In , the Israeli ‘solution’ is to ignore any complexity and hope for the best from further killing – killing that inevitably leaves innocents dead, inflates the anger of the opposition and exacerbates the division between either side. Avner is at this point in the film how we are in the West right now: numb to the slaughter, but dutifully pressing ahead with more anyway.
is not Steven Spielberg’s best film, but it is his most important one right now.
It’s a film about the danger of knee-jerk emotional responses by apparently ‘responsible’ states in times of crisis, about a cycle of violence propagated by a refusal to explore options beyond taking an eye-for-an-eye-style approach.
It’s about how applying a good vs evil narrative to a difficult story, and treating a severely complicated situation like it’s a straightforward one, necessarily only complicates the picture further. begins with the horror of the 1972 Munich Olympics, when Palestinian terrorists belonging to the group Black September took hostage then massacred 11 Israeli athletes.
Israel’s reaction is to create a squad of hitmen – led by Eric Bana’s idealistic Avner – to take those responsible out.
Avner and team kill their targets, but the dead are replaced by even worse.
Avner and his hit squad themselves become targets, and fight back harder, losing men of their own to the Hydra.
As both sides turn ever more savage, it becomes evident to Avner that he’s entered a self-perpetuating cycle of violence.
After the Paris attacks on November 13th, the response of Western powers was to seek revenge.
Almost immediately France bombed the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa in retaliation, and called on its allies to assist in obliterating the so-called Islamic State.
Before Christmas, the UK voted to begin airstrikes on Syria, despite protestations from opponents that previous violent intervention by Britain and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya had only increased radicalisation and made the regions less stable.
There were calls to try alternative solutions this time – cutting off sources of funding to Daesh, empowering local allies like the Kurdish Peshmerga, ending the civil war in Syria that has been said to feed Daesh – but those calls went unheeded.