Artist, activist, filmmaker (and much more) Nina Paley might just have succeeded were corps of cognoscenti and commentators have been left foundering. Their line of inquiry, topical yet perpetual, has been, “Why can’t there be peace in the Middle East?” In her masterful and stunning animated short, This Land is Mine, Nina Paley knocks that question back with a quick regional history recap. In three and half minutes Paley gives us an inkling of how blood-soaked a comparatively tiny spit of land can get, and how easily the blood-letting over that land—above it, on it, for it—becomes a habit of geography.
This Land is Mine is rumored to be part of a longer Paley opus: Seder-Masochism, much promised and anticipated, and evidently under construction. While we wait for that gem, thanks to Nina Paley’s gracious and farsighted Creative Commons policies, we can enjoy This Land is Mine, a musical idyll on one region’s most venerable tradition…immediately followed by Nina’s own libretto, Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide.
Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide
Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!
This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.
What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.
Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…
….Assyria controlled it other times.
The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.
Then the Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.
Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!
No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.
Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)
More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.
This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.
Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…
….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…
….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.
Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.
Mamluk of Egypt
Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.
Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.
A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.
The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.
The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….
Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…
State of Israel
Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.
Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?
The Angel of Death
The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.