As one, in a world apart

[this article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian]

A trio of Israeli films being shown around South Africa, explore the often invisible ­Palestinian and Israeli victims of armed conflict.

My grandmother was born in Palestine. I was born in Israel. There are words that capture the worlds that changed, in between those two sentences: atzmaut, independence; and nakba, catastrophe. The first is Hebrew, the second is Arabic. They mean the same thing, and they mean completely different things; the one would not exist without the other.

It took me the better part of 30 years to realise that my views on Israel – its military, its policies – were spectacularly uninformed.

As I started to seek out new information and different viewpoints, I was presented with a number of challenges, not only because I was coming from a Jewish community that, as a whole, is deeply conservative and blindly pro-Israel, but also from the Palestinian activists I attempted to engage with, who would pat my head and tell me it was all very nice I was trying to be a liberal Zionist, but that the state of Israel should not exist at all.

When it comes to Israel and Palestine, we see things as we want to see them – perhaps the most colossal “us” and “them” in recorded human history; even when you are neither (Israeli or Palestinian; Jew or Muslim) the two states still have the ability to polarise dialogue, turn it into an argument. This means we tend to look for information from and ask questions of only those who agree with our world view.

Further, if you are pro-Palestine, you are generally asked to support action against Israel: to boycott Israeli products, whether they are oranges or ideas.

It’s a lot more complicated than that, of course, but it brings me to three very interesting Israeli films – two documentaries and one feature film – screened in South Africa last week, with the sanction of the Embassy of Israel (immediately excluding one group of people), but which, in the case of the documentaries, also overtly challenged and criticised the Israeli state (potentially alienating another sort of viewer).

[read the full text here]

 

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