Watch short film: “In Defense of the Rocket”

UK-based French filmmaker Martin Ginestie’s short film In Defense of the Rocket can be described in a sentence: the rise and fall of the Middle East peace process in news photos, set to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.

Though precise, this description cannot do justice to the six-minute film’s visual and emotional impact.

Watch it above.

Completed in 2015, In Defense of the Rocket has been screened at numerous film festivals in recent months, including its premier at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, at Canada’s HotDocs as well as in Sarajevo and Milan.

“Red line”

Ginestie told The Electronic Intifada that the title has been the most controversial aspect of the film.

“At festivals, I’ve definitely got people being offended by the title,” Ginestie said. “But that was the purpose.”

“The moment of inspiration for the film was the bombing of Gaza in 2014, because I was just trying to find something positive from that event,” Ginestie added. “It was very hard to find anything positive.”

“The ambition of the film was to provoke Western liberals – at the time there was a lot of sympathy for Palestinians but very little sympathy for armed resistance,” Ginestie added. “That was kind of a red line. I wanted to provoke people, not to support armed resistance – it’s not for us to decide how Palestinians resist colonization – but to get people to reframe the Western debate about the use of violence.”

“I wanted to make a film that retraced the past 20 years of Palestinian politics and give some kind of historical logic for what the Palestinian resistance was doing,” Ginestie said.

Year zero?

But even having that debate is difficult in European countries that are increasingly cracking down on free expression.

Ginestie said that the French political group Égalité et Réconciliation asked him if it could put the film on its website, but warned it could not do so using the English title, for fear of being prosecuted under French laws that prohibit “apologie du terrorisme,” or justifying terrorism.

So Ginestie agreed to change the French title to Palestine année zéro – Palestine Year Zero – which had been his working title.

“It felt like if this was to be the final nail in the coffin of the peace process, the moment where everyone can see that the process going on for 20 years was nonsense, then this could be a kind of a year zero from which new possibilities would emerge in the rubble of Gaza,” he said.

But was the 2014 Gaza war really a year zero for Palestine, when the “peace process” refuses to die, no matter how many times it is eulogized?

“I think for a lot of younger people, it definitely was,” Ginestie insists. “And for older people who were never that interested, or knew enough to take sides, as it were.”

According to Ginestie, the Gaza war was a moment “when things swung massively in favor of the Palestinians, in the real world – even in the United States – not in the fake world of politics. And in the end, that is how history is going to be written, not by John Kerry or Donald Trump.”

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Comments

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A haunting, emotional and provoking short film that needs to reach wide audiences, especially those people who do not (yet) appreciate the significance of resistance for the Palestinian people. The juxtaposition of handshakes, hugs and pleasantries that Arafat and Abbas shared with many dignitaries over the years with the scenes of carnage from daily resistance to the occupation, and the stills of bombings of Gaza would surely move any Western liberal-minded person first to pity, then to indignation. The Oslo II Accords, signed in September 1995, were meant to achieve precisely what for the Palestinians? Having just re-read Noam Chomsksy's article "A Painful Peace", first published in 1996 in Z Magazine (also at Chomsky.info) not long before I watched this film, I am left baffled. I realise that nothing has changed for the Palestinians in the last 20 years, except perhaps that overall, there has been a deterioration in living conditions for them. Gaza under siege for 10 years, increasing settlements in the West Bank, and most disturbing, in these 20 years more and more young Palestinians have been growing up disenfranchised, either in Palestine, or in refugee camps outside occupied Palestine. How dare we in the West even judge the means of resistance they choose, when we have been raised in an environment in which one looks forward to a good future. The Palestinians deserve all our pity, empathy, discontent, and indignation. Just be on their side.

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Égalité et Réconciliation is a far-right, net-fascistic and openly antiSemitic website run by Alain Soral. Ginestie should have been asked about that

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Let's say that the director was fooled by Egalité et Réconcilation because he don't know them, giving him the benefit of the doubt. You should however remove the link toward their website. As Aamir Mufti noted, it's a fascist sect which only talk about the Palestine to spread their antisemitic propaganda.

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yep, Soral and his ilk are clearly antisemitic . Pro-Palestinian organizations as EuroPalestine and AFPS have written tribunes to distance themselves from Soral years ago (sort of Gilad Atzmon on steroid). This is really a negative point, I wonder how a French film-maker can make such a faux-pas, did he live on Mars the last ten years ?

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Am I missing something here? Its a bunch of photos with no context set to some classical music. The Zionits could do the same thing to prove thier point of view, with many of the same photos even.
No context No point.
And when I read lines like, [UK-based French filmmaker Martin Ginestie’s short film In Defense of the Rocket can be described in a sentence: the rise and fall of the Middle East peace process in news photos, set to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.] "Though precise, this description cannot do justice to the six-minute film’s visual and emotional impact," it makes me think Ali that you have really drunk the Cool Aid.
There are far, FAR more poignant movies and doc's that make the Palestinians pain real. Dont just wax approvingly on every "Pro" Palestinian article or movie that comes out. It cheapens the real.
When you and other write the words you did in defense of dreck like this it makes me wonder what path we are really trying to go down.
It certainly isn't peace......

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.