My father Dan Leon passed away five years ago. On his year memorial we screened in the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival the film “Who’s Left“. A fifty minutes documentary that tells his personal story.
Following is the synopsis wrote for that film.
Each morning, Dan Leon my 76 years old father leaves his house situated in Nahlaaot, Jerusalem, and takes the 23-bus to the Palestinian part of Jerusalem.
After a 10 minutes’ walk in the streets of Eastern Jerusalem, an area very few Israelis dare to roam, he arrives to a humble office with no identification signs (Due to apprehension from hostilities to be committed by either side…).
In his office he meets Layla Dabdub and Ziad Abu-Ziad, a member of the Palestinian cabinet, his Palestinian associates of editing the political quarterly – Palestine Israel Journal, a joint Israeli-Palestinian quarterly established in 1994, right after the Oslo agreements. The modest newspaper’s office is probably one of the last places where Israelis and Palestinians still work together.
During the 7 years of publishing, my father has not missed a single day of work, even on times of terror acts and riots.
Sometimes the personal story and life course of a single man depict the story of an era or a process. In Gallop the character represents a larger group of radical leftists, who used to describe themselves as “political animals”. They were driven by great faith and vision, and towards the end of their lives, they receive great and cruel disappointment.
Gallop tells the story of the Zionist left wing in Israel, and specifies its trajectory of radical changes, the shattering of the communist dream, the peace opportunities and the numerous crisis and conflicts.
The film will depict the personal story of Dan Leon, through my critic and inspecting eyes as his eldest son, with a clarification of our disagreements and my personal attempts to grasp the “left wing enthusiasm” that I usually refer to as a fanatical belief, and sometimes even as a complete lost of sanity.
The story stretches over 100 years and truthfully represents the trajectory of events of the Israeli Zionist left wing and the obstinate, sometimes pathetic, struggle of a group of believers who continue until this very day in their struggle for Jewish-Arab coexistence.
Despite the expected political presence, my intention is to use it as an illustration for a personal film that will convey my father’s personality and innocence. He always refrained from dealing with “messy” politics – inevitable in the life of a political leader or a member of the Kneset – although he had the opportunities to do so.
My father’s “gallop” for peace is also typified in his attitude toward his surroundings, and this quality of altruism will be expressed during the film through my meetings with his family and many friends in Israel, amid the Palestinians and around the world. Sometimes it seems to me that unlike the Middle Eastern coexistence, where my father received bitter disappointment, he received his delight from the coexistence of the individual-level.
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