SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2015
By Don Simpson | February 1, 2015
Director: Mor Loushy
By the end of May 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria were amassing military forces along their borders with Israel. Presumably feeling like they were being set-up for annihilation, Israel opted to commence a series of preemptive airstrikes against Egyptian airfields on June 5, 1967. During the course of the next six days, the Israeli military not only eliminated what it perceived as an imminent existential threat, but also managed to triple Israel’s acreage, taking territorial control of Egypt’s Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, Jordan’s West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and Syria’s Golan Heights.
Following their decisive and euphoric victory, Israeli soldiers were treated by their homeland like heroes. Israel’s confidence was high; the Zionist propaganda was given a lot of ammunition. Israel presumably became a military superpower, hopefully discouraging any future antagonism at its borders.
In the weeks following the war, Israeli authors Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira lead an interview project to chronicle the returning soldiers’ true feelings about the Six-Day War. Groups of young men from various kibbutzim sat around reel-to-reel tape recorders and spoke frankly about the ugly underbelly of the war, namely their resulting pain, guilt and misery. These peaceful, thoughtful men were given uniforms and weaponry and turned into monsters. They were instructed to “show no mercy” and “kill as many as possible,” and they zombically obeyed their commanders. The soldiers sorrowfully recount embarrassing tales of the degradation, abuse, rape, murder, and looting of Arab communities. Horrified by the extreme violence and hatred that they had just participated in, the soldiers find themselves extremely regretful about the civilian casualties as well as the displacement of the Arab families from their homes.
Taking its title from the fact that a significant majority of the content of Oz and Shapira’s recordings were dutifully censored by the Israeli military, Mor Loushy’s Censored Voices destroys the Zionist propaganda that has been reverberated over the last five decades. Based on Avraham Shapira’s book, “The Seventh Day: Soldiers’ Talk About the Six-Day War,” Censored Voices returns to Oz and Shapira’s original tapes, revealing the atrocities of war and how quickly human morals and ideals disappear in the state of warfare. Loushy’s approach, aside from occasionally interjecting newsreel footage from the war, is to allow the 1967 recordings to speak for themselves, as she films the facial expressions and incites of those same soldiers in the present day.
Censored Voices not only refutes the overtly positive Zionist version of the the Six-Day War, but the commentary eerily echoes Amnesty International’s recent war crimes allegations against the Israel military during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. As we listen to the soldiers’ recorded testimonies, it is hard to deny just how prophetic their insights have become. It is almost uncanny how some of these men could already comprehend the repercussions of the Six-Day War, especially the animosity that Israel ignited in the populations that they displaced and treated inhumanely. As many of the soldiers accurately prognosticate, Israel’s militaristic bravado during the Six-Day War would destine their country to be in a perpetual state of war.