‘Omar’: Caught in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

No one likes a snitch, but that’s what the Israelis want from him.

Chalk it up to bad luck, or being a kid from the wrong side of the fence. Omar’s (Adam Bakri) another casualty in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Written by Israeli-born Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, “Omar” tells the story of a young Palestinian freedom fighter and his best friends, Tarek (Iyad Hoorani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). As they plan rebellions together, Omar spends his days baking bread, avoiding the Israeli police, climbing fences and slipping love letters to Tarek’s sister, Nadia (Leem Lubany).

This changes when an Israeli soldier gets shot. The Israelis arrest Omar, entrapping his confession. But Israeli agent Rami (Waleed Zuaiter) lets him go, hoping Omar will lead him to the rebellion’s mastermind, Tarek.

Like Abu-Assad’s “Paradise Now” (2005), “Omar” embeds itself with the Palestinian side of the story — which means, Israel is the big, bad bully and Palestine is the boy next door, trying to exit the lunch line without losing his money. Only, Palestine’s tired of getting beat up.

“We have no other way to fight,” says a Palestinian pledging to be a martyr in “Paradise Now.” “Israel views partnership with and equality for the Palestinians under the same democratic system as suicide for the Jewish state. Nor will they accept a two-state compromise even though it’s not fair to the Palestinians. We either accept the occupation forever or disappear.”

Like the martyr, Omar and his friends choose to fight Israeli occupation. But it also comes at a high price. Abu-Assad spins a beautiful and heartbreaking political tale about love, loyalty and the cost of freedom.

At its center is romance: the star-crossed lovers caught between an endless feud. But not even death can end bloodshed when there’s this much on the line.

There was never a tale of more woe than this of Palestine and her Israel.

“Omar” was written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad and nominated for Best Foreign Film in the 2014 Academy Awards. Abu-Assad also directed “Paradise Now.”


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