Annemarie Jacir’s drama Salt of this Sea is an artistically made film that highlights the ordinary life of a Palestinian. Salt of this Sea focuses on a Palestinian-American from Brooklyn, Soraya, who travels to the West Bank and Israel to rediscover her roots as well as retrieve the savings from her recently deceased grandfather. However, Soraya soon finds out that her grandfather’s bank account had been lost during the 1948 war. This is just one of the many instances in which she faces the reality of the hardships of Palestinian life. While visiting, Soraya befriends two Palestinian men, Emad and Marwan. Throughout the film, these three characters and their situations exemplified the physical barriers in which the two men are trapped, and the humiliation that comes with the strict authoritative control they face while moving about the country. This film embodies the psychological pain felt by the Palestinians all over the world by showing how a Palestinian-American young lady in quest of her roots in a country she had never seen before can in fact harbor feelings of longing and belonging. I believe that Jacir’s film Salt of this Sea encompasses two overriding political themes. The first theme I will argue is the theme of liberation for both the Palestinian people and their land currently under Israeli occupation – the right of return. Secondly, I will point out the constant theme of the condemnation of the Palestinian Authority, its failings, and the Ramallah elite. The rest of this paper is divided into sections providing examples of Jacir’s overt affirmation in support of the liberation of Palestine, the inherent right of return, the social constraints in regards to class, and the lack of constructive authority of the Palestinian Officials and Bureaucrats.
The movie begins with a real life news clip depicting a particular scene from the actual Palestinian Diaspora during the creation of the State of Israel (the destruction of Jaffa). In this clip, Palestinian residents are literally being forced to sea from their homeland. The sea, along with the fading of their beautiful homeland into the background, was the last things Palestinian refugees saw before being driven out. When contrasted with the scene that presents Emad and his large family living in a narrow alleyway and all sitting in a tiny room, one can conclude that Jacir is attempting to generate empathy with the Palestinian. This was the first scene of many that was used to illustrate the cultural alienation and inequalities Palestinians suffer.
For example, toward the end of the movie when Soraya and Emad are “behind enemy lines” traveling throughout Israel and visiting all that had been taken from them, they eventually wound up at Emad’s old village. Although it had been years since the last time Emad had stepped foot in his old village, the scene portrayed a sense of closeness with the land, as if the land was and always has been inherently his. This was once again exemplified in the scene where Soraya returned to what had once been her grandfather’s home in Israel. This was a very powerful and emotional scene. It emotionally affected the audience into empathizing with the Palestinian struggle while successfully straying away from demonizing the Israeli owner of her grandfather’s house. Instead, Jacir painted the Israeli as sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The scene depicted the owner drinking out of a coffee mug that read “End the occupation.” She also expressed admiration for the idea of filmmakers in Ramallah and even stated how she wished that the Palestinians had never left. Although as a viewer it is easy to understand the emotional attachment Soraya exemplified, this scene made the point that it is not so easy to return something, even if it had been wrongfully taken. The Israeli government forced her grandfather from his home, not the women currently occupying the house. However, despite its...
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