Ismail Khatib and part of his family

Ismail Khatib and part of his family

Last evening in those few American households that chose not to watch another CNN package on Michael Jackson, Wide Angle broadcast “Heart of Jenin” on many PBS stations. The documentary by Leon Geller and Marcus Vetter is the story of a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed in Jenin in 2005, by Israeli soldiers who mistook his toy gun for the real thing. The son of a former Palestinian fighter who had been imprisoned in Israel, Ahmed Khatib was rushed to an Israeli hospital where he died. But something extraordinary happened. His family allowed his organs to be transplanted into ill Israeli children. His heart went to Sameh, a Druze girl in Pklin; a kidney went to Mohamed, a Bedouin boy in the Negev; and one kidney went to Menuha Rivka, an Orthodox Jewish girl in Jerusalem. The film recounts the events and the transplant, and then follows the boy’s father, Ismael Khatib, as he journeys to visit three of the children that received his son’s organs

The problem with many documentaries is that they are too real, and the filmmakers push their subjects with questions no ordinary mensch would dare ask. But that is what docs are about. For example, in the middle of the transplant operation, the filmmakers ask the father of the Orthodox recipient whether it matters that the donor is an Arab. The father answers that, sure, he would prefer a Jewish organ. (He later regrets his honesty) He and his wife also later say that they would not want their children to be friends with Arabs. While one filmmaker wanted to focus on the relationship between Ismael, Sameh, and her heart, the other filmmaker wanted this story to be a microcosm of the Middle East conflict. I do not believe that either succeeded in their goals, and we are left with half of each.

As Ismael journeys through Israel a year after the transplants, he encounters deep-seated animosity and heartfelt generosity. Guess where the animosity is felt in the directors’ cut? He gets lots of warmth and laughing and even gifts for his Jenin students from the Arab families, and from the Jewish family he gets uncomfortable silence, an apology, advice that is perceived to be an insult, and a gift-wrapped package (and we never get to see what the gift was!). But was it anomosity, or was it an introverted Jewish father who is filled with embarrassment and gratitude, yet lacks interpersonal skills?

I would love to read your opinions if you also saw this national broadcast. By the way, the full 51 minute episode is available here.

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  • I have to admit, I found the Orthodox father hard to stomach. Liberal and secular Jews should watch this film before attending Kiruv yeshivas and seminaries.

  • you jews are really a bunch of heartless creeps

    first you mistakenly shoot a kid, take his organs and act rude towards his family

    now i understand why god killed 24000 of you in the sinai desert

    fucking creeps, not all, but most of you

  • one more thing, no jew, let alone a father of a dead jewish soldier would willingly donate organs to an arab

    thats for sure, no jew has such a heart, this shows the difference between jews and arabs

  • I don’t know who let your posts through, you dirtbag, but it took very little time to prove you wrong. Again.

    Another Jewish boy, 15-year-old Anthony Boruszek, has had three new kidneys. When the first gave out, his father George donated one of his. Crushingly, it failed too.

    “I’d been so sure I could help him,” George says, the weary helplessness of those days still evident. But three months ago, after six agonizing years, the family of a Jewish man killed in an Arab terrorist attack donated the kidney that is now keeping Anthony alive and a liver that went to an Arab.

  • the jewish family didnt know the liver went to an arab, but the arab guy knew his sons organ went to a jew

    no jew would voluntarily donate his sons organ to an arab

  • Another incarnation of CTC – really? Do the idiots of this world have nothing better to do with their time?

  • I don’t know why somebody is letting his shit through, but I’m deleting what he posts from now on. He has plenty of other sites where he can vomit his hatred.

  • Not sure about an organ, but I’d donate a Louisville slugger to use on real observers head.

  • The film-maker also cheated when asking the orthodox parents if they’d want their kids to have Arab friends. But what they fail to show is that Orthodox don’t want their children to have ANY friends who are not Orthodox, including Christian or secular Jewish friends. They are not different from the Amish in this respect. That does not mean they are Arab haters necessarily. THe Amish are the same way, yet are held to different standards.

  • @Joan

    Yes, that’s it. I thought like it, too.
    But the answer would be given by a lot of israelis, secular or orthodox.

  • Such a moving film. When will people learn that we are more alike than different. Kudos to the Arab family…

  • So basically @Joan what you’re saying is you condone this “amish-mentality” amongst the orthodox population?? How very open-minded of you…

  • I saw the 51 minute version as well as the original uncut version in the theater. The impression I got was the orthodox Jew had little to say and could not wait for the Arab man to leave. Perhaps living in his closed world, (self imposed Jewish Ghetto) not wanting to come in contact with non orthodox Jews, He has made himself socially inept. This is not a way for folks to live that want a peaceful world.

    “Only when we talk to our enemies, we may find we are not enemies”