There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
In February 2006 the new Palestinian legislature opened, and one official sent televised greetings to its members who were behind bars—14 of them. The “hothouse” of this ideologically knotty film’s title is the Israeli prison system, in which radical Palestinian politicos organize and educate themselves for the future. (College-level courses are available, but only in Hebrew.) Like the Irish Republican Army members they resemble, the prisoners can legitimately be termed “freedom fighters” or “terrorists”—or both. Director Shimon Dotan is remarkably even-handed, never denying the Palestinians their intelligence, their conviction, or their sense of humor. Yet the prisoners’ humanity is fortified with fierce extremism, as is most clear in the women’s quarters. One smiling former newscaster is clearly delighted that she was able to report on a pizza-parlor bombing that she helped plan; she doesn’t flinch when she learns how many children died in the blast. If Hothouse demonstrates how Israeli prisons further the Palestinian cause, it also shows that many of their “political” inmates eminently deserve their life sentences.