"Living in a movie" (likhyot be-seret) is a Hebrew slang expression that means being detached from reality or living in a parallel universe.
That expression came to mind when Israel yesterday celebrated - justifiably so - the nomination of two Israeli documentaries as finalists for the Academy Awards.
Like other Israelis, I too celebrated the achievement. It's a brilliant feather in the cap of Israel's cinema industry, which is vibrant and sophisticated and is consistently producing excellent films, both documentaries and fiction.
Almost absent from the discussion in the Israeli media of these two documentaries, "Five Broken Cameras" and "The Gatekeepers," was the recognition that fact that these two movies are harsh indictments of the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and its festering destructive impact on both Israelis and Palestinians.
The fact that the nominations come at a time of an Israeli election campaign that - contrary to past elections - is almost detached from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only enhances the sense of irony.
The point is that Hollywood's salute to these two documentaries is not only a recognition of their mastery. And, yes, they are both masterful creations. I recently watched The Gatekeepers and the movie and left the tiny screening room in Tel Aviv in tears, physically shaking. The point is that Hollywood - like the rest of America and the rest of the world - sees Israel through the prism of its conflict with the Palestinians and truly yearns for an end to the occupation.
Hollywood, like the rest of America and the world, therefore embraces dissenting voices from Israel, ones that are seeking to end the occupation rather than to perpetuate it.
The bitter Irony is that while the world is anxiously seeking an end to this ugly anomaly, to this hump that Israel has been carrying on its back since 1967, while the world sees where the occupation is taking Israel, how it distances Israel from the family of nations, so many Israelis prefer to turn their faces away from this problem.
Pretending that the world will always embrace Israel, warts and all, is "living in a movie." Hollywood embraced these two movies both because they are good and Israeli, but also because of their subject matter. They deal with the reality that matters, the one that threatens to turn Israel into a bi-national state that is neither Jewish nor democratic.
So let's not live in a movie. Let's take advantage of these new films, and of others that deal with the occupation, to help end it.
Update (January 20th): I am told that "Five Broken Cameras'" director, Israeli Guy Davidi, has clarified that the film is not an Israeli production but rather a French-Palestinian-Israeli co-production. The Palestinian media, by the way, have been referring to the film as a Palestinian production.
For a link to a fresh interview with the director of The Gatekeepers
For a fresh article by Gershom Gorenberg on the movie
For a review of Five Broken Cameras