Saturday, April 30, 2005
So. I went to see this Israeli documentary last night called "Wall", which was about the security fence that Israel is building in and around the West Bank. Before I give my rant allow me to offer a synopsis:

"This austere and cinematic doc explores what is perhaps the most controversial border since the Berlin Wall: Israel's 400-mile security fence. Amidst escalating political, environmental and cultural tensions, filmmaker Simone Bitton calls upon her dual Jewish and Arab heritage to help her straddle the cultures that are physically and symbolically severed by the massive construction project. Wall presents its namesake in severe graphic compositions that articulate an immoderate number of paradoxes: the shield of life, itself lifeless; the security buffer that presents new dangers; the protector of land that scars the countryside. Through interviews with Palestinian and Israeli locals that live along the fence's path, Bitton examines the long-term efficacy of a nation's colossal defensive gambit. Set against stunning visuals of miles and miles of concrete and barbed wire, personal commentaries provide a deeply human context for the cold and monolithic barrier now in their midst."

Let me first start by saying I really didn't like this film. The trouble perhaps lies with me and what I expected and/or hoped the film would be. What I had *hoped* it would be was a fair and balanced examination of the issues. I was hoping it would show the devastation the Israelis have experienced which is forcing them to take this drastic measure and I was hoping it would open my eyes to the suffering of the Palestinians who are losing land and crops to this separation fence. What I got was an unfair and unbalanced look at the issue.

First of all, I did not feel that the woman of Jewish and Arab heritage was as conflicted as she would have us believe. She was clearly on the side of the Palestinians. When discussing who was against the fence she took the route that would impact the audience most, understandably, and interviewed both Israelis and Palestinians who gave stories of suffering and despair. Fine, I have no problem with that, and indeed it helped me understand the plight of the innocent Palestinians (as opposed to the terrorist Palestinians).

However, when discussing who was FOR the fence she only took a factual stance and interviewed just one person (as opposed to the 10+ she interviewed for those who are against). And the person she chose to interview was a military man (Amos Yaron?) who spoke in facts but only in context of the questions the director asked. This is fine as well since it is important to understand from a military point of view why Israel is doing it. But where were the human interest interviews for this side of the debate? We were shown Israelis and Palestinians who were upset by the building of the fence and our emotions and sympathies were stirred for them, but WHERE was the emotional pull in favour of building the fence? In other words..... why did we not see one single interview with a family who lost someone to a suicide bomber? Why were we not shown the remains of a bus, blown from the inside out? Why was it not mentioned that terror attacks are down 90% from the areas surrounded by the fence? The director was too busy finding upset people who would say it wasn't working when in fact it is.

I was disappointed to see that the film was clearly slanted towards the Palestinians. For a woman who claimed to feel torn as an Arab and a Jew I didn't sense much understanding for those Jews who have lost a mother, a father, a brother, sister or even a child because of a terrorist attack perpetrated by a Palestinian. The Jews have been waiting over 55 years for peace and they are tired of waiting. Can you blame them for building a fence? Oh and by the way... it is a FENCE, not a wall. 3 - 5% of the security fence is concrete.... the rest is a chain-link type of fence. Also, as a note, fences can come down. This is not a permanent wall, this is something that can be dismantled when peace is reached (has everyone forgotten about the Berlin Wall?). Until then, I defend Israel's right to protect itself. (for more of what the fence looks like click here and scroll down. for an FAQ go here)

And don't get me wrong... I agree with a lot of what the director was trying to get across. I feel terrible for the Palestinians who cannot reach their fields because they have been cut off. I don't always agree with the route of the fence that Israel has chosen, but in the end a fence can be removed but lives cannot be brought back. However, if you wanted to try and sell the idea that it's bad to those of us who support it you need to make us feel like our side is heard too, and I don't believe it was. I may dislike the film but the director can show what she wants, that's her prerogative. If I don't like it that's my problem, I was just sad to think of what the anti-Israel people who saw it came out of it thinking..

Oh and by the way... Israel was NOT the first to build such a fence. Check this out and ask yourself.... why is it no one tried to stop any of those those fences from being built? Why were those countries not dragged to "The World Court" for defending themselves from their neighbours? Why is Israel held to such a different standard? Why indeed.