Why Gaza Is the Real-World Set for ‘The Hunger Games’

Israel promotes apologists for the kind of violence that leveled Gaza City’s Shujaiya neighborhood as “experts,” including one advocating rape. (Ali Jadallah / APA images)

I could have never imagined myself drawing parallels between my refugee camp, Nuseirat, in the Gaza Strip, its heroic people, and a Hollywood movie; the struggle of my people is too sacred for that. But I couldn’t help it as I watched the latest from The Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay.

A feeling of anger initially overwhelmed me when I saw the districts destroyed by the heartless rulers of the Capitol. As I watched the movie, not only resistance of Palestine, but particularly that of Gaza, was on my mind.

The Capitol – with unmatched military technology and access to an enormous media apparatus – was unstoppable in its brutality. Its rulers, who claimed to have superiority over all the inhabitants of the dystopia of Panem, had no moral boundaries whatsoever.

The Hunger Games, the story’s version of a reality television show, was created as an annual event to celebrate the victory of the Capitol over a previous revolt by the districts. It also served as a reminder of what the Capitol was capable of, if anyone dared to rise up again in the future.

The show’s participants – all children who were chosen or volunteered in a process called the “reaping” – came from every district. The contestants had to kill one another for the amusement of the Capitol, which drew its strength from the division and oppression of others. But the districts rebelled.

They resisted because there can be no other response to systematic oppression but resistance. District 13 was annihilated early on so that the rest of the districts dare not entertain any ideas aside from the Capitol’s insistence that resistance is futile. Panem’s ruthless president was adamant at referring to those who defied the Capitol as “radicals,” and not “rebels.” At times, the Capitol tried to turn the districts against one another, inciting civil war.

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