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ID Blues (new documentary series by Chaim Yavin)

Last night, in the framework of the Jerusalem Int’l Film Festival, was the first public screening of the first two episodes of Chaim Yavin’s ID Blues (Teudah Kehula in Hebrew).

The series very effectively explores relations between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel (i.e., those who carry the blue Israel ID card).

As with his previous series Land of the Settlers, Yavin puts to good use his credentials and qualities. Name recognition, face recognition, and his iconic status in Israeli news media, play no small part in this. His sometimes belligerent interviewing style, acquired through years of grilling politicians, manages to draw people out, and his understanding of what makes good television keeps viewers engaged.

The five-part series was two years in the making - and not all of the work was finished in time for the film festival. Taken together, the series should provide an uncommonly penetrating view of Arabs in Israel, and their relations with the Jewish State.

In 2008, a series like this can’t afford to fail, can’t afford not to spread before Israelis the soiled and ragged fabric of Jewish - Arab coexistence. It’s almost too late. "Don’t talk to me any more of coexistence," says Adel Manaa in the first episode, to a well-meaning sympathizer. "I’m sick of hearing about it. Talk to me of equal rights... If you aren’t doing something to change the situation, you bear responsibility for the consequences."

After the screening, Yavin answered a few questions from the audience. One viewer asked him whether he felt optimistic or pessimistic for the future. Yavin said that he was by nature an optimist, and in this case drew his optimism from the simple fact that Jews and Arabs are in a relationship that eventually has to improve. "Neither they nor we are going anywhere." Yavin emphasizes throughout the series his Zionism, but said afterwards that Zionism has to make some adjustments.

When the adjustments grow large enough to allow both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians to feel equally at home in the state that governs their mutual homeland, perhaps we will all be Zionists.

Thanks to Anat Tsom (co-screenwriter and editor) - whose sharp editing makes every moment of the series count - for inviting us to the screening.