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The Return of the Repressed / 219day.”5The very exhibition of an Israeli film on a Palestinian issue certifies, as itwere, the reality of democracy and reassures the liberal conscience of both theproducers and the receivers of the images.The refusal to censor or prohibit the films did not, however, exempt themfrom semiofficial obstacles, at times, engendered by the self-same preoccupationwith images, this time from a more rightist concern with the negative impact ofprojecting a critical picture of Israel. An unproblematic film within the countrycan become controversial when distributed abroad. WhenHamsinwas shown atthe Israeli Film Festival in New York, for example, the General Consul of Israelin New York decided not to lend official backing to the festival and not to takepart as a major speaker because the “film might hurt the image of Israel.”6(TheIsraeli economic representative in New York and the Center for the Israeli Film inJerusalem, however, gave support to the screening ofHamsinin New York.) In thecase ofIsrael 83, a compilation of six short films made by various filmmakers, whosecommon theme is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and more precisely theeffect of the occupation on the occupiers, classical censorship was applied. YehudaNe’eman’s episode,The Night the King was Born(HaLaila bo Nolad haMelech), wasoriginally censored by the Council of Criticism of Films and Plays because the filmdefamed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and would provoke storms among theArab population,7as if “storms” on the West Bank depended on the reproductionof abuses on celluloid. The censorship order was canceled only after a protestfrom the producer (Tzavta Theater). Whereas most of the episodes tended towardabsurdist symbolic tales such as Yigal BursztynThe Anguish of Dr. Vider(Yisuravshel Dr. Vider) and Ram Levi’sSurvival(Hisardut) or toward psychological dramaas in Shimon Dotan’sSouvenirs from Hebron(Mazkarot meHevron),The Night theKing Was Bornfocuses directly and in a realistic style on the violent expropriationof land carried out on the West Bank with the support of the army. This directnessprovoked the ire of the censors, who, although formally prohibited from censoringon purely political grounds, could nevertheless, according to the enabling 1928law (inherited from British colonialism), refuse or allow permission to a film“according to its view.” The producers’ legal defense was obliged to contest thecensors’ argument about the distortion of the IDF’s image by citing cases in whichthe army actually used its power to force Arabs to sign papers. Thus the censorswere obliged to permit the film’s screening, managing only to excise some footageshowing the army’s physical abuses, on the grounds, ironically, of “morality.”8The films at times face obstacles at the production stage. In the case of NissimDayan’sA Very Narrow Bridge, the filming suffered from the very pressures andbarriers discussed in the film.A Very Narrow Bridge, which revolves around a