The Attack is another fine film that illustrates many of the complexities in the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews. The story is about a Palestinian physician in Tel Aviv who has just received the highest honor for a surgeon in Israel. He gets a telephone call just as he is being introduced at the ceremony, but says he will call back. It is his wife, who has not been able to attend, and when he tries to reach her later, he discovers she has accidently left her cell phone at home.
The next day, his hospital is beset with emergencies following a bomb attack in the city. It is not clear whether the bomb was left in the restaurant at an earlier time, or whether it was carried in by a suicide bomber. The story thereafter is about uncovering the mystery, and Dr. Amin Jaafari’s (Ali Suliman) searching for his wife, who has not returned from a visit to her hometown in Nazareth, the largest city in the North District of Israel, populated primarily by Muslims and Christians. His wife is a Christian.
As Dr. Jaafari searches for answers as to the whereabouts of his wife, who has not returned home at the expected time, he encounters suspicions by both the Israelis he works with and the people in Siham’s (Reymond Amsalam) hometown. But he is undeterred, and continues to ask questions everywhere he goes. Unfortunately, it turns out his wife also died in the bombing, which not only devastates him, but forces him to question how/why she was there and their relationship in general.
Ali Suliman, who played Warzer Zafir in the TV show “Homeland”, is well cast in this role as an esteemed surgeon who takes it upon himself to be a detective and find out what happened to his wife. He makes a visit to the Nazareth area where he and Sihim are from, and talk to relatives who are happy to help, until it puts them in a compromising position with the locals. He encounters the same distancing from his Israeli friends who now begin to question his loyalty.
The writer/director (Ziad Doueliri) is from Lebanon, and he keeps a neutral position throughout the film. Nevertheless, The Attack has been banned by the Arab League in 22 countries, simply because part of it was filmed in Israel and has an Israeli actress, and because it did not take sides (against the Jews). But it is precisely this neutrality that makes The Attack such a great film, in giving those of us not familiar with the region what it is like to reside in the middle east where residents are pressured to be on one side or the other.
By: Donna R. Copeland