While I'm sure no one is happy that war is about to break out in the Middle East after Israel's targeted assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari on Wednesday, the timing couldn't be more perfect for this week's Film Forum release of "The Law In These Parts," Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's sound attack on the Israeli legal system that has sanctioned the illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian peoples. As the UN Security Council meets in an emergency session and rockets fire from the Gaza Strip, killing Israelis in retaliation, Alexandrowicz's compelling documentary explores how we got into this mess in the first place.
I've written about the film numerous times since it's Sundance premiere and prize, but here are some highlights from my story published over at mu SundanceNow Docutopia site.
Directed by Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, “The Law in These Parts” effectively puts former Israeli military justices and prosecutors on trial for the way they’ve colluded with the IDF to sustain an unjust society and keep Palestinians under control.
Alexandrowicz places his interviewees literally atop a platform and interrogates them about the way in which the State of Israel has set the ground-rules for legalized oppression (from circumventing the Geneva Convention and using inhumane and extreme interrogation techniques, to finding new ways to claim Palestinian land for “security” reasons).
The interviewees are unbending as they are blunt, saying things like “security comes before human rights.” Or as one judge says, “Order and justice don’t always go hand in hand.”
5 Broken Cameras is heated; The Law in These Parts is dispassionate. But like Burnat’s film, it is also self-reflexively questions its own truth-value. Alexandrowicz places his subjects in an artificial set and presents himself, in silhouette, asking questions about the definition of documentary and history.
As with 5 Broken Cameras, Law’s formal conceit is crucial. When everything about Israel and Palestine is distilled through highly biased perspectives, it’s necessary to question what we’re seeing and what’s being said. Alexandrowicz, by including himself, also suggests his own culpability as an Israeli citizen; as he himself admits, one man’s freedom is another man’s repression.