Documentary ‘Oriented’ Looks at Gay Palestinians in Tel Aviv

For 15 months, filmmaker Jake Witzenfeld, a straight British Jew, followed three gay Palestinians — Khader Abu-Seif, Fadi Daeem, and Naeem Jiryes — as they lived their lives in Tel Aviv.

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Israel’s 1.7 million Arab citizens account for 20% of the country’s population, but as members of this large minority, Abu-Seif, Daeem, and Jiryes are caught between worlds, straddling rigid divides.

They feel themselves to be less Palestinian than those in the Occupied Territories, and though they hold Israeli passports, their ethnic identity resists the label “Israeli.” They live in Tel Aviv, a haven for gay life in the Middle East, but that link to their fellow LGBT Israelis is tenuous.

Witzenfeld initially sought to explore the confused space occupied by gay Arab-Israelis, to learn how young, progressive Palestinians orient themselves within their society. For them, even the simplest decisions — whether to go out to an Arab or Jewish club, whether a guy is too Zionist to date, whether to pre-drink to Hebrew or Arabic music — carry undue weight.

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