Complexity and Commonality in 'Ajami'

This complex Israeli production lays out in great detail the lives of Jews, Muslims and Christians as they interact both in Israel and the West Bank.

At the end of the film, I met two old friends-MB and her husband TS. She, a great author, had just seen Ajami and described it as "wonderful and wrenching." I agree with her and would only add that the writer was as fair to all sides in that great religious conflict as anyone could be.

The central characters in the movie include a Muslim family that becomes involved in a blood war with a Bedouin West Bank clan. The family members, knowing that that they will all be killed if the conflict isn't resolved, seek to end it with a cash payment. The leading members of the family are Omar (Shahir Kabaha) and his younger brother, Nasri (Fouad Habash). Omar is in love with Hadir (Ranin Karim), and their relationship involves much drama similar to Romeo and Juliet.

An Israeli family includes Dando (Eran Naim), a member of the Israeli police force and the brother of an Israeli soldier who is missing and feared dead.

A secondary story involves a Muslim boy, Malek (Ibrahim Frege), whose mother needs an operation. Malek has to raise the $75,000 for her surgery. Another story involves the use and sale of cocaine by Arab youths and the involvement of Israeli organized crime members.

What comes through is that the troubles besetting Muslims and Jews and their emotional responses are similar in nature. The people involved have so much in common. They should work together to fight those common problems instead of putting so much of their energies into hating one another.

I saw the film at 8:00 p.m. at the Quad Cinema on a Saturday night. The theater was packed so be sure to purchase your tickets well in advance. (In Arabic and Hebrew, with English subtitles.)

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Ed Koch was mayor of NYC from 1978 to 1989. He's credited with restoring fiscal stability to the city and creating affordable housing. He's also a film buff. More

Mayor Koch saved New York City from bankruptcy and restored the pride of New Yorkers during his three terms as mayor from 1978-1989. He restored fiscal stability by placing the city on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget. He created a housing program that provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing and created New York City's first merit judicial selection system. Prior to being mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. He was drafted into the Army his last year of college and served with the 104th Infantry Division. He received two battle stars and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. He received his LL.B. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and hosts a call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR). Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television and is the author of ten autobiographical books.

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