Sof Shavua B'Tel Aviv (For my Father) (2008)
Director: Dror Zahavi.
Starring: Shredi Jabarin (Tarek), Hili Yalon (Keren), Shlomo Vishinsky (Katz), Jony Arbid (Abed), Shadi Fahr-Al-Din (Salim), Rosina Kambus (Zipora), Oren Yadger (Shaul), Dina Golan (Sara), Chaim Banai (Rehavia), Michael Moshonov (Shlomi), Amir Yerushalmi (Avinoam), Khawlah Hag-Debsy (Fatma), Avital Pasternak (Adina), Adel Abou Raya (Ali), Yussuf Abu-Warda (Saleh).
suicide bomber has second thoughts about his mission after meeting some of the Israelis he was about to bomb
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film. A curse word.
A mother tells her grown son Tarek that it's time to get up. Tarek gets up and gets dress. He goes outside. He hears a helicopter overhead. Two men drive up in a car and Tarek gets in. They drive toward the city of Tel Aviv. In the city people are setting up their shops to begin business. A young lady named Keren calls out to a man named Katz, who is setting up his store for business across from her business. She brings him his daily newspaper to read.
In the car Tarek is asked to put on his suicide bomber vest. The fellow in the front passenger sea named Salim tells Tarek that Salma is getting married at Abu Ala's restaurant. The groom is Walid. The driver Abed tells Tarek that he must push the button precisely at 8:00 a.m.
One of the headlines in the paper is : "A terrorist penetrated from the West Bank." Katz gets angry and start to turn on all the fire hydrants.
Tarek tells Abed to pull over to the side of the road because he has to urinate. Abed tells him to hold it but Salim tells Abed to pull over. Abed tells Salim that he just doesn't trust this Tarek fellow, but Salim vouches for Tarek.
A traffic monitor named Shaul gets a radio call saying that Katz is opening the hydrants again. The security fellow says for the fellow on the other end to direct him to where Katz is. The fellow tells him that he is just 20 meters from where Shaul is standing. Just then Shaul feels the water coming around his shoes. He says: "Shit. I'll kill him." Shaul goes over to tell Katz to close the hydrants. All of a sudden Shaul's father comes running saying that he will take care of the situation. Shaul asks his father not to interfere, but dad insists. Shaul walks away. Katz tells Shaul's father that there is too much water in the country given they heavy rains recently.
Abed asks Tarek who prepared him to be a suicide bomber? Ibrahim did. Abed goes over with Tarek what he is supposed to do if he meets various situations. Then he asks Tarek why is he going to do this? Tarek says: "Since I was born I couldn't even dream. And that won't change unless they are hurt."
Two young Jewish fellows talk about Keren. One says that the young woman wears her clothes too tight. He then says: "We'll take care of the whore." But they will have to do it later when there are not so many people around.
The car arrives at the destination. Salim hooks up the vest to a cellular telephone. If anything goes wrong, they can set off the bomb by placing a call to the phone. Tarek tells the guys to send the money for the bombing to his father. Salim says they will give some of the money to Tarek's uncles, but Tarek insists the money goes just to his father. The driver tells Tarek since they don't have any air force, he is serving as their air force. Tarek gets out of the car. He looks around.
Keren asks Katz to watch her shop for her. He agrees to watch it.
Tarek walks among the many people shopping at the open air market. He is about to push the button, when he gets a phone call from his mother. She asks him if he is in Tel Aviv? He says yes and that he is in the market place. She tells him that they are saying that a terrorist got through to Tel Aviv. She tells him not to hang around the market. Tarek tells her he will see her in two weeks. Mother tells him goodbye. He goes back to the busiest place in the market and pushes the button. Nothing happens. He pushes the button several times more. Nothing. Something has gone wrong with the equipment. Tarek fast walks away from the market.
Tarek now puts a call into Abed. Salim answers the phone and asks if everything is okay? Tarek says yes and that he is about to activate the bomb. Tarek walks over to the newsstand and hears Keren ask one of the young Jewish men: "Are you threatening me?" He says no. He is merely telling her that his friend Avinoam is coming tonight. She tells Shlomi that she doesn't have time for his bullshit. She tells him to get out of here. Shlomi leaves. Tarek steps up and asks Keren if he can use her bathroom? She tells him to uses the toilets at his work site. Tarek says they don't have any toilets at the work site. So Keren tells him to go ahead, but be quick about it.
Tarek closes the lid on the toilet and sits down. He soon gets up and goes over to Katz to asks him to fix his button. Katz looks at it but tell sTarek that the thing is burnt out, but he can get him a new one. Tarek follows Katz into his shop. He brings back an on/off switch for Tarkek, but Tarek says he needs an exact duplicate of the button. Katz says he can have one over here by Sunday. He asks Tarek to come back on Sunday. Tarek says okay.
The boys are playing soccer in the street and a ball comes toward Tarek. He uses a fancy footstep to kick the ball back to the guys and the two old men marvel at the kick. They come over to him and talk to him about where did he learn that fancy footwork? In Nazareth. The two men are having a disagreement over which came first: Islam or Christianity? Tarek correctly says Christianity.
A police car comes down the street and Tarek rushes into Katz's store. He says he can fix that leak in the roof for Katz. He has a lot of time to spare. Katz says okay, but he can't let his neighbor Rehavia know that he is working for Katz. Keren watches Tarek from her kiosk. Tarek goes with Katz to get some supplies to fix the leak..
Tarek goes into the shop. He sees a woman sitting at a table with her head down on the table. He comes in and says that Katz hired him to fix the leak. Tarek smell gas and he goes over to shut the gas off coming from the stove. The woman says she must have forgotten. He says he will start on the roof. The woman asks his name. Tarek. She gets him some water.
Keren gets a happy birthday call from her mother. Her birthday is tomorrow. Keren does not seem pleased to receive the call. Mom asks her to come to the Sabbath eve meal. Keren says she can't come to dinner anymore because of the disputes she has had with her father. Mother says she will talk with father and he will agree to her coming to dinner. The chances of her going to the dinner seem slim.
Tarek comes to Keren for some coffee for Katz. She apologizes for being rude to him this morning about the toilet. Tarek invites Keren to have a cup of coffee with them. And he says he will prepare the coffee like they do in the kibbutz. They tell each other their names. Keren asks him a lot of questions about where he's from and the different places he has lived in. Tarek asks Keren if Katz is a little crazy? She says he's mad at the world. He lost his son many years ago in the army. Tarek pours the coffee and Keren invites him to come to a beach party. She says he just has to come, so he says yes.
Tarek comes up on the roof to start fixing it. He looks around and sees some graffiti that says: "Death to the Arabs!" Katz calls up to Tarek and says that Zipora has invited him to supper tonight. Tarek says thanks.
Tarek gets a call from Abed who calls him a traitor and says he is going to kill Tarek's parents. Tarek says the button didn't work. So Abed tells him to go to a crowded place tomorrow and they will activate the bomb via the telephone. Tarek says that tomorrow is the Sabbath and all the stores will be closed. He says he will do it on Sunday.
At dinner Katz says there is nothing like Zipora's Romanian kebabs. But Tarek is a bit weary of the strange food.
Rehaviah and his wife, along with their son Shaul, watch the television news while they eat their dinner. The search for the terrorist in Tel Aviv continues. Everyone is urged to be vigilant for the terrorist. Shaul asks his father what is that Arab doing at Katz's place? Fixing a leaky roof for Katz. Is dad sure? Dad starts laughing saying that Katz can't fix anything by himself. And if anyone is going to set off a bomb, it's most likely to be Katz. Shaul tells his father that he doesn't feel right about having an Arab hanging around here on the Sabbath when there's a warning out for the presence of a terrorist.
Katz tells Tarek that he should have seen Zipora when she was young. All the guys were after her. Katz continues to talk about the old days in Bucharest. They had it good in Bucharest, especially compared to all the work they have to do to survive in Israel. He says the Israelis took away everything from them. They had a rule called "water discipline" where the new recruits in boot camp were not allowed to drink water. They didn't let Yakir drink. Zipora repeatedly tells him to stop telling the story. She finally takes him to his bed. Tarek sees the pain of the parents over the loss of their son.
Now the morals vigilantes come to harass Keren. They tell her to take that cigarette out of her mouth because it's the Sabbath. Avinoam tells her that she is breaking her father's heart because of the way she acts. He says he knows what happened with her, but: "Mistakes are permitted." He asks her if she really likes living this way without family? Avinoam says they will come back in three hours. She is to be packed up and wearing decent clothing.
Zipora asks Tarek about his mother. He says she was a nurse. His father was a violin player but he has not worked for many years. Something happened and dad became very depressed and stays that way.
At night Tarek stays to sleep in the shop belonging to Katz. He has a nightmare and wakes up abruptly when he thinks someone has ripped open his shirt, exposing the suicide vest. He goes outside and sees the vigilantes coming back for Keren. He goes over closer to the kiosk to listen in. Keren tells the two fellows that she's not going anywhere. Avinoam is just about to pour bottled water all over her, when Tarek comes into the shop. Avinoam tells him the place is closed and to get out of here. Tarek pretends he doesn't understand. Avinoam says now Keren is a whore for the Arabs. She wants another baby. Avinoam tries to hit Tarek, but Tarek hits him and knocks him to the floor. Keren jumps on the fellow and starts beating him with her fists. Tarek pulls her off Avinoam, who says they will be back, but he and his buddy sure run out of that store quickly.
Keren tells Tarek that they know where she lives. So he takes her to Katz's locked storage room so she can sleep there for the night. Keren lights a lantern. She sees the newspaper clippings about the death of the recruit Yakir. Tarek says he is going back to Katz's shop, but Keren asks him to stay with her until she falls asleep. He stays. He asks Keren why do those two guys bother her? She says they don't like modern-style women. Tarek worries about them coming after her again, but she says she will talk to her cousins and they will take care of the whole matter.
He asks Keren if she is going to stay in here the whole Sabbath? She says that until Sunday, Tarek has her. She now asks him to tell her a story, any story, until she falls asleep. So he starts talking about Katz and Zipora. He mentions that Zipora sometimes doesn't want to keep going on. He says sometimes he feels like that. Keren is asleep.
The next day Keren wears her hair in a more traditional style and wears more traditional clothes. She rides her bike over to Katz's place to see Tarek. She says she is going to the dining hall and then she will take Tarek to the fields. Just then Shaul comes up and tells the Arab to lean with his hands against the wall. Now Katz and Rehaviah come out to tell Shaul to leave the Arab alone. Katz says if Shaul causes anymore trouble, he will call the police and tell them that Shaul is impersonating a police officer and tell God that Shaul is impersonating a human being. Rehaviah pulls his son out of there.
Now Keren says she is taking Tarek to the synagogue to meet her parents. They arrive and Keren goes inside. She comes out with her mother a little ways behind her. The two women hug each other. Mom asks if she wants her to bring her father out? Keren say not because it won't change anything. Mom now looks closely at Tarek and asks him to take care of Karen. He nods his head in agreement. Mom goes back into the synagogue.
Tarek asks Keren if she is no longer religious? Not for a year, she says. She carried a baby for six months until she had a miscarriage. Everyone told her that this was God's punishment. She tells Tarek: "If I knew there was life after death I'd kill myself." Tarek gets a phone call asking him if he is in a crowded place? No, because its Sabbath. He will do it tomorrow. Abed tells Shalim to activate the bomb. Shalim tells Abed to let Tarek activate it himself tomorrow.
To not endanger Keren, who keeps following him on his bike, he climbs up a tree. He waits for the bomb explosion but it doesn't come. Shalim has convinced Abed to wait until tomorrow. Shalim now calls Tarek on his regular phone and tells him they will not activate the bomb, but tomorrow they will, if he doesn't activate it himself. Keren asks him if he has calmed down now? She climbs up into the tree. She wants to know if he was all those things he said he was. He says he was everything but a kibbutz resident. Tarek tells her that a famous Arab sports announcer spotted him playing soccer and thought he was so good that he should be playing soccer in Nazareth. That's how he got to Nazareth. His dad would drive him the long distance back and forth to Nazareth.
When the Intefata started, it became harder and harder to go back and forth to Nazareth. His father kept having to deal with the government more and more just to get passes and clearances to get by the roadblocks. After awhile, the intelligence fellows started forcing his father to provide them with information in return for getting the passes. Rumors started about the father and people started giving them dirty looks. The rumors about his father reached the Tanzim. After that, there was no more soccer in Nazareth for him.
Now she asks him about his home town of Tularem. He says: "It's shit." It's this way because of the situation and the situation of his family. "We're like a ruined family." Their reputation in town was ruined. "And for us a bad reputation is bad." She asks if he is angry at the people. This really makes Tarek furious and he says that she is a child with no understanding of what's going on. He asks her how could he be mad at people with barely enough food to eat to survive? "Go back to your kiosk and your nonsense."
Tarek walks back to Katz's place and sits down outside on a chair at a little table. Keren shows up on her bicycle. Tarek walks over to her and she apologizes. She says she didn't realize he was so angry at whoever he was angry at. Tarek says that he is angry at everybody, except Keren. That puts a smile on Keren's face.
A sports journalist named Salah brings a recorder to Katz to fix. While he waits, he sees Tarek. The two men shake hands. Salah puts a call into a sportscaster named Samir and says that he is with none other than Tarek Rana. Samir puts them on the radio and tells the audience that Salah is with a young man who "was one of the most promising junior talents at Nazareth, and who even played with the club." Samir says that they would like to see Tarek back playing as soon as possible. When Salah asks for Tarek's comment on all this, Tarek only says that he was injured. So Salah turns the program back over to Samir.
Salah wants to know what really happened to Tarek because he already knows that Tarek was not injured. So Tarek tells him that his father got into trouble and they couldn't go to Nazareth anymore. And then Tarek says that he himself got into trouble with the Tanzim. Salah asks if Tarek is working for them now? Terrorist stuff maybe? Tarek says no. Salah asks if they are watching him? He says yes. So Salah tells Tarek to come to see him tomorrow. Tarek says he can't because he is leaving tomorrow. He adds that he is not in control of his own fate. Salah asks him to promise to come to see him tomorrow. He finally says: "I'll come."
Tarek goes to the beach and walks along the top of the wall between the city and the sea. Keren sees him and calls him over. Meanwhile, the vigilantes in a big group come over to Keren's shop to harass her. Thank goodness Keren is with Tarek at the beach. They sit before a campfire. Keren says she has no friends.
Shaul shows up and the guys tell him about an Arab who assaulted them. Now Shaul is back in business and promises to take care of the matter.
Keren pleads with Tarek to come into the water with her. She has him turn around and she takes her top layer of clothes off. She has a bikini bottom and a black pull-over blouse on. He says: "Not today." So Keren goes into the water by herself. Tarek telephones his mother. He asks her to let him speak to his father. Dad is still following soccer because he knows that Nazareth won their recent match and are going to the semi-finals. Father now asks his son to come back home. Tarek says, God willing, he will be coming back home. He tells his father to take care of himself.
Keren comes back to the campfire and they sit back to back. They share a radio with each one getting one earphone. They hold hands. Keren asks him: "You're my friend, aren't you?" Tarek replies: "I'm your friend." The next morning the two are asleep on the blanket. Abed wakes Tarek with a telephone call. He tells Tarek to be at the entrance to the market at 8 a.m. sharp. Tarek says he's not for either side now, but he will be there at 8 a.m.
Tarek starts heading for the market. He looks back longingly to Keren. He walks over to Katz's shop and grabs the replacement on/off switch. He walks toward the market. Shaul is following him and is in contact with others. Tarek stops and is about to push the button, when Katz shows up. Tarek asks him to go away, but Katz says he's been shopping in this market for 40 years, so Tarek should go away. Katz suspects what Tarek is up to and he asks him if Tarek wants to kill him? No. Does Tarek want to kill all these people around here? No. Then why is Tarek doing this? He says: "For my father." Katz tells him if he does this, he will be killing his own father too. Tarek says: "You're getting by. You're okay. You're alive." But Katz says he himself is not alive, but dead.
A swat team shoots Tarek. The vest is detonated and the sound wakes up Keren. She sees a pile of nails next to her. (No doubt Tarek took the nails out of the vest.)
A newsman interviews a police officer who says that one of the bullets blew up the vest worn by the terrorist. For some unknown reason there were no shrapnel injuries.
Tarek's mother cries. His father mourns his son. Keren goes to work in her shop. She sees that Katz has his right arm in a cast. She opens up her shop. She knows what happened. She just stares straight ahead as if in a trance.
Spoiler warning: A very touching story. It's a happy and a sad film. Tarek had given up and was now about to blow himself up by detonating his suicide bomber vest. A malfunction of the detonator switch gives Tarek some more time. He finds that the Jewish people in the area are really very kind to him. He even finds a Jewish girl, who becomes his girlfriend. A man named Katz befriends Tarek as if the Arab were his own son. The people around Tarek actually shield him from discovery by the police because they don't want to see the fellow harassed by the authorities. Tarek begins to realize that every people has problems. It's not all milk and honey for the Israelis, even if it's much tougher for the Palestinians. The developing love story between Tarek and Keren makes us root for the couple who seem to click so well with each other. They are both outsiders in their own cultures and are drawn to each other. But we wonder: how can this film end without the suicide vest being set off? I went into the ending expecting the worse was going to happen to prepare myself for a possible, very sad ending.
Shredi Jabarin (as Tarek), Hili Yalon (as Keren) and Shlomo Vishinsky (as Katz) were all very good in their roles.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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