In order to fully understand the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict, the history of the land must be discussed. According to James Gelvin, in the book The Modern Middle East, the Palestine-Israel dispute “is, simply put, a real estate dispute” (Gelvin 217). Both the Zionist, Jewish immigrants, and the Palestinian Arabs demand the Palestinian land. Prior to the United Nations vote on Palestine (the land), “a civil war broke out between the two communities” (224). Zionism gave a religious community the right to call itself a nation in a way that the Palestinian national movement could not uphold.
This is due to the “fact that Palestinian nationalism developed later than Zionism” and divisions within the Arab community (222). In James Gelvin’s book, The Modern Middle East, and Hany Abu-Assad’s film, Rana’s Wedding, the threat and actualization of violence from both the Israelis and Palestinians highlighted a historical, unequal, hegemonic dynamic and illuminates the question of choice and resistance during the war. The potential and actualized violence discussed in The Modern Middle East and seen in Rana’s Wedding, reflect the tension of the war. In Rana’s Wedding, Rana is kicking a can when she comes across three men staring at her.
She walked with trepidation and uncertainty past them. When viewing this you question what she is uncertain or afraid of. It may be of what the men may do to her. This idea of potential violence is important in the movie because it shows the tension of the time and the war. Any moment carried a potential for violence and conflict (12:28). Another example of the potential violence occurred not long after that scene, when Rana was attempting to make another phone call. Her phone dies and she gets vocally aggressive as a response. The soldiers sitting across from her all stand and release the safety on their guns.
This scene juxtaposes the unarmed civilian against the Israeli militants. They are all prepared to attack because of a frustrated woman with a cellphone. She holds up her phone to show the object, so the soldiers can back down (16:40). A show of actualized violence can be seen in the scene where the children are throwing rocks at soldiers who are firing large military guns at them. One child gets shot. Rana is caught in the middle of the cross fire and throws a rock at the soldiers (22:08). In the movie Rana is afraid. Similarly to the children, she doesn’t place herself at the front lines of the war.
She lives in Israel, and is not fighting this war herself. She is, mainly, a passive bystander of the violence, but as an individual she resists the effects of the war. Another example of actualized violence in Rana’s Wedding is when Rana is at her sister’s house. She is looking out the window as people are bulldozing the area next to the home. The sister says, “Are you crazy? Your father agrees, but you leave? So that’s what you do? ” Rana responds with, “I was afraid” (53:08). This scene shows the destruction that is occurring all around and the destruction Rana feels.
The bulldozed buildings are in the background as she is staring at the Israeli soldiers with their guns raised lined near the home. Her normalcy is gone. She has to hope, reimagine, and reconstruct a new normal under the Israeli occupation. At 59:13, clips are played of videos from the cameras spread across the area. They show civilian settings where the Israeli occupation has caused change. The changes include: satellite dishes on top of homes, women continuing to dress conservatively/traditional while the men dress more western, changes in architecture, and the presence of in the daily lives of civilians.
The violence discussed in The Modern Middle East and seen in Rana’s Wedding highlighted a historical, unequal, hegemonic dynamic between Palestine and Israel. The war caused major destruction to Palestine (the nation). According to Gelvin, “about 720,000 Palestinians fled their homes and were trapped behind enemy lines, unable to return”(224). Two factors that could have led to the Palestinain refugee problem are: “Palestinians, like most refugees, naturally fled from a war zone” and the “calculated expulsions…by acts of terror committed by Zionist forces”(225).
Rana’s family is a Palestinian family living in Israel. In the scene where Rana is at her sister’s house, she is looking out the window as people are bulldozing the area next to the home. The sister says, “Are you crazy? Your father agrees, but you leave? So that’s what you do? ” Rana responds with, “I was afraid. ” (53:08). Throughout the movie, Rana is questioning herself about the future, both near future decisions and things distant into the future. At times it is unsure which question she is asking. This scene shows the destruction that is occurring all around and the destruction Rana feels.
The bulldozed buildings are in the background as she is staring at the Israeli soldiers with their guns raised lined near the home. Her normalcy is gone. She has to hope, reimagine, and reconstruct a new normal under the Israeli occupation. This is the cause of her fear. She cannot imagine the future when her present is demolished. James Gelvin’s book, The Modern Middle East, and Hany Abu-Assad’s film, Rana’s Wedding, question the possibility and extent of resistance and choice during the war. Through Rana’s resistance of her father’s power over her she is resisting the Israeli occupation.
At the beginning of the movie (3:15), the main conflicts/problems is introduced: the decision between the list of groomsmen she must choose from or moving to Egypt with her father by Tuesday at four. Rana says after she reads her father’s letter: “No more time for doubts. I have to make up my mind” (3:49). She has to take charge of her life and make decisions. She can either passively do what her father asks or do what she wants. This is similar to the choice the Palestinians had to make. They could either do what the Israeli’s want and leave, or fight for their land. But, she tells the registrar that she doesn’t “want any of them”(4:11).
Palestine (the nation) attempted to resist Zionism through occupying land, property destruction, and committing violence against settlers (221). Who gets to choose? What kinds of choices are being made? The movie shows how some have an easier time making choices than others because some have privilege over others. Migration is a choice for Rana’s father. His economic privilege gives his the choice to cross borders and escape. He also has the privilege of being an Israeli citizen. He gets to own a passport which gives him access through boundaries which others are not able to cross. Many others did not have this privilege.
They did not have the choice to migrate. Some had to migrate in order to survive, so they could not stay in Israel during the war. Others could not leave. On a microscale, this is a form of power imbalance. With economic and identity privilege, Rana and her father are able to do more than other Palestinians living outside of Israel. They are able to have more of a choice. According to the book, “most Palestinian refugees ended up in the West Bank (which was occupied by Jordan until 1967), the Gaza Strip (which was occupied by the Egyptians until the same year), and neighboring Arab countries.
Those who had an education or money tried to rebuild their lives as best they could on their own. Others who were not so lucky ended up in camps supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), where they and their descendants have lived to this very day. Those Palestinians who remained in Israel were subject to martial law until 1966”(225-226). This movie battles with whether Rana truly has a choice and the power to make decisions in her life. Her father gives her a list of people whom she does not want to pick any of to marry.
She wants to marry her significant other: Khalil, but he is not what her father wants for her. When the registrar and Rana’s father are discussing her marriage, she gets out of the car, refusing to be a passive bystander in life like she is in the war. She is listening in to the conversation her father and the registrar are having. Her father believes that “she is still immature” because “she thinks marriage is about love”(48:45)! She was given a false sense of choice. She either had to choose from a preselected list or goes to Egypt.
No matter what she would have been doing what her father wanted. Her form of resistance was working outside of the system. Rana is choosing to get married to her significant other although the process is tedious and difficult. Rana’s form of combatting oppression is through everyday resistance. She is resisting life under the Israeli occupation through hidden and unsuspecting ways. She refuses to be stopped on her mission to get married. This is even when they must wait for the necessary papers from the registrar’s office and it seems like there is no hope.
She continues to live life by her decisions even though the process in which she moves through space (her space) has been hindered. Her subtle non-cooperation of the societal norms, and challenges to men is a persistent form of individual, personal resistance against the war. Both James Gelvin’s book, The Modern Middle East, and Hany Abu-Assad’s film, Rana’s Wedding, discuss violence from both the Israelis and Palestinians. This violence highlighted a historical, unequal, hegemonic dynamic between in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It led to the question of choice and resistance during times of war.