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Sonia Nettnin: Film Review - Route 181 (Part III)

Film Review: Route 181-Fragments of a Journey to Palestine-Israel

Part III – The North
By Sonia Nettnin

See also…
Sonia Nettnin: Film Review - Route 181 &
Sonia Nettnin: Film Review - Route 181 (Part II)

The Palestinian people of Qaqiliya enter and exit the city through a gate. Israeli soldiers lock it with a key. The gate is part of the concrete wall.

The wall stands 25 feet-high and the people cannot see the sunset. Sometimes, the soldiers do not unlock the gate.

In Part III of the documentary, ROUTE 181-Fragments of a Journey to Palestine-Israel, directors Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan continue their route based on the theoretical line presented in UN Resolution 181 (1947).

In Qaqiliya, the cement wall stands in stark contrast to the terracotta-colored ground. Cement trucks surround the construction area. A slit in the wall reveals a sea of flat rooftops. A fence surrounds the wall.

As they drive, they film the rearview mirror. The wall is endless. Their 1947 map rests on the dashboard and it reflects on the windshield. The reflection is a virtual image, like the theoretical map.

Whenever the directors interview people, they ask interviewees about the judgment of Solomon.

How did King Solomon decide which woman was the real mother of the child? He based his decision on their responses: one woman said cut the child in half; and the other woman’s response would spare the life of the child.

This question symbolizes the objective of the directors’ journey. Moreover, it is an exploration of their point of view.

In Tulkarem, they meet a group of demonstrators. Some of them carry canisters of milk. They protest the curfews and the occupation. Then, the soldiers grab some of the demonstrators, hit them and push them into wagons.

People chanted: “Free, free Palestine.”

Afterward, they travel to an olive orchard. While an elderly man talks about orchard weddings, women stand on ladders against the trees. They pick the lime-colored olives and place them into crates.

Suddenly, some men called rabbinates drive to the periphery of the orchard. They check for trees less than four years-old (forbidden).

At the Sargel Junction, they meet a teacher who sings to a group of young, Jewish boys: “child pioneers, do you have muscles?”

Conversations with the people who live in the Israel-Palestine conflict give outsiders an understanding of their diverse beliefs and opinions.

In search of the old, Arab village Lubieh, they meet a group of young, Jewish men. They carry AK47s. The directors have a controversial discussion with them over the history of names (Lubieh, Laire, and La’vie). The thrust of the conversation is about whom is the true owner of the land and the directors end it.

The directors meet a woman who survived 1948.

“They shot us like rabbits,” she said. “They threw the bodies everywhere.”

Her grandchildren listen to her.

At a children’s birthday party, they interview a man who participated in Operation Matate. A wallpaper of Israel’s flags is behind him.

When they ask him about the operation’s objective, he said: “The aim was to get rid of them for settlements. It’s a broom to clean the earth to sweep the Arabs.”

After they ask him about the judgment of Solomon, he responded: “Giving up the child showed wisdom.”

During the long breath of silence, he face turns red.

I found the interview with the Jewish woman from Morocco informative. She said that emigration was a kind of fashion, so she joined the Jewish movement.

“They told us what to say,” she said. “Their promises were paper thin.”

She stated she hoodwinked people into emigration and “we probably did wrong sending them here,” she added.

Film a tree, instead of me, she said.

Fragments of stories unravel and they show their different colors. Khleifi and Sivan weave life stories that provide information for awareness and understanding.


Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.

Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.

She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.

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