Ameinu Israel Israeli occupation Israeli settlements Palestinians Zionism

Ameinu forces us to confront the realities of occupation

Ameinu is showing clips from a video documentary that got a lot of attention in Israel in 2005 and deserves to get even more attention now. For two years, Haim Yavin, the venerable Israeli anchor for the government-run Channel 1 TV, roamed the territories with a simple video camera, talked to Jewish settlers, soldiers, Palestinians, Israeli peace activists and others in order to document, in heartrending detail, the moral price of the occupation. The result was a five-part series that the settler leadership tried but failed to prevent from airing three years ago.

Yavin has said he made the documentary “so that I and those like me can’t say we didn’t see it, we didn’t hear it, we didn’t know.” The rest of us also need to stop making that excuse, and face up to the realities that are vividly conveyed by Yavin and the people he interviews

The first, very brief clip on the Ameinu web site focuses on Hebron, and includes an interview with a laconic Israeli soldier who describes what it feels like when Jewish settlers casually urge him to shoot Palestinian children. Also worth reading is a call to action, which proposes an orderly withdrawal of settlers now, before it’s too late. It does so from a decidedly Zionist perspective which will make both Jewish right wingers and anti-Zionists uncomfortable, but is a message that should resonate with Ameinu’s chief, target audience: affiliated American Jews.

When the series first aired, some Israeli reviewers express much more impatience with the settlers than Ameinu does. Here was the emotional reaction from Raanan Shaked in Yedioth Ahronoth (6/1/05):

The breath becomes short, the heart is choked with anger. This is the only human response to The Land of the Settlers. No, there is actually another reasonable reaction: After watching The Land of the Settlers, every caring Israeli, every humane Israeli, should get up next Saturday, go to the settlement nearest to his place of residence, and drag its inhabitants, kicking and screaming, across the road to the side of sanity. This is what comes out of The Land of the Settlers, the personal territories journal of Chaim Yavin, who reaches an impressive professional peak here as a documentary journalist. Although it may not be new on an informative level, The Land of the Settlers will astound you, mainly by placing on the screen, over the course of many hours, the hard core of the shameful insanity of the settlers in the territories, along with the tacit approval of the Israeli governments, along with the helplessness of the army…

What makes this video even more important now is that the plight of Palestinians in the territories has gotten even worse than it was when Yavin aired it…Ameinu is also distributing the whole series at a discount.

Finally, I will extend yet another apology for the infrequency of my posts. I should be able to pay more attention to this blog within the next few weeks, after I complete the manuscript of my long-awaited, soon-to-be-classic book on America’s conventional Israel lobby and what, if anything, can be done to transform or replace it.

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