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.)