Here are a few more scattered and hopefully better than mediocre thoughts about Encounter Point. In the documentary we meet several Israelis and Palestinians who join the Bereaved Families Forum, a group in which Palestinians and Israelis who have lost family members in the conflict advocate nonviolence and reconciliation together. One of these people is Robi, profiled on the film’s website:
In 2002 a Palestinian sniper killed a group of Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint. Robi’s son David was one of them. Robi is haunted by the loss of her son, and the knowledge that he was posted to defend an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory to which he was politically opposed. After David was killed, Robi joined the Bereaved Families Forum. She speaks in support of Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation throughout Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and internationally. Robi says that all of her work is aimed at furthering understanding between the Israeli and Palestinian people.
Towards the end of the film, Robi learns that the sniper that killed her son and subsequently became a folk hero was arrested by Israeli authorities. She decides to reach out to the family by writing a letter with the intent of meeting both the family and the sniper himself, all of whom were quite willing to meet her. This is both moving, but also gestures towards a sophisticated ethical position. Throughout the film we hear both Palestinians and Israelis expressing similar positions, namely, “we don’t have to forgive in order to reconcile.” On the way out of the theater I overheard the people in front of me talking to each other, one of whom suggested that the film documents a Christian ethic of love thy neighbor, turning the other cheek etc. This seems very wrong to me. In fact, I’d venture to say that such an ethical position has little to do with Christian ethics. Now, the documentary itself conjured up a number of themes/concepts dealt with by Derrida and Levinas. Not least, encounter, hospitality, forgiveness, trauma and ethics. Continue reading