Good or Bad, Black and White

Amit Goren
Germany, Israel 1995 | 82 Min. | BetaSP, OmU

A car­a­van camp in a desert­ed mil­i­tary base is the first home in Israel for immi­grants arriv­ing from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. Peter from the Ukraine and Chan­nan from Samark­land meet with Fit­igch from Gandar and Gavru from Addis-Ababa. Their cross-cul­tur­al encounter height­ens the already strong feel­ings of uproot­ing, dis­lo­ca­tion and alien­ation. The film fol­lows Peter’s efforts to real­ize his pre-immi­gra­tion dreams of a »Fan­tak­ti­ka Israel« described in offi­cial brochures and his attempts to bring his mother and sis­ters out of the Ukraine. During the six months of prepa­ra­tion and research for GOOD OR BAD, BLACK AND WHITE I vis­it­ed most of the trail­er home (car­a­van) camps which had sprung up with great haste through­out Israel. My ini­tial emo­tion­al reac­tion was empa­thy for the thou­sands of new immi­grants that had arrived from the former Soviet Union and Ehtiopia. Their dream of making a new home in the ancient Jewish land, turned now a modern coun­try, seemed to have col­lapsed in a dusty cloud of iso­la­tion and despa­ra­tion. How else could one feel about the dis­turbing­ly ugly view of end­less rows of car­a­van homes set in a barren land­scape under a scorch­ing sun?

»An old Ethiopi­an woman with a shy smile com­pared her car­a­van home to a tree. – ‘How is that?’ I inquired. – ‘Like a tree’ she said ‘it moves with the wind, back and forth«, refer­ring to the thin spikes some 30 cen­time­ters off the ground, on which her car­a­van was placed. (…) I found an end­less array of human sto­ries at the Bat Hazor Car­a­van Camp, some pes­simistic and tragic, others inspir­ing and opti­mistic. Yet beyond the per­son­al sto­ries there seemd to be a larger over­whelm­ing prob­lem which slowly revealed itself. In a camp where there are such extreme cul­tur­al, lin­gual and racial dif­fer­ences between Rus­sians and Ethiopi­ans the threat of vio­lence hung heavy in the dusty air. It was clear right from the start that although they shared a common reli­gion they could not find it in them­selves to accept each other as equals. What about assim­i­la­tion in this kind of atmos­phere? The camp’s iso­la­tion and dis­tance from any Israeli urban cen­ters only served to com­pli­cate an already charged sit­u­a­tion.« (Amit Goren)