Punctuating—in more ways than one—his legacy with a major question mark, Ariel Sharon presided over the forced evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza and the West Bank in 2005. Unsettled, Adam Hootnick’s burningly smart documentary, delves into this national crisis, which was a relative blip on the international media’s radar. Though the evacuations were quickly done and left no body count, Hootnick deftly illustrates how they cut to the heart of the question of national identity: Limning a spectrum of Israeli youth—settlers, soldiers, activists—he records the supremely emotional showdowns that resulted as soldiers forced fellow Jews from their homes. “Are you a real Jew or a robot Jew?” one young settler demands of a soldier; “If you don’t cry, you’re not a Jew!” an older woman admonishes. Hootnick has an eye for character and detail, weaving warmth and intelligence into the events; free of voice-over, they are chronicled with bracingly intimate, on-the-fly interviews and juddering, on-the-scene footage. It’s a level of engagement that has proven sadly elusive for most conflicted countries, including this one.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 6, 2008