piece shows how that is an irrational feeling to have over such a large group of people, and it is not fair to judge an entire race or religion on the despicable acts of so few. I think Suheir Hammad did a tremendous job sending strong messages in the two works of her’s that I have experienced.

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