Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 18, 2019

Our Boys

Filed under: Counterpunch,Palestine,television — louisproyect @ 9:34 pm


Last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a boycott against Israel’s channel 12 for producing the HBO mini-series “Our Boys.” He described it as anti-Semitic and slandering Israel internationally. This month I watched “Our Boys” and can recommend it not only as a docudrama but as a brutally honest retelling of how the Israeli cops apprehended 3 West Bank settlers that murdered a 16-year old Palestinian boy. They were seeking to avenge Hamas’s killing of 3 teen-aged boys who were settlers like them. What makes the show so authentic was the division of labor between Israeli and Palestinian film-makers who were determined to get the story right. The Israelis wrote the script for the Jewish characters. They were either cops or part of the West Bank settlement that bred the racism that allowed 3 men to beat a defenseless teen with a wrench until barely conscious. They finished him off by pouring gasoline down his throat and then setting fire to him.

It was left to director/screenwriter Tawfik Abu-Wael to bring the Palestinians to life. To his great credit, he has made the parents of the martyred son Mohammed Abu Khdeir two of the more fully realized Palestinian characters in any film I have seen. As the father Hussein Abu Khdeir, Johnny Arbid portrays a man being torn by two opposing forces, even to the point of splitting him in half psychologically. On one side is the Palestinian community that is mainly interested in his son being exploited as a martyr to benefit the movement. On the other is the Israeli police that needs his cooperation to help them make the arrest and prosecution of 3 settlers acceptable to most Israelis. His presence at the trial is key, even if it means defying the Palestinian political leadership. They denounce the trial in advance as being a farce that would allow the 3 to go free. His wife Suha Abu Khdeir (Ruba Blal) can accept his decision to cooperate with the police but is still distrustful enough to consider not showing up for the trial. Their drama, including the horrors of discovering what happened to their son, helps to draw you into the story.

Continue reading


  1. It’s a superb series, and Shlomi Elkbetz is an amazing charismatic actor. But there are big problems with the representation of Shin Bet/Shabak: as Jonathan Ofir points out in a piece in MONDOWEISS, Shabak withheld the second part of the taped call from the three captured Jewish teens, which made it almost certain that they had been killed–this allowed Israeli forces to commence a rampage through the West Bank and Gaza: “By the 25th of June, Israeli police officials were already saying that the kidnapping was not an act of the Hamas leadership, but the claim became a useful means for Netanyahu to escalate into the unprecedented 51-day onslaught on Gaza. The kidnappings of June helped Netanyahu extricate himself from a very uncomfortable position, where Hamas and Fatah had joined into a unity government, which accepted parameters which the international community was willing to work with.”

    Finally, for all it’s strengths, OUR BOYS IS weakened by the chronic “shoot and cry” ideology of Israeli liberals, stretching back to S. Yizhar’s KHIRBET KHIZEH of 1949. No tears, ever, for Shabak. The motif of the upright and sensitive Shabak agent should be familiar to Americans who have seen THE SIEGE, where our great holdfast against an Islamophobic coup d’etat led by General Bruce Willis is a heroic FBI agent played by Special Agent Denzel Washington.


    Comment by James Holstun — October 19, 2019 @ 1:46 pm

  2. Generally speaking, any film or TV show with a hero cop has to bend the truth. That includes “Wallander”, a detective series on Swedish TV that was written by Marxists and is my favorite in this genre. For the best analysis of these contradictions, I recommend Ernest Mandel’s “Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story.”

    Comment by louisproyect — October 19, 2019 @ 1:57 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: