The Cultural Intifada
Udi Aloni tells three stories of living in Zakaria Zubeidi’s house. The is the first one: the cultural Intifada.
Eleven years ago, I moved to Jenin to Zakaria Zubeidi’s house to help my beloved friend, Juliano Mer Khamis, at the Freedom Theatre. My job was to teach film, and my student Mustafa wanted to film a night-time car chase inside the narrow streets of the camp at the end of which the protagonist murders Mariam, in an act of a misogyny. The only one who was able to drive in reverse on the camp streets was Zakaria Zubeidi, who got into the red Toyota belonging to none other than my mother
And so, in the middle of the night, we filmed Zakaria, the number one wanted person in Israel, is driving in reverse a belonging to Israel’s former education minister, Shulamit Aloni. When we got to the place where the shooting was supposed to be filmed, I insisted on proper lighting because I am the film teacher. No problem, the students said, and stole (or disassembled) a particularly powerful arc lamp from the theatre that we connected to the wiring at Zakaria’s house. The lighting was a bit dramatic, and I was holding the lamp aiming to produce a natural appearance for the late actor Rabi, who used to be one of Zakaria’s warriors but after collecting three bullets in the kidneys became a theatre actor, where he found his happiness and later his death. Anyway, I shone the light on Rabi’s hand holding a gun, because it should be done as if he was shooting Zakaria’s gun, and Mustafa was taking a close-up shot. I explained that on the next day in the editing room I will teach the students how to create a shooting effect. Mustafa refuses and argued that if the bullet casing is not ejected from the gun, everyone would know that it is fake. Zakaria didn’t wait a second and said, no problem I will load the gun with real bullets, Mustafa will be able to photograph me shooting in close-up and then I will cut to Rabi with a long shot as if he is shooting. I was shocked a bit at Zakaria’s knowledge, but before I could resist he had already loaded the cartridge and was ready to fire. I was still holding the arc lamp with my hands up, aiming at Zakaria’s hands, and Mustafa aiming the focus at our Sony camera. The time was 1am.
Suddenly I realised that if the army were to enter the camp as it has done many times before, they will see yours faithfully with his hands up holding an arc lamp and Zakaria Zubeidi holding a loaded gun, and it will probably end very badly, anyway: A chubby Jew with hands up in the air holding a lamp in the middle of the night, and a loaded gun in the Jenin refugee camp looks more like a kidnapping than a movie. But as these terrifying thoughts swirled in my head, I suddenly burst out laughing. Juliano just arrived with a bottle of Black Label, quite admiring the set we had created in the middle of the night, and asked me what was so funny.
And I answer that I suddenly realised that this is the scene that explains everything, Zakaria Zubeidi from the second intifada shoots a gun, while Mustafa shoots the scene with his camera, thus authenticating Juliano’s vision that the Third Intifada will be a cultural Intifada, and with the Intifada’s baton transferring from the gun to the camera. And my role in the Freedom Theatre comes down to teaching how to properly illuminate the founding event.
(Translated by Sol Salbe)