Film on 1976 plane hijacking illuminates Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says director

Brazilian director Jose Padilha, English actress Rosamund Pike and German actor Daniel Bruehl pose on the red carpet upon arrival for the premiere of the film ‘7 Days in Entebbe’ during the 68th Berlinale film festival. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2018

Film on 1976 plane hijacking illuminates Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says director

BERLIN: A film depicting the 1976 hijacking of an airliner to Entebbe, Uganda and the spectacular rescue of passengers by Israeli commandos casts light on the enduring obstacles to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, its director said.
“7 Days in Entebbe,” which premiered on Monday at the Berlin film festival, focuses on the hostages and their hijackers — two militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two from an allied West German ultra-leftist group.
The flight was en route from Tel Aviv to Paris on June 27, 1976 when, after a stopover in Athens where four hijackers slipped on board, it was commandeered and diverted to Entebbe. The four hijackers were joined by several others there.
Separating Israeli from non-Israelis after removing them from the plane, the hijackers freed 148 non-Israeli passengers over the course of several days and kept 94 mainly Israeli passengers along with the 12 crew members, threatening to kill them if their demands were not met.
In the film, as terrified hostages await their fate in a grimy, disused airport terminal building, Israeli politicians debate whether to negotiate with the hijackers — who want dozens of imprisoned Palestinian guerrillas and other militants freed — but ultimately decide on the rescue mission.
After a 2,500-mile (4,000-km) undercover flight to Uganda, elite Israeli military commandos stormed the terminal building under cover of darkness on July 4, saving all but four of the hostages, who were killed, and killing all the hijackers.
The only death among the commandos was their commander Yonatan Netanyahu, eldest brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who became a national hero.
Director Jose Padilha said it was difficult for Israeli or Palestinian politicians to negotiate because those who do so lose political clout among their compatriots — something he wanted to demonstrate in his movie.
“In this recurrent conflict, it’s very easy for politicians to present themselves as: ‘I’m going to defend you against the enemy’, and, once you frame the relationship as a relationship like that — two enemies — it becomes hard to negotiate,” he said at a post-screening news conference. “That’s still true today.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have been frozen for years over Israeli settlements in occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state, borders, refugees and the disputed status of Jerusalem.
Rosamund Pike, who plays one of the militants from the West German Revolutionary Cells, said all the characters had a cause and the film presents the beliefs of the hijackers and Israeli government alike but leaves it up to viewers to make a judgment.
“I think we all agree that any act of extremism is deplorable. But it is interesting to not make them one-dimensional villains but be able to recognize that emotion, human emotion, plays a part, whether you’re the hero or villain, right?” she told Reuters.
Her co-star Daniel Bruehl, who plays the other West German hijacker, said the film tried to show there were multiple versions of history rather than just one.
“(It’s) a film that is not easy, a film in which you know all these different voices and mindsets are heard and seen in order to understand also where we are coming from and what the situation is right now,” he said.
Jacques Lemoine, an engineer who survived the hijacking, said he liked the film and found it was an accurate depiction.
“7 Days in Entebbe,” is one of around 400 films being screened at this year’s Berlinale but is not competing for the Golden and Silver Bears to be awarded on Saturday. The festival in the German capital runs until Feb. 25.

Zighy Stardust: A-list luxury living at Six Senses in Oman

A two bedroom villa at the Six Senses in Zighy Bay. (Supplied)
Updated 35 min 39 sec ago

Zighy Stardust: A-list luxury living at Six Senses in Oman

  • The luxurious resort Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on a bay near a small village
  • The aesthetics of Six Senses are simple and practical

DUBAI: After a two-hour drive from Dubai, crossing the border at Dibba into Musandam, Oman, we found ourselves, alone, surrounded by mountainous rocks only made visible by the full moon. The headlights of the car showed a long stretch of endless rough road ahead to us, and no sign of the highly exclusive, luxury resort to which we were headed.

But this is just one of many ways to enter Six Senses Zighy Bay, the holiday resort that has hosted the likes of Bill Gates and Arab royals. You can make a James Bond-style entrance by speedboat from Dibba Marina or, if you’re feeling extra-adventurous, by paraglide tandem.

On our more prosaic road trip, we finally reached the resort, where we were welcomed by Six Senses’ friendly staff, and a 4x4, into which we climbed for the drive up the steep mountain to the resort.
Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on a bay near a small village, shielded by Al-Hajjar mountain range, giving it the privacy most VIPs look for. The story goes that, before the owners were able to build the resort, they had to strike a deal with the villagers, building them new homes and a school, and offering them employment at the resort.
The aesthetics of Six Senses are simple and practical, using stones, wood, and cool desert tones, blending into the natural surroundings. It has the feel of an authentic Omani village — fitted with modern-day luxuries. There are 82 spacious beach villas with their own private pools — fashioned to resemble stone huts — and high walls for privacy.

Inside the open-plan villas, there is a lounge area with glass doors that open out to the infinity pool area, complete with loungers and a majlis. In the bathroom there is a large stone bath and a shower (there’s also a shower outdoors).
For anyone caught-up in the hustle-and-bustle of city life, the first thing you notice is the deafening silence. The distant sound of waves crashing ashore and background birdsong only add to the peaceful tranquility.

The brand’s identity is based on a stripped-back, organic lifestyle in tune with nature and the outdoors. And the whole operation seems effortless. This, in fact, is far from the reality as the resort has a staff of just over 400 to keep things running smoothly.
When it comes to food, the resort is committed to the brand’s philosophy of making food “healthy by default.” They do this by growing as much of the produce as possible in their organic garden or sourcing from local farms.

During our stay we had a taste of their newly launched menus, created by celebrity chef James Knight-Pacheco, in the mountain-top restaurant, Sense on the Edge, which offers breathtaking views. The menu uses French and Japanese techniques with regional flavors for a fine-dining experience. The principle idea behind the menu stems from the concept of “land and sea.” It consists of five- and seven-course “journeys” of meats and poultry (a personal favorite), “voyages” of seafood, or “expeditions” for vegetarians. There’s also a fresh tapas menu at the Zighy Bar, the shining stars of which are their chorizo empanadas.

But the real feast is at the “Spiced Market” breakfast buffet: All types of seasonal fruits, a selection of cheeses, eggs cooked to your taste, or Middle Eastern favorites shakshouka and foul medames.
Aside from its traditionally themed luxury and the variety of food on offer, the real highlight of a stay at Six Senses is the range of activities available. After paragliding over the resort, we went scuba diving (spotting Nemo the clown fish three times). We didn’t have time for rock climbing, mountain biking, or — sadly — a treatment at the resort’s signature spa.

Overall a stay at Six Senses is bound to be unforgettable, with a laid-back luxury that makes it stand out from the high-end competition. Along with its dramatic mountain setting, calming sea views and accommodating staff, it makes for a perfect romantic getaway or an ideal holiday for a young family. But it doesn’t come cheap: Expect a bill to match the exclusive luxury.