An Odd Understanding Reached in Israeli Prisons
"Hot House," Shimon Dotan's absorbing look at Palestinians held in Israeli jails, is full of remarkable interviews. Prisoners talk about how they issue orders to followers on the outside via smuggled cellphones. A former Palestinian newscaster, Ahlam Tamimi, recalls the day she dropped a suicide bomber off at his target, then coolly went on television to report on the resulting bombing.
Mr. Dotan, who grew up in Israel, is so successful at revealing the world inside the prisons, where about 10,000 Palestinians are held, that by the end of "Hot House" you may feel more than a little annoyance at the two sides in this endless conflict. These enemies know each other absurdly well. They learn from each other, and talk openly about doing so. Yet they can't seem to break the cycle: a cat and mouse addicted to their own game.
The film, shown tonight on Cinemax, is centered on the 2006 Palestinian elections; some of the prisoners are members of Parliament. And it has a timeliness to it because life in the prisons mimics life outside: there is a Hamas faction, a Fatah faction and so on.
Mr. Dotan too often lets the prisoners he interviews spout the usual hogwash ("We treat all human beings as brothers," says a Hamas inmate), but he also zeros in on what makes the prisons so fascinating. "The Israel security service does such a good job that the whole military, political and social leadership is here," says Col. Ofer Lefler, a spokesman for the Israeli Prisons Authority.
And that leadership isn't making license plates. Prisoners talk about how they have used their time — decades, for some — to learn more about their own cause. Some entered as boys, but now, through newspapers, television and talks with other inmates, they know what they were fighting for back then.
They pursue university degrees — in Hebrew. "The Palestinian prisoners have turned the Israeli jails into academies and universities," says Samir Masharawi, a Fatah leader.
The Israelis, in turn, learn about the Palestinians by watching the prison populations. The film, though, is necessarily ambiguous as to whether all this will lead either side to be more accommodating or will simply result in smarter warriors.
Written, directed and produced by Shimon Dotan; Arik Bernstein, executive producer; produced by Yonatan Aroch and Dikla Barkai; co-produced by Danny Rossner; edited by Ayala ben Gad; Ron Klein, composer; Philip Bellaiche, Shai Goldman and Hanna Abu Saada, cinematographers. An Alma Films, Talisma Productions, Meimad Barkai Productions, Cinequest Films presentation.
Today's New York Times carries a review of a film called "Hot House" that goes inside Israeli prisons and examines the lives of Palestinian prisoners. We're not recommending the film or the review. But we do want to share our feelings with you about the beaming female face that adorns the article. You can see it here.
The film is produced by HBO. So it's presumably HBO's publicity department that was responsible for creating and distributing a glamor-style photograph of a smiling, contented-looking young woman in her twenties to promote the movie.
That female is our child's murderer. She was sentenced to sixteen life sentences or 320 years which she is serving in an Israeli jail. Fifteen people were killed and more than a hundred maimed and injured by the actions of this attractive person and her associates. The background is here.
Neither the New York Times nor HBO are likely to give even a moment's attention to the victims of the barbarians who destroyed the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and the lives of so many victims. So we would be grateful if you would pass along this link to some pictures of our daughter whose name was Malki. She was unable to reach her twenties - Hamas saw to that.
Though she was only fifteen years old when her life was stolen from her and from us, we think Malki was a beautiful young woman, living a beautiful life. We ask your help so that other people - far fewer than the number who will see the New York Times, of course - can know about her. Please ask your friends to look at the pictures - some of the very few we have - of our murdered daughter. They are [here].
And remind them of what the woman in the Israeli prison - the woman smiling so happily in the New York Times - said last year. "I'm not sorry for what I did. We'll become free from the occupation and then I will be free from prison."
With so many voices demanding that Israel release its terrorist prisoners, small wonder she's smiling.
With greetings from Jerusalem ,
Frimet and Arnold Roth
On behalf of Keren Malki