Not long ago I went down to my local video store to check out a movie. It was a lazy Saturday and there wasn't much else to do. As I strode through the lanes of DVDs that lined the shelves I came across an action flick that caught my eye.
The movie was entitled; SOLDIER. It starred Kurt Russell and was an action flick. 'Why not' I thought to myself. I was in the mood to see senseless violence and this movie seemed to be as senseless as any other.
I popped the DVD in my machine and was soon locked into the whole plot. Not that it was any better than any other action movie out there, but because the premise really hit home.
Kurt Russell's character is a soldier in a futuristic US army. Since birth, he and others were taken from their parents (drafted I guess) and trained to be an elite fighting unit; They feel no pain, have no fear and show no emotions.
The movie shows a montage of the boys learning how to fight with knives, bare-hands, and guns. They are put through punishing physical tests; thousands of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and long runs on hot dusty roads. Those who cannot keep up are immediately executed.
In one particular telling part of the film, we witness Russell's character and his colleagues practice shooting at enemy targets. All the men are accurately and un-hesitatingly hitting their marks. The quick decision making of the men is most interesting. In one sequence, we see Russell and another soldier firing on mannequins dressed up as the enemy; at times they are hiding behind rocks, walls, and buildings trying to take cover.
Russell and the other soldiers quickly find angles and kill them with their keen target eyesight. But then, we see an enemy combatant hiding behind a civilian, the man next to Russell freezes and does not shoot; Russell, however, takes aim and shoots straight through the civilian mannequin and we see the bullets penetrate through her and hit the combatant.
The movie goes on to show these same soldiers graduating and moving on to fight in various futuristic wars; THE WAR OF THE SIX CITIES, THE RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE etc. In all these wars we see the soldiers being highly successful in dispatching the enemy. In one incident we see an enemy combatant holding a machine gun to the head of a civilian. Russell looks on coldly, aims his weapon and shoots her and the combatant as he did in the drills. The two are killed instantly and Russell moves on seeking out other targets with so much as a blink of an eye for what he has just done.
I watched this movie in worried fascination.
Well, to be honest stories like this are not that far-fetched anymore. The futuristic things that Hollywood thought up only ten or twenty years ago are now coming to pass. To be more specific, I can't help but think of what is going through the minds of commanders of the Israeli forces that allow bombs to be dropped on apartment buildings that house 'suspected' militants, but also innocent civilians, killing both in the process.
The army often makes the calim that they were unaware that civilians were in the buildings or that the millitants often hide in areas where civillian populations are. But whether or not the millitants hide behind civillians does this make what the army is doing right?
At the moment I see Gaza fitting in quite easily to the movie that I described above starring Kurt Russell. Is this what it has come down to? Are we now relying on the movies to determine what is right and wrong and who is good or bad?
I'm sure I'll get heat from some readers over my comparisons of the movie and the Israeli army, but I've lived in Palestine long enough to see the facts on the ground.
Thankfully, in the end of the film Russell's character realized that human life was worth valuing. I hope for the sake of the Gaza residents, the Israeli army will see the same thing.