Two Israeli Documentaries Nominated for 2013 Oscar

The two nominated documentaries are 5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers.

I watched 5 Broken Cameras today. It’s a documentary filmed by a Palestinian living in the village of Bilin which is close to Modi’in Illit. It was produced together with Israeli producer Guy Davidi.

Definitely an interesting documentary. As a citizen of Israel, it gives you some insight into the lives of some of the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria and what they think about Israel.

The documentary only shows a small part of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It doesn’t show the more violent Palestinians such as Hamas and other terrorist organizations, but it does show you many Palestinians would have grown up and why they would go on to join terrorist organizations such as Hamas. In the documentary you see the camera man Emad Burnat’s son ask him why he doesn’t kill the Israeli soldiers with his knife. Emad answers that he would be shot if he did.

Emad seems to be a genuinely peaceful person. I don’t think he would want to stab a soldier even if he knew he could get away with it. Many of his fellow Palestinians are also fairly peaceful in their protests and I would also add, that despite the many years of clashes between the Palestinian protesters and the soldiers, the clashes are relatively peaceful. People are shot over the years, injured and killed. The clashes are often violent, but it is mostly on the level of people being arrested and pushing each other around.

What did stand out for me when I watched the documentary was that Israel is never defended. The Palestinians don’t seem to understand why the barrier was put up by Israel. I understand that the barrier is there to stop terrorists entering Israel, but Emad and his friends don’t. Since the barrier has been put up, the number of terrorist attacks in Israel has dropped dramatically. Before the barriers were put up, attacks were a fairly common occurrence. Buses were blown up left, right and center. Suicide bombings were common. Nowadays, terrorist attacks are much rarer. The main threat being rocket fire from Gaza. The barrier has prevented many potential suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.

The barrier isn’t there to stop Emad’s son going to the beach. It’s there to save lives and it does that. Sometimes at the expense of others.

Apart from protests against the security fence, the other major complaint of the Palestinians is that Israel stole their land. They protest the building of new apartment blocks in Modi’in Illit. They believe this land to be theirs and Israeli building frustrates them. I can understand this frustration and it’s complicated topic with a long history.

Overall, I thought the documentary was interesting and important for me to watch. I’ll admit I’m slightly surprised it was nominated for an Oscar. I do think the documentary was very one-sided and made no attempt to explain the other side.

The second Israeli documentary up for an Oscar award, The Gatekeepers (or Shomrei Hasaf in Hebrew), I have not yet seen. It is about six Shin Bet (Israeli intelligence) heads. Perhaps this gives a bit of Israel’s side of the story in the Israel-Palestine conflict.


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