The Six Day War in 1967 was a rout with the greatly outnumbered Israeli army drove the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian forces from its borders, tripling its size in the process. The footage at the time was one of joyous soldiers reaching the Suez and the Old City of Jerusalem. A victory for Zionism.
But not all felt that way.
In the three weeks after the ceasefire, pre-fame writers Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira gathered together Israeli soldiers for an informal chat about their thoughts on their experiences on the front line: "Not what they did… but how they felt." Only thirty percent of these interviews were allowed to be published… until now. Director Mor Loushy (Israel Ltd.) locates Oz and several of those interviewed to have them listen back to the recordings made almost fifty years before.
What unfolds is far from the party line that Israel has a right to defend itself. Loushly juxtaposes the propaganda footage of joyous scenes of soldiers ‘freeing’ the Old City in Jerusalem and reaching the Western Wall with the detached, nonplussed voiceover of witnesses who cared less for the symbolic achievement: "The Western Wall isn’t worth my fingernail," says one, while others didn’t want to pick up a weapon at all. Some are appalled by the brutality they witnessed: even after the ceasefire was called, Israeli troops still operated search-and-destroy missions, rooting out unsuspecting Egyptian soldiers in the dunes. Others stood by as prisoners were badly treated and murdered, feeling “evil” and that "Zionism is a tragedy". One soldier draws parallels of what the Jews suffered during WWII and how the Israelis forcibly evacuated Palestinians from their territory.
To balance things somewhat, not all interviewed came to this conclusion. Some former soldiers talk about the power they felt when pushing around prisoners and civilians, while one confesses that he was once a liberal but has turned increasingly more right wing in the intervening years.
Loushy unearths some wonderful footage, cutting back from grainy war scenes of young men in uniform to old men in civvies listening to the voices of their younger selves. One telling scene has an ABC reporter outside a rundown refugee camp issue a chilling warning: "The only thing growing her are the seeds of revenge."