Monday, January 25, 2021

How to Build Interest in Israel/Palestine?

A still from the movie Jenin Jenin

Academics and serious amateurs are aware of my predilection for all things Israel/Palestine.

I’ve certainly had my fill of combating the forces of right-wing idiocy in all manner of Jewish community. My desire is to keep evolving in my thinking and not just be a troll.

I’m now at a synagogue that is better suited to my views and through their Israel/Palestine committee am happily undergoing a self-imposed film festival. I expect to view most of these films in the next few weeks.

·         Wrestling Jerusalem

·         Ajami

·         Omar

·         Jenin, Jenin

·         The Bubble (HaBuah)

·         In Between (Bar Behar)

·         The Gatekeepers

·         Bridge Over the Wadi

·         Tel Aviv on Fire

·         Junction 48

·         My Dearest Enemy

·         Budrus 

·         The Band’s Visit

The question I’m asking myself is if someone isn’t knowledgeable about Israel/Palestine, what is the best film to spark interest?

I remember several years ago hearing a leader of B’Tselem (a human rights organization that documents Israeli abuses) give a presentation. She was asked how Israelis respond when confronted with a video that shows soldiers shooting civilians or something equally horrible.

She said they are stunned, then go into a state of denial – “that isn’t us.” Then they tell themselves that the moment on film was an aberration, an extraordinary event that doesn’t represent the majority of situations. Soon they forget they ever saw such a thing.

I have had a similar reaction to showing films in Jewish community that document IDF soldiers doing bad things. The right-wingers don’t really engage with the material, just ask how/when they get to show the film that represents their values.

My current thinking is that dramas and comedies might be more effective in bringing people to this subject than the documentary.  

I’m looking forward to discussing these ideas with the other members of the committee, many who are further left than myself—a first!