Dear Ms. Medalia,
For a long time after the bombing, a common question I was hit with was: "how do I feel towards the bomber?" My thoughts have never been filled with hate toward the terrorist who tried to kill me. Nor have they filled with pity, love, or forgiveness. If the truth be told, my thoughts have not been filled with her at all. What is there to think about? The woman is dead.
Recently, however, your movie (or at least, the bit of it I have been exposed to on the film website), inspired me to do a bit more research into the woman who tried to murder me. Her name was Andalib Suleiman. Here is what we had in common as of the date of the bombing:
1) We both have brown hair and brown eyes. We do not look like sisters, but hey, my actual sister and I do not look like sisters (a point which pleases said actual sister no end).
2) We were both female. (I still am. Not so relevant for her)
3) We were both single.
Now let us suppose that my luck had been different, and I, like Rachel, had been killed. And now let us suppose that you decided to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and decided that since I too, was single and female and had brown hair and brown eyes, an effective method would be to comparing and effectively equalize me, a normal, law abiding citizen, to a mass-murderer.
I would have come back and haunted your sorry ass from the grave.
Your movie appears to contemplate Ayat and Rachel as equal victims of the conflict, one the mirrored reflection of the other, even though one willfully murdered the other. Even though one of the two was, quite simply, a murderer. The language you use in describing the act in your statement minimizes the act of murder: "[w]hat would lead a beautiful girl just starting her life and with plans for the future, to wake up one morning, take a bag of explosives and put an end to her life". Poor, innocent Ayat... another perfectly normal teenager, just depressed over the situation in the West Bank. There is no planning here. No intent to murder. Oh no! Because, you know, every teenager has a bag of explosives lying around the house, in the event that he or she wakes up one morning and wants to put an end to her life.
Yeah, and the Al Quiada guys just woke up one random morning, took four planes, and put ends to their lives. Are you for real?
But you want to pull up, to rehabilitate the memory of Ayat. Okay. You want to establish that she is also a victim. Knock yourself out. You wish to do so by playing her against one of her victims? Not okay. Who does Rachel's memory belong to? Who does her identity belong to? From now on, everyone who sees this movie will remember Rachel as "the girl who could have been sisters with a suicide bomber". Where do you get off? What gives you the right?
You boldly proclaim your identification with Ayat. How much time have you spent trying to identify with Rachel? Where is Rachel in this story? Is she important because she was, because of the person she was…or because she was a particularly interesting victim of terror--a victim the same age as and with a striking resemblance to her murderer? This is how I see it: the only reason that you care about Rachel at all is because she makes the story of your darling, tormented suicide bomber that much more dramatic. She is a foil for the blade to play against. If she were blonde, if she were ten years older, if she were, say, the downright heroic security guard, she would not have mattered to you at all. She would have been just another sad, but rather dull, statistic.
No drama. No "in another life they could be friends". No edge. Just another dead girl.
You like to imagine, yes? Imagine this: suppose that the next time you come to Israel to visit the folks, you pull the short straw. What a dramatic movie that would be! The rising young film producer, making her mark through her heartrending movie on terror, herself a victim! Then someone could like, explain how really the terrorist was a victim. And identify with the terrorist. And try to understand the terrorist. But do not worry-you would make the terrorist that much more interesting! The terrorist would be downright fascinating, because he had such an interesting victim. And you, yes you, WHAT ABSOLUTE GLORY! could contribute in your own little way in the rehabiliatation of his memory.
Any problems with that?
Is this how Rachel would want to be remembered? Is this how she would see herself in relationship to Ayat? Is this how she would see this story? It is her story, too, you know. Not just Ayat's. Never yours.