The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ongoing conflict between the two states, which have its roots in the early 20th century. This ongoing conflict is a stretched issue and is used to describe various disputes between the people of the two states from time to time, for example the disputes between the Zionist Yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine, disputes in the two states at the time of British rule. The conflict has grown to take a broader form in the recent years and has prompted foreign actions. The violence, which was a result of the conflict, has done much harm than good for the two states in the form of loss to life and property, curbing tourism in the two regions (Albrecht, 1993, pp. 76). The conflict is known to be around eight major issues. Many other smaller conflicts have risen due to these issues, which are listed below:
- The Holocaust
- Israel as a Central to the Jewish narrative
- Identity of the states
- Right of return for Palestinians
- Israeli Presence on the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem
- Bombings by Palestinians in Israel
- Perceptions of the other
The birth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took place in late 19th and early 20th centuries when there were two major nationalists’ movements i.e. among the Arabs and the Jews. Both parties were dedicated to protect their sovereignty. This led to the Palestinian nationalism in 1920, which later on led to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1947 at the time of creation of Israel and later on it has extended and included the Israeli-Arab conflict as well.
After the end of World War I, the relations between the Arab and the Zionism were fruitful (Mollov & Lavie, 2001, pp. 82). But with the defeat of the Kingdom of Syria, the Arab community rose against the Jews to protect their sovereignty. This led to the national struggle movement of the Arabs of Palestine for the establishment of their national home and thus initiating riots against the Jews in 1920. In the early 1930’s, the British intervened and forcefully suppressed the Arabs and the Jews. Then came the lights of the Holocaust, which was a catastrophic movement towards Jewish killing, they were killing in order to remove them as a race from this world (Metz, 1993, pp. 85). As a result around 6 million Jews were killed all across Europe and Germany. Jews were neither allowed to stay in Palestine nor did the British offer them any help.
With context to the Palestinian filmmakers, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict looks to be a single sided issue, as the conflict is known to have a variety of views and opinions. Thus, the Palestinian filmmakers are likely to have an inclination towards the Palestinian view of the conflict and thus would be depicted in their film and documentary work. But, considering the maturity of the Palestinian artistic talent and intellect, they may have a second perspective towards the issue and might see the conflict from other perspectives too.
Perspective of Palestinian Filmmakers
The study of perspective of the Palestinian filmmakers towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires a deep understanding of the thinking and intellect of the filmmakers. One may directly jump on the conclusion that the Palestinian filmmakers might be inclined towards the Palestinian argument and view regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian perspective says that Jews are a religious group, like other people in religious books such as Muslims, Christians et cetera, and is not a nation (Tawil-Souri, 2005, pp. 122). Hence, it cannot have an identity of its own through a nation. On the contrary, Israeli point of view says that there are no Palestinians, but only Arabs existed in some of the British mandates, some part of which today is in Israel.
Both have a similar point of view regarding each other. Palestinians think that the Israeli practices of confining Palestinians in the refugee camps, exploiting them for the occupation, food, terrorizing them, humiliating them make them similar to the Nazis and thus an evil of the 20th century (Yaqub, 2009, pp. 195). On the other hand, Israelis think that the Palestinian practices of recruiting youth as human bombs, killing innocents, spreading anti-Semitism throughout the Arab world make them similar to Nazis and thus an evil in this 20th century. Thus, both communities see each other as treacherous an inhuman.
Thus, the Palestinian filmmakers are likely to have above Palestinian view towards the conflict. But, contrary to the likelihood, the filmmakers of Palestine have tried to show an unbiased attitude in their work through their films and videos. Although, the filmmaking platform was used as a tool to take the Palestinian culture and society global and make people aware of the community practices, the struggle of Palestinians was well described in the videos. The documentation of the liberation struggle that has been done by the Palestinian filmmakers has been also well acclaimed overseas as it focused on the struggle of the Palestinians to overcome the problems and reincarnate their life by their cultural and social intellect. The only focus of the Palestinian filmmakers has never been to showcase their community as a superior over the other communities. They always focused to open themselves out to the world so that the Palestinian community can also be considered as a part of the world and not a third-world as many have quoted it in their writings. Every step towards the betterment was focused on expanding of the of audience reach. Various film festivals are organized to fulfill this motto such as San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, London Palestine Film Festivalet cetera.
Perception of other Filmmakers
The perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has many broad dimensions and varies from community to community depending upon the effect faced by them due to the conflict, or the source of information regarding the conflict. If we have a look on the Israeli filmmaking community, it tends to be sympathetic towards the Palestinian filmmaking community, which is visible from the fact that they sponsor many of the Palestinian projects. Their work has also been displayed and acclaimed in the Israeli film festival. But on the other hand, as many may expect, the attitude of the Jewish Israelis is not supportive to the work of the Palestinian filmmakers. They tend to focus the effect of conflict on their own community through their work (Tilley, 2005). Thus, there is an expected pre-occupied notion in the mind of the filmmakers, which is less observed in case of Palestinian filmmakers. For example Waltz and Bashirdisplayed creatively the effect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Sabra-Shatila massacres in 1982. Some Israeli film communities are so much in the perception of anti-Palestinians that they intentionally impose difficult political and occupation conditions in front of the filmmakers that they are not able to work properly. A very famous example of such an act was Annemarie Jacir who was blocked to enter into Israel and was forced to shoot a part of the film called Salt of This Sea. The overall perception regarding the co-operation between the Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers is that they both have a sense of equal status.
The topic of presenting the condition of Palestinians and their other concerns through Israeli cinema has always been in discussion and is condemned by the many parties. Ella Shohat, a renowned writer tried to describe the condition in Israeli cinema: East/ West and the politics of representation by discussing the Zionism, its affect on the creation of Israel and contribution of the Palestinian films. Another example in the same concern is of Raya Morag’s documentary that compared the fictional films that covered the suffering of the Israelis and the documentary films showing the suffering of the Palestinians. The comparison showed clear disconnection between the two and the raised questions on the authenticity of the fictional character of the Israeli films.
Arab filmmaking community on the other hand has been supportive to the Palestinian community and also to the filmmakers. From a long time, Palestinian themes have been well addressed in the films made in Arab countries. They have been highly supportive and empathetic to the Palestinian condition in Israel, which is visible from different works and one of them is Filming the Modern Middle East: Politics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World by Lina Khatib. There are numerous other examples of films, documentaries and novels that confirm the positive attitude of the Arab filmmakers towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, the support given to the filmmakers is visible from the examples such as Palestinian citizens living in Jordon have complete access to the programs conducted in Royal Film Commission, the Arab Institute of Art and other such institutions that are dedicated in providing trainings to actors, directors, technicians et cetera and thus promoting the film community. The scholars have also contributed significantly in this issue, which is visible from the Arabic-Language Book surveys that is a collection of the recordings done in Palestine in the last nine decades and which covers around 800 films including the work of Palestinian, Arab and non-Arab artists. The volume has short and long footage, documentaries and stories describing various tragic events that were faced by the Palestinian people. The times of British mandates, Nabka, establishment of the state of Israel and after that the still going Palestinian struggle till 2005 were captured in the Arabic-Language Book.
Perception of mainstream Entertainment Industry
Mainstream Entertainment Industry mainly includes the U.S. industry and the European industry along with the other substantial players in the industry such as Asian players like India and China and others. These regions constitute the mainstream industry run on various factors that define their perception regarding such kinds of conflicts. For instance, the U.S. film industry would maintain an attitude towards the Palestinian film industry that would justify their national attitude, if in case they have issues relating to the national security, the same would reflect in the films and other media. Americans always retain a strong support for the Israelis in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and majority population thinks that the conflict negatively impacts the U.S. interests. Thus, the entertainment industry supports the national interests and seldom or never goes against it.
Since the first motive of entertainment industry is profit making, any issue, if not hampering any national interest is fully cashed upon to generate the revenues. Filmmakers have been very fond of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to present it through the films and documentaries as it is mostly acclaimed by the viewers across the world (Zaniello, 2007). Hence, the point of view regarding the conflict seldom matters and only a good script with an interesting story matters. For example, Paradise Nowisa story about two young Palestinian men in Nablus who carry out suicide bombing in Israel against the occupation resistance forced upon by Israelis. This Palestinian movie received a mainstream distribution in the whole of the U.S. and won various international awards. Since it was a Palestinian movie, it had no involvement of any mainstream entertainment industry views regarding the conflict. As a matter of fact the target of the movie was to get the worldwide acclaim and acceptance thereby creating an opportunity to generate the revenues.
In the same manner, European entertainment industry also welcomes work of both Israeli and Palestinian writers and filmmakers and provides them with the platform to showcase their talents and thus giving a chance to earn revenues for everyone. This is done through providing various distribution channels to different parts of the world, international film festivals to given global recognition to the filmmakers and their work.
Hence, it can be truly infer that there exists different point of views regarding the same conflict, which acts as the driving force for the different entertainment businesses across the world and in Israel and Palestine. On the one hand, where the conflicting parties are determined to showcase the perception regarding their condition and negative effects suffered, other outside the effected region are focused on cashing the business opportunity that can generate the revenues and would thus support and promote the more accepted outlook, providing it going with their nation’s interests.