WATCH: Palestinian short film tackles emotional impact of conscription

A just-released short film, titled “Project-X,” tackles a politically charged issue — conscription by the Israeli military — through an emotional appeal to Palestinian youth.

“We wanted this time to make a different kind of video,” said Nadim Nashif, director of Baladna — the Association for Arab Youth, which co-sponsored production of the film. “We wanted to treat the issue in a cinematic way… [to show] what it produces by way of impact on the self.”

Nashif’s comments, which are translated above from Arabic, are included in the description to the “Project-X” video, which can be found here. (The video can be viewed with English subtitles by selecting the captions option.)

Directed by Nadim Hamed, the six-minute film was produced by the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, or Hamleh, in cooperation with Baladna. It comes as part of an awareness campaign titled “I am an Arab; I will not serve,” which is geared toward Palestinian youth who are at risk of conscription.

In the film, the 18-year-old Palestinian protagonist is approached by an apparent Israeli recruiter, identifiable by his belabored use of the letter R, which is “rolled” in Arabic. The recruiter tries to entice him with an offer of land and an opportunity that “can open a million doors.”

The young man clearly struggles (“But I don’t want to hurt anyone,” he responds). The film then cuts to a dark operating room, where Hebrew-speaking doctors are evaluating the Palestinian’s “programming.”

“There is resistance in his heart,” one of the doctors says. “What should we do?”

“Erase her,” replies the other doctor.

The “her” is a Palestinian woman about whom the young man dreams while on the operating table. “This is not the way for us,” she pleads with him.

“You’re afraid I’ll give up on you?” he asks.

“I’m afraid you’ll give up on yourself,” the woman responds.

Equal parts harrowing and visually stunning, the film, which was posted on June 8, has already garnered nearly 4,000 views. It’s well worth a look.

This post has been updated to refer to the attempted military conscription of Palestinian youths in Israel.

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