Top 5 Videos on Israel-Palestine

This documentary and video material has been selected to help you get to grips with this particular conflict. Some of the videos I’ve been directed to by my wonderful I-P course tutor, and some of them I’ve found myself. Where possible, I’ve embedded the videos into this article.

1. For getting a good overview: The Promised Land? (Al Jazeera English)

This three-part series offers an excellent overview of the history right from the roots of modern Zionism in the later 1800s, right through to the present day efforts for peace. Overall, it’s relatively balanced and dispels a lot of the myths (like the idea that Palestine was a barren land when the Jewish people started to settle there), and helps the viewer understand how this conflict developed into what it is today.  Each of the three programmes is split into two parts, each lasting about 10mins. Here’s part one of the Pioneers episode.

 

2. For hearing both sides of the story: The Doha Debates

Take a standard debating format, add in some provocative statements about the Middle East and then put the studio in Qatar, complete with controversial speakers and an astute audience, and bam! You have yourself the Doha Debates. Sponsored by BBC World News, here are a couple you might find particularly interesting:

3. For seeing how many Israelis and Palestinians are moderates who want peace

OneVoice is a campaign which aims to bring together the moderate masses on both sides to work together, challenge the extremists and ultimately bring an end to the conflict. Right now they have 650k people signed up in support of a peaceful two-state solution, roughly half of them Israeli and half of them Palestinian. This video features people from both sides talking about the movement, and their desire for peace.  

4. For seeing first hand how some are working together to fight for peace

A low-key ‘fly on the wall’ clip showing how Israeli activists are working to support the Palestinians in resisting settlers. It comes from that great blog Global Voices and their recent interview with peace activist Ibn Erza.

 

5. For understanding how debate on Israel is stifled in the USA

This is a montage of interviews with Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, whose article on the Israel lobby questioning whether support for Israel was in the US national interest caused significant controversy in America back in 2006, leaving them open to charges of anti-semitism and un-americanism. What I love about it is how nervous the interviewers are; they sort of know it’s their responsibility to be balanced and objective, but can’t bring themselves to challenge the status quo, and insist on asking questions like ‘do you consider yourself to be a patriot?’

More?

If you know of any other videos that provide an insight into this conflict, be sure to comment on this article and let us all know about them.

Try Talking About Israel-Palestine

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that only a fool would choose this most intractable and polarising of conflicts for their first blog entry. But bear with me here. I’m not going to launch into lots of analysis on the viability of a two state solution. I wouldn’t know where to start. And that’s the point.

Given that this conflict is at the centre, or at least near the inner edge of most foreign policy decisions across the world, the general level of understanding about what the hell is going on over there is pretty poor. It’s not something we like to talk about. It’s like Fightclub. The first rule of Fightclub is…you do not talk about Fightclub. And why don’t you talk about Fightclub? Because, if you do, you get in trouble. It’ll be bad. Presumably even worse than actually going to Fightclub.

You don’t talk about Israel-Palestine. If you build up the courage to make a point or express a view that might be perceived as pro-Palestinian,  you’re an anti-semitic lefty with no sympathy for the Holocaust. Stick up for the Israelis, and you’re both racist and inhumane, with no empathy for an oppressed people. No one wants to be on either side of that coin.  Best keep your mouth shut, your head down and just watch as the violence gets even more bloody.

There is a culture of fear about talking about what’s happening in that small quarter of the Middle East that has made its discussion virtually taboo. And as a result, unlike Afghanistan or even Iraq, this taboo has meant that all too often the whole issue falls right off the popular consciousness. Where are all the films about Israel and Palastine? Not the cool hip indie films or edgy cartoons; I mean the big films, the blockbusters, the Blood Diamond or Slumdog Millionaire of the Middle East? Or if not films, maybe books? Not high-brow academic histories or intellectual policy hardbacks; I’m talking the Kite Runner of Ramallah; the Book Seller of Jerusalem? You can hear the producers and publishers squirming in their seats as they say, quietly, ‘don’t go there.’

I’ve had enough of this complicit silence. Bad things are happening over there, things which are hurting people. Myth and misinformation spread like wildfire, ramping up the anger and the hatred while moving the region futher away from any kind of peaceful, just and secure solution.

Clearly we can’t solve the conflict overnight. But what we can do is learn more about it; the facts, beliefs and people involved; so we can actually discuss it in an informed manner. I’m the first to admit that my current level of knowledge is pretty close to zero. Which in itself is crazy – I studied International Relations for God’s sake! Where was this on the syllabus?! So, it looks like I’ll have to start from scratch. I’m doing a course and everything. So, this is my quest. I’ll keep you posted on what I find…