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TO MAY 24
Does maintaining a state of constant war corrupt a society’s values? That’s the implication of two recent Israeli documentaries that, respectively, analyze a still-disputed battle from the Yom Kippur War and introduce “refuseniks” who rejected their role in occupying Palestinian territory. Nir Toib’s Chinese Farm: Rashomon (at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17) recounts a bloody 1973 clash that one survivor calls “a terrible failure” but whose commanders insist was a success. Constructed from myriad talking-head interviews, the movie is more perplexing and less dramatic than the Kurosawa classic from which it takes its subtitle, but the moral drawn by the film’s dissenters is clear enough: that the alleged whitewash of the case fits a larger pattern of cynicism and manipulation that undermines what they consider to be the country’s true ethos. That creed is also expressed in the opening and closing words of Shiri Tsur’s On the Objection Front (pictured; at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 24), from a 50-year-old speech in which David Ben-Gurion anticipates his country’s someday disbanding its military. But the only dismantling has come on an individual basis, as some soldiers and pilots announced their refusal to fight outside Israel’s 1967 borders or to support the intimidation and torture of Palestinians. “There are some things you just don’t do to other people,” says one refusenik—a comment that, in the age of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, has resonance far beyond Israel. The series runs to Tuesday, May 24, at the Washington Jewish Community Center’s Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater, 1529 16th St. NW. $8.50. (202) 777-3247. (Mark Jenkins)