In the weeks following the Six-Day War in 1967, the conflict that reshaped a victorious Israel, two kibbutzniks, Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira, recorded a series of talks with other soldiers just coming home. Mr. Shapira assembled those conversations into a book, The Seventh Day, which came out later that year and was remarkably reflective given the national euphoria. But the Israeli military permitted only about 30 percent of the material to be published then.
In Mor Loushy’s Censored Voices, Mr. Oz, now perhaps Israel’s best-known author, and Mr. Shapira, an editor, along with some of their interviewees, listen almost a half-century later to tapes of their younger selves. For most, it was their first war, and they recount fears, horror and disgust.
But the longer the discussions, the darker the stories. “They said: Show no mercy. Kill as many as possible,” one reports about his commanders. Another agrees that “the war was just” at its outset because of the threat to Israel’s survival, but that “it became something it wasn’t in the beginning.” Many were deeply troubled by the expulsion of Arabs from their villages. “I had the abysmal feeling I was evil,” one says.
To evoke the events being discussed, Ms. Loushy skillfully uses war footage taken by the military itself. She also gives the older subjects the film’s last words: One says that these days he’s “less of a Zionist,” another that he’s “much more right wing.” An essential amendment to the historical record, Censored Voices reminds us that no war is entirely virtuous and makes clear that, even at the time, the dangers of becoming an occupying force were evident. Forty-eight years ago, one returning soldier noted that the war not only didn’t answer Israel’s problems, it “complicated them in a way that will be very hard to solve.”
Director: Mor Loushy.
Screenwriters: Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan.
A Music Box Films release. Running time: 84 minutes. In Hebrew and English with English subtitles. Adult themes. In Miami-Dade: Coral Gables Art Cinema; in Broward: Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. Director Mor Loushy will participate in a Q&A via Skype following the 2 p.m. Saturday Dec. 19 screening at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood. Click here for more information.