This is a compelling and moving documentary with a relatively novel format, which may not initially seem compelling but which is well worth your time. The film tells the story of Israeli soldiers’ experiences during the Six Day War through audio recordings made just after the war, which were suppressed by the Israeli government for most of the next fifty years. The result is a film that unfortunately has way too much to say about the Israeli Palestinian conflict today.
The film simply is newsreel and home movie footage combined with audio recordings of soldiers discussing the war in the weeks after it ended. The concept doesn’t seem like it’s going to work that well initially and in the early going it feels like it might only be of interest to Israelis or Israeli veterans. But, as the conversations progress, there are all sorts of insights into both the war itself and the nature of the Israeli conflict, some of which are remarkably prescient.
Not all the soldiers are in complete agreement (which is nice) but most of them agree that the way the Israeli government and Israeli and international media portrayed the war was false. This isn’t a surprise really to any of us who think about the human costs of these things, but it might be for any Israelis who have grown up being taught this was a great victory with no negatives. (Also, apparently this war is central to Israeli government propaganda, though I wouldn’t know.) This part is reasonably interesting, certainly affecting, and likely an important antidote to the dominant narrative.
But what’s really compelling are the comments made by the soldiers about their feelings of occupying Arab territory and their predictions of what might happen in the future. Some of these comments, made in the summer of 1967, feel like they could have been made far in the future. It’s these comments that really make the film worthwhile and, frankly, depressing. If mere soldiers could see the folly of the victory in 1967, surely others could have seen the same at the time, and at least lessened the negative consequences that resulted.