Muhi: Generally Temporary–Rina Castelnuovo and Tamir Elterman’s Emotional Israeli Docu

MUHI: GENERALLY TEMPORARY

RINA CASTELNUOVO-HOLLANDER and TAMIR ELTERMAN

Muhammad (aka Muhi) is a cherubic Palestinian toddler with an infectious laugh and a life-threatening immune disorder.

With inadequate medical care available to him at home in Gaza, Muhi was transported to an Israeli hospital as a baby for emergency treatment that included amputation of all his limbs.

He has lived in that hospital ever since; running gleefully through its corridors in his prosthetics, it is the only home he’s ever known.

But while the hospital is able to keep Muhi alive and well, it also keeps him and his devoted grandfather, Abu Naim, in a bizarre state of limbo. In Gaza, says his mother, “The boy will die.”

In Israel, Abu Naim is denied a visa or work permit. Stuck on either side of a fiercely guarded checkpoint, their family is indefinitely torn apart. As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rages around them, the no man’s land of the hospital walls that Muhi and his grandfather inhabit is a strange source of both medical salvation and uncomfortable contradictions, where Muhi bounces between Hebrew and Arabic, the Torah and the Koran.

Jerusalem-based journalists Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander and Tamir Elterman place one family’s story within the relentless Mideast strife that impacts everyone.