Ari walking through the streets of Beruit

Reminscences of Morals

Nahal Sheikh


In atrocities, bystanders might find themselves in a limbo-like state where it is extremely difficult to react responsibly to an occurring injustice. This article investigates the complex bystander character through a social-psychological analysis of Ari Folman's animated documentary film, Waltz with Bashir (2008). Theories of norm learning and delinquent behaviour are used to understand the unconscious self-perception of the protagonist, Ari, of his bystander role in the Sabra and Shatila Massacre of 1982. It is claimed that while Ari sees himself as a perpetrator of the massacre unconsciously, his behaviour as an innocent witness bearing no ethical responsibility creates a disruptive tension that endlessly haunts him.


Atrocity; Perpetrator; Bystander; Victim; Violence; Morality; Norms

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