Fifty years ago, the Israeli film industry was largely churning out pro-Zionist propaganda films (Ephraim Kishon being the rare exception). To represent its face to the world in 2010, Israel brought to the Academy Awards an Arab-language flick co-directed by a Palestinian and a Jewish Israeli, focusing largely on inter-Arab issues; Ajami was one of the five nominees in the Best Foreign Film category.
The Palestinian co-director has been called a collaborator. Israel’s nominating committee has been demonized as a pack of lefties. But something is changing on the streets of Jaffa, whose citizens have been given, in Ajami, both a mirror in which to behold their own community and an international voice.