Thursday, April 28, 2005
Radical Jews
Well, last night I met up with fellow blogger Andrea to see another film in the Hot Docs film festival of documentaries (including a spotlight on Israeli films). We saw a film called "The Next War: Radical Zionists in the Holy Land" (aka: Israel's Next War) and WOW was it an eye opener! Here's a synopsis:

"Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Dan Setton follows up on his last film, which explored the violent world of Muslim extremists, with The Next War, an inside look at the increasing militancy of Israel's radical Zionists. This rare glimpse into the realm of extreme Jewish fundamentalists who endorse the use of violence sheds light on a frightening new phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Setton follows the arrest and trial of two Israelis charged with the attempted bombing of an Arab girls' school, and explores the convictions of a community determined to cleanse the country of its Arab inhabitants. As Israelis and Palestinians renew efforts to reach an accord, is the biggest threat to peace coming from within Jewish communities that feel "only chaos can change the situation"?"

I wanted to see it because I wanted to understand the struggle of the "settlers" of Israel who fight to live in parts of Gaza and the West Bank. I wanted to understand their view since the media has a way of vilifying them and making it sound like they are the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also, I wanted to see if what I heard was true... Jews attacking Arabs, cutting down groves of olive trees and shooting at Palestinians. I think that I have had a hard time admitting that Israel or its people could ever be in the wrong, even though deep down inside I knew it to be true.

I achieved exactly what I set out to do and then some. I began to get a glimpse into the struggle of the settlers and why they do what they do. I learned about their beliefs and what drives them to put themselves in such mortal danger. I learned about why they retaliate, and yes, why they instigate. And I saw a side of Jews that hurt me to the core. I saw openly expressed hatred for Arabs and a call for violence in order to expel them from Israel. I saw Jews lowering themselves to tactics I thought only Palestinians were capable of.... I saw them describe an attempt to set off a very large bomb in front of an Arab girls school (thank God they were stopped). My stomach turned as I listened to these Jews declare that only war will solve this "problem" known as Arabs. This was a dark side of Jews I knew existed and I didn't want to believe was true.

In the end I understood and sympathized to some degree with their cause though I can in no way condone their tactics. I understand their feelings of betrayal as the government that once encouraged and financed them to move to these places is now ejecting them from their homes. I understand it all yet I don't, if you know what I mean. All religions have fanatics who take their particular holy book and interpret it and quote it to suit their cause, and Judaism is just as guilty of that as any other religion. I didn't want to admit it, but I can't close my eyes to it anymore.

I want to point out one thing that surprised me about this film and that was the fact that the film did not demonize these people as the media does. They did not paint them as the enemy, but rather told their stories through interviews, showed that they were human and why they feel the way they do. I was fully expecting this film to attack these people and was pleasantly surprised when it did not.

And I couldn't help but think of Mulder's brother who was recently lost while serving in the army whenever I saw soldiers on the screen. And the more footage I see of Israel the more my heart aches to get back there again..

Tomorrow night I will be seeing a movie called "Wall" about, what else?, the controversial security wall that Israel is building to separate itself from the West Bank. This is another one I am very much looking forward to for I think I will be exposed to some interesting views and hopefully some facts.

But for tonight.... it's Survivor night with a pregnant Princess Blondie. I could use a night of fun since the movies (and events) this week have been pretty intense.