The Little Traitor (Ha'boged Hakatan) (2007)

 

 

 

 

Director:      Lynn Roth.

Starring:      Ido Port (Proffy), Alfred Molina (Dunlop), Theodore Bikel (Interrogator), Levana Finkelstein (Grandmother Tykocinski), Rami Heuberger (Proffy's father), David Milton John (British officer), Anat Klausner (Yardena), Tarik Kopty (Arab merchant), Guy Krasner (Chita), Dafna Melzer (Rachel), Zachi Noy (Mr. Gihon), Shmuel Shiloh (Mr. Lazarus), Hisham Suleiman (Arab merchant #1).

1947 Palestine just a few months before Israel becomes a state, a Jewish boy grows up under British occupation and is anti-British but he forms a friendship with a British sergeant and gets shunned as a traitor by his Jewish friends 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

"From 1917-1948, Palestine was under occupation by British Mandate rule.  After World War II, the British tried to curtail the flood of post-Holocaust refugees into Palestine.  Because of these measures, the underground defense forces of the Irgun and Haganah resorted to armed resistance.  To curb the violence, the British imposed a nightly curfew on all Arab and Jewish communities."

Jerusalem, 1947.  A man in a vehicle with a loud speaker, shouts out:  "Curfew!  Curfew!  Curfew!  . . . Everyone off the street by 18:00 hours.  . . . Anyone caught outside will be arrested."  A little boy runs away from the military police.  He hides behind some plants.  He sees a woman and a man forcibly arrested.  The boy's name is Proffy.  When he gets home, his father tells him that he can't come home so close to curfew.  He could have been arrested.  Proffy says it won't happen again. 

In his room Proffy plays with toy soldiers.  On the one side are the British and on the other are the Jewish forces.  Proffy gives the order to kill the British.  Then he pretends he's a news caster and says that the Jewish forces drove the British out of the land of Israel. 

Proffy has to come to dinner now.  Dad turns on the radio.  The announcer says:  "This is Kol Yerushalayim.  Five men were arrested.  They were caught stealing guns and ammunition from a British army base."  The United Nations has appointed a special committee on Palestine.  Father says they will not have a state without the help of the world.  Proffy asks why does everyone hate the Jews so much?  Dad says the reasons for the hatred may change, but the hatred goes on forever.  Proffy says he wishes he was old enough to join the Irgun.  Dad tells him not to talk like that.

Now Proffy asks who is it that comes at night to their house?  He hears people talking and furniture being moved around.  His father tells him no one comes.  Mother gives Proffy some food to take to old man Lazarus, who keeps pigeons on the roof of the building.  Proffy uses binoculars to keep an eye on British troop movements.  He also uses the binoculars to see into the windows of his neighbors.  He is especially interested in a young, pretty woman, Yardena. 

Early next morning Proffy takes off running to go see his two friends.  Proffy salutes Ben Hur Tykocinski, Founder of F.O.D (Freedom or Death) and Commander-in-Chief. Then Proffy gives his name:  Avy Proffy Leibowitz, Second in Command.  Head of Internal Security and Interrogation for F.O.D. Then the other boy reports in:  Chita Reznick.  Private and at your service.  The boys meet at some abandoned ruins.  The mission for the day is to paint anti-British graffiti on the walls of structures.  Chita paints: "British go home."  When they hear and see British troops marching down the road, the boys take off running.  The British see the freshly painted graffiti and they spread out to try and catch the culprits. 

At home Proffy hangs a British toy soldier for crimes committed against the Jewish people of Palestine.  Later he goes to the Palestinian market place to buy some fresh vegetables.  He stops also to buy the candy known as knafi, a ricotta type cheese pastry originating from Lebanon.  Proffy also steals a few nails from a furniture maker. 

Proffy goes out with his friends again.  He shows the boys the nails he swiped and says:  "It'll kill at least six Brits!"  They are making a bomb using nails as shrapnel.  They get the gun powder from British bullets. 

A siren goes off and the boys take off running.  Proffy hears rifle fire.  He is grabbed by a British soldier because it's after curfew.  The soldier asks Proffy a lot of questions about his being out and why.  He figures the boy is just giving him a lot of lies, so he arrests him.  They start walking, but the soldier wants to take Proffy to his own home.  He says he can't arrest Proffy without telling his parents.  They have to walk up a lot of steps to get there and the soldiers gets winded.  He stops and tells Proffy that he is Steven Dunlop from Canterbury about 95 km outside London.  Proffy gives his name and says he's from Israel.  Steven quotes from the Book of Samuel and Proffy didn't know that Christians share the Old Testament with the Jewish people.  The soldier says what kind of name is Proffy?  He says it's short for professor, since a lot of people think he's smart. 

When they reach Proffy's house Steven says he's not going to arrest Proffy today.  But if he catches Proffy again, he will definitely arrest him.  He also tells Proffy that most afternoons he's at the cafe at the Orient Palace. 

When Proffy goes into his house, his father and mother immediately jump on him for still another curfew violation.  Dad grounds him for a week.  And his allowance is frozen until September.  Dad locks Proffy in his room. 

At night Proffy is awakened by voices and the sound of furniture moving.  The parents are helping illegal Jewish refugees into Israel.  Proffy bangs on his door asking who's out there?  He also says that this is his house too.  His dad tells him that it is very important now that Proffy be quiet.  Proffy stops his yelling and banging on the door. 

As soon as Proffy's grounding is over, he rushes outside to see his friends.  He tells them he has a spy operation he wants to put into operation.  His friends want to know more, but Proffy says first he has to have a clearer picture of what's actually going on. 

Running through the market place, the candy sellers stop Proffy and say that they haven't seen him for a week.  Proffy says he was very busy and now he has to go.  He starts running.  He goes to the Orient Palace on the British base.  He walks around until he finds the cafe.  Steven isn't there, so he goes searching for him in the outdoor cafe.  There he finds and says hello to Sgt. Dunlop.  The Sergeant is reading from the Book of Samuel.  He tells Proffy that he's trying to learn Hebrew. 

The next day Proffy comes to visit the Sergeant again. They play chess and have something to drink at the cafe.  The Sergeant teaches Proffy some tougher English words and Proffy teaches the Sergeant some tougher Hebrew words. 

Coming home from a celebration, Proffy and his family are passed by a funeral.  Proffy asks who died and father tells him that the British killed someone in Haganah.   

Three British soldiers come to Proffy's house to search the place. The leader of the group of three sees a British toy soldier hanging from Proffy's bed post.  He asks Proffy if he is mocking us?  Proffy doesn't know the word "mocking".  So the soldier, holding the hanged toy soldier up for all to see, asks Proffy:  "Is this what you want to do to us?"  He drops the toy on the floor and pushes past Proffy's father to leave the house. 

An angry Proffy comes to see Sergeant Dunlop and asks him if the sergeant sent the soldiers to his house?  Dunlop says no, but two of their men were captured and killed, and there's been a crackdown.  Proffy is still mad and he shouts what are the British doing here?  Why are thet occupying their country?  The other soldiers are not happy to hear Proffy mouthing off to the sergeant.  So the sergeant grabs the boy and forcibly walks him out the door.  He gets Proffy outside, but it doesn't slow Proffy down.  He says that the British are evil.  He runs away. 

The boys say they will explode their bomb on Tuesday. 

Proffy studies his young lady across the way with his binoculars.  (brief nudity)  Yardena then closes her curtains.  He is definitely becoming more sexually aware of his surroundings. 

Proffy comes back to see Sgt. Dunlop.  He asks him if he has a wife?  No, but he has a girlfriend who looks like the American actress Kathryn Grayson.  Dunlop asks him if he has a girlfriend?  Sort of.  He has a girl in the neighborhood that he likes a lot (Yardena), but she is too beautiful for him.  Dunlop laughs at that.  He tells Proffy to tell the girl that she's too beautiful.  That should go down well with the girl. 

Sgt. Dunlop offers Proffy a trip home in his jeep.  What Proffy forgot, however, is that today is the day they are supposed to throw their bomb at the British soldiers.  His two buddies are already in position to throw the bomb on a British convoy.  They are wondering where is Proffy? 

All of a sudden, Proffy remembers today is Tuesday.  He tells Dunlop to take a different road than this one.  Proffy has to keep insisting that Dunlop take another road.  He gets so hot and bothered that Dunlop decides to do what Proffy asks. The two other members of F.O.D. set the bomb to go off.  As Dunlop turns left onto another road, an explosion is heard.  Dunlop drops Proffy off at his house.  When he goes in his mother is waiting for him.  It's after curfew again.  She asks Proffy where was he and her son says he was with his friends. She tells him that he was most certainly not with his friends because they came over looking for Proffy. 

The two friends come over and ball out Proffy for missing their important mission.  Proffy says he was looking at a beautiful girl and completely forgot about the mission.  Chita asks him:  "What kind of soldier are you that can't think straight because of a stupid girl?"  The boys want to know now if Proffy is really with them?  Proffy says of course he is with them, but the boys are not so sure.  They walk away from him.  Proffy goes home and plays kill the British again, but this time he takes out one
British soldier which he chooses as Sgt. Dunlop and puts him under his pillow.  And then he kills all the British. 

The next day the two boys decide to follow Proffy.  They watch in amazement as the two British guards say hello to Proffy and just let him walk on through and up to the Orient Palace. 

Proffy plays snooker with Dunlop, who tells Proffy that he talked to his girl on the telephone recently.  Proffy says he really wants to know what they talked about.  So Dunlop says he talked about when he will leave Israel and be back to his sweetheart.  This mention of leaving disturbs Proffy and he asks Dunlop when he will be leaving?  Dunlop says nobody knows the date.  There is, however, some talk about leaving. 

Dunlop and Proffy have a drink together.  Dunlop says that he thinks that after the British leave there is going to be a Hebrew state.  Proffy says that's what they want.  Dunlop agrees, but says the creation of the state of Israel will set off a lot of trouble in the Middle East.  Proffy says everything will be better after the British leave, that is, except for Dunlop leaving.  Before Proffy leaves, he gives Dunlop his fifth-grade reader based on the Book of Samuel.  He also gives the sergeant a workbook that goes with the book.  Dunlop is touched by Proffy's giving him a gift. 

The two boys watch Dunlop and Proffy as they talk just outside the Orient Palace.  They even watch them when they salute each other.

The boys have written on a wall that Proffy is a traitor.  A large group of Jewish neighbors come over to the Liebowitz house.  They are worried about their boy Proffy and his cooperation with the British.  The two boys says Proffy has been passing secrets to the British because almost every day he talks to a British soldier. A woman says that Proffy should be interrogated.  Father tells them that he will deal with Proffy.  Proffy tells this two friends that they should have asked him about this matter first.  The two boys start to attack Proffy, but the adults put a stop to that quickly. 

And now mom and dad have to ask their Jewish refugees to go elsewhere because the neighbors might be watching their house night and day.  In bed, mom tells dad that he should start really listening to what Proffy tells him.  This just makes dad mad and he says that his wife is trying to blame him for Proffy seeing a British soldier. 

Proffy rushes over to see Dunlop.  He says that his friends found out about his visits to Dunlop, and now his parents are ashamed of him.  Jewish neighbors call him a traitor and he will be interrogated.  Dunlop says he will go and speak to his parents.  Proffy doesn't want that.  He says it won't help and it might make Dunlop's position with the British army more troubled.  Dunlop starts to say that Proffy is really something greata, but says instead that he really wishes that Proffy could meet his girlfriend Priscilla and his mother.  Proffy says maybe one day it will be possible.  But he won't be able to come to England for a while, yet. 

The public interrogation of Proffy begins.  The interrogator says that Proffy has a real relationship with a Sgt. Dunlop, a British soldier.  Proffy says he and Dunlop are just friends.  The interrogator asks why did they start visiting each other?  Proffy's answer is that Dunlop was a very interesting person to talk to.  He likes to talk about the Hebrew people and the Bible.  His father is a minister.  The interrogator wants to know what kinds of question did Dunlop ask him.  Any questions about Jewish underground activity?  No.  About politics?  Not really.  Dunlop knows that Proffy hates the British occupation.  The interrogator seems satisfied for the moment, but he does tell the family that they will be under surveillance for the next month.  And Proffy is to have no more contact with this British soldier.

Dunlop is being send home now.  He's all packed.  He asks his friend to tell the boy that was always visiting with him, that he got called back home and he couldn't get in contact with Proffy before it was time for him to leave.  And tell him that Dunlop wishes him a brilliant life.  (The problem is that Dunlop's military friend does not like Jews or Arabs and it would therefore seem logical that he wouldn't tell Proffy.)

Proffy goes back to school after summer vacation.  The teacher welcomes a new student:  Rachel Hochberg.  She does not speak Hebrew.  That doesn't matter to Proffy, because he likes her anyway.  Then the teacher says he hopes they all had a good summer vacation, despite what happened over the summer (referring to Proffy and Dunlop).  The kids start booing and throwing things at Proffy.   They keep it up until the teacher has to yell at them to stop. 

Proffy goes to find Dunlop.  He even asks the man who was supposed to give Proffy Dunlop's message where is Dunlop?  The man says absolutely nothing about Dunlop.  Proffy's very upset that he did not get to see Sgt. Dunlop.  He runs home, jumps in bed and starts crying. 

The interrogator says to Proffy's parents that they have made the decision to exonerate their son.  But the boy must not be involved in anything controversial.

Proffy tries to becomes friends again with Chita, but Chita won't accept him.  At dinner Proffy says to his parents that his supposed enemy was much nicer to him the his supposed friends.  And now Proffy asks if there's any chance they could go back to Poland?  He says he wants to go because:  "I'm ruined in this country."  Dad just gets mad at Proffy and tells him that there's no way in hell that they are going back to Poland. 

Now Proffy hangs out more with the Palestinian candy sellers.  At least, they like Proffy. 

Proffy gets upset when his parents say they are going to be gone for a few days.  They have a memorial service for one of the people who lived in their Polish town.  Proffy wants to know why he can't go with them.  He says that they are always leaving him behind.  It's just unfair, says he.  It's cruel. 

Mother says that a neighbor will watch out for Proffy.  Her name is Yardena and she lives across the way.  She is the young woman who works at the bakery.  And now, of course, Proffy no longer wants to object to staying home.  He will have his crush with him.  So Proffy now says:  "You're right.  I can be such a selfish child, always thinking about myself, never thinking about my parents.  Go to the memorial service and have a wonderful time."

Proffy is thrilled when Yardena comes running around the corner in the morning.  The parents leave and the first thing Yardena says to Proffy is:  "So you're the little traitor boy."  Then they go upstairs.  At night, Yardena starts cooking a meal, while Proffy helps her.  After dinner, she asks if Proffy gave the British any secrets?   No.  He was just friends with a British sergeant, who was interested in the things he had to say.  At 11 pm Yardena puts Proffy to bed.  She locks his door and tells him he must not come out of his room. 

Yardena has her boyfriend over to the house and they hug and kiss.  Proffy hears the sounds of love making.  He grabs a stool so he can stand on it to see if he could look out the small window at the top of his door. 

In the morning he tells Yardena that he doesn't always go to school.  Sometimes he stays at home.  He already knows what they are going to teach him for the school is too slow for him.  He suggests that he stay home and Yardena can teach him some things about life.  No, Proffy must go to school. Besides, asks Yardena, doesn't Proffy have his binoculars to teach him about real life?  And by the time Proffy gets back from school, his parents will already be home.  So Proffy is going to have to tell Yardena something pretty fast.  He tells her he never could talk to her when he wanted to because she is just too beautiful.  Yarden is flattered and says well, thank you.  Proffy says she's welcome.

At school Proffy used the same line he used on Yardena with his schoolmate Rachel.  Then he runs away.  That remark by Proffy makes Rachel feel very good.  Proffy runs home. 

U.N. Resolution, November 29, 1947.  Proffy gets to stay up with the adults gathered in one room.  They are listening to the U.N. vote on Jewish independence on the radio.  The roll call is read and the countries vote yes, no or abstains.  The United Kingdom says they abstain.  The USA, of course, says yes.  The resolution passes and Israel will be independent.  The people hug each other.   Then they go outside and start dancing around. Proffy comes out to.  He takes his toy soldier, Sgt. Dunlop, with him and shows the celebration to Dunlop from atop a wall. 

London 30 years later.  Proffy, all grown up and the author of a book, talks about the question of Israel and Palestine to an audience.  After his talk, he signs books for the people who bought the book.  Then a 5th grade reader based on the Book of Samuel is pushed slowly across the desk to Proffy.  Proffy recognizes the book almost immediately and he slowly raises his head to see Sgt. Dunlop.  As the former sergeant speaks, he gets choked-up.  He then says:  "Hello, Proffy."  Proffy gets up out of his chair and walks around to the front of the desk.  The two men hug each other.  "Hello, Sgt. Dunlop."  Dunlop says:  "Shalom."
 

 

Good film.  This movie shows the state of hostility between the occupying forces of the British in Palestine and the Jewish settlers.  Despite the hostility, a Jewish boy named Proffy makes friends with a British sergeant named Dunlop who arrests Proffy for curfew violation.  The intelligence and curiosity of Proffy so impresses Dunlop that he decides not to arrest Proffy.  Instead, he walks Proffy to his home and lets him go.  Dunlop himself is interested in Jewish history and the Hebrew language, especially the Book of Samuel.  His father was a clergyman.  He sees Proffy as a way into getting to know more about the Jewish culture and people.  So he asks Proffy to come see him some times on the British base.  Proffy and Dunlop becomes friends and they both learn a lot from their relationship.

The hostilities between the British and the Jewish community, causes many in the Jewish neighborhood to call Proffy a traitor.  Proffy even has to go through a public interrogation, but still maintains his friendship with Dunlop.   The tension comes in because the audience fears that both Proffy and Dunlop might get into serious trouble that they can't get out of. 

Ido Port (as Proffy) and Alfred Molina (as Sgt. Dunlop) both did an excellent job of acting. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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