Crying Out for Justice, by David Bax
Vibeke Løkkeberg’s Tears of Gaza is not a fair and balanced piece of reportage. It’s not meant to be. It covers the 2008/2009 bombing of Gaza by Israel solely from the Palestinian point of view and follows up on the lives of affected children after the fact. The point made – and made clearly – is that war of any stripe is rarely balanced and never fair.
Tears begins with interviews of children who survived the bombing. They are asked the same question every child the world over is asked countless times. What do you want to be when you grow up? Their answers are similar to the ones we might get from children here in the United States. They want to be doctors and lawyers and such. But their reasons are specific to the survivors of war. They want to seek justice for what was done, help people who have been hurt by their enemies and see those enemies punished.
Not only does not one bit of Løkkeberg’s footage come from anywhere outside of Palestine, the impetus of Israel’s bombing is never even acknowledged. To us, the viewers, the cause of the attack is as inconsequential as it must have been to most of those who suffered through it. For the most part, these are people whose only crime was living where they did.
All of the footage from after the bombings was produced by Løkkeberg herself but the extensive and deeply upsetting images from those awful days were captured by various Palestinians on the ground at the time. It is gut-wrenching and unflinching. If you feel the urge to look away from the screen during sustained shots of dead bodies and body parts belonging to Palestinians of all ages, you’d have good reason as a human being. In fact, you’ll likely use those moments of diversion to consider if there is anything in the world that could justify this sickening outcome. When the camera stares into the dead eyes of a naked seven-year-old whose body has been riddled with bullets, there are few possible reactions apart from sadness and rage.
In many ways, the title of this film is quite literal. Copious tears flow from survivors for whom the word grief does no justice to their torment. When considering the future of these young children, though, a deeper meaning is hinted at. Perhaps these tears of Gaza will water the seeds of animosity that will fuel another generation of war and strife. It’s not optimistic but it’s the truth. There’s nothing fair or balanced about it.