Nothing brings people together — or rips them apart — like zombies. In the recent Hollywood blockbuster “World War Z,” Israelis and Palestinians band together against swarming hordes of the undead. But this unlikely coalition is short lived. The noise of their joint celebration attracts thousands of flesh-eaters who hurl themselves over a massive security wall and proceed to devour everyone in sight.
This year, Israel unleashes two of its own zombie films, Eitan Gafny’s “Cannon Fodder” and Eitan Reuven’s “Another World.” Reuven’s film has just been completed, while Gafney’s has already garnered four awards at festivals around the world. These films were preceded by the short zombie comedy “Muralim” (“Poisoned”), made in 2011 by Didi Lubetzky. Is there some meaning behind this outbreak of Israeli zombie films, other than the worldwide popularity of the genre?
“World War Z” was largely dismissed by Arab press outlets, such as Al Jazeera, and Arab moviegoers, as “Zionist propaganda.” In that film, Israel is praised for its foresight for constructing a massive wall to keep zombies out. “World War Z” also depicts the Israeli army as a benevolent force that rescues Palestinians. Newspapers such as the Washington Times reported that many Arab filmgoers found these scenes false and insulting. Some believed the zombie-wall represented a covert justification for Israel’s separation barrier. There were even Israeli film critics, such as Chen Hadad for “Achbar ha’Ir” magazine, who took issue with the purely heroic portrayal of the Israeli army. Both sides found the Israeli-Palestinian festivities to be grossly unrealistic. However, these scenes may also represent wish-fulfillment, a genuine desire to see peace in the Middle East. The fact that this peace seems ridiculous to Israelis and Palestinians demonstrates feelings of hopelessness about the conflict.