Israeli Occupation Goes to The Oscars ~ But the Films: "THE GATEKEEPERS" & "FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS" - Carry Very Different Messages! Excellent Article by Mairav Zonszein ~ Originally Published in the Jewish Daily Forward
- Occupation Goes to The Oscars - But the Films: "THE GATEKEEPERS" & "FIVE
BROKEN CAMERAS" - Carry Very Different Messages -
By Mairav Zonszein - Originally Published in the Jewish Daily Forward -
February 24th, 2013
Both Oscar-nominated documentaries from this region are important documents
of Israeli occupation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their own
right. But if 'The Gatekeepers' wins, it will whitewash occupation by
presenting Israeli guilt in a redeeming light. If 'Five Broken Cameras'
wins, it will go beyond the message that what Israel is doing is wrong and
show the world exactly what wrong looks like - and just how ugly it is.
e-is-no-hope-for-israel/65172/> The Gatekeepers" and "
ls-education-system/63266/> Five Broken Cameras" have already succeeded in
breaking one of Israel's biggest taboos: airing out its dirty laundry on the
big screen, for the whole world to see. Now the two films are both heading
to the biggest stage of all: the Academy Awards.
If either one of the films from Israel/Palestine wins in the Best
Documentary category, it will be a symbolic achievement for all those who
believe Israeli government policies and the occupation are untenable and
want to see it held accountable for the violent cycle Israelis and
Palestinians continue to be in.
But there are salient and important differences between the films. Most
obviously, "The Gatekeepers" provides the perspective of the privileged and
powerful occupier, while "5 Broken Cameras" speaks for the powerless and
debilitated occupied. While each film exposes Israel's systematically
unethical treatment of Palestinians, if either one one is chosen by the
Academy as the winner, it will mean very different things.
"The Gatekeepers" directed by Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh, who previously
made a movie about Ariel Sharon and his decision to withdraw from Gaza in
2005, brings together six former Shin Bet agents to expose the moral and
tactical failures in the country's secret internal security infrastructure.
"5 Broken Cameras" is a documentary jointly directed by Palestinian Emad
Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi, chronicling the West Bank village Bil'in's
response to Israel's construction of the separation wall and routine Israeli
Defense Force harassment and raids.
To make the $1.5 million-film, Moreh had to gain access to some of Israel's
most elite and authoritative figures on national security. It was filmed in
a polished studio, providing the six interviewees with impeccable make-up
and lighting and includes highly sophisticated digitally recreated archive
To make the $250,000 "5 Broken Cameras" Burnat pretty much just had to get
hold of a camera and turn it on. It shows rough and at times jumbled footage
shot by Burnat with his five different cameras, all of which are an
objective testament to the damage inflicted by IDF methods over the course
of years of weekly protests in Bil'in.
While both films reflect a different piece of the harsh reality of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they exist in entirely separate political
discourses. "The Gatekeepers" takes place within Israel's national ethos,
from a conscious place of privilege and power. Palestinians are not really
present in "The Gatekeepers," except as the legitimate enemy as well as the
The six spymasters who divulge for the first time their involvement in
operations like targeted assassinations and mass arrests, do so out of a
patriotic concern for what Israel has achieved and where it is headed (and
probably political motives, as three out of the six are Israeli politicians
from centrist parties). They all insist that negotiations with Palestinians
are necessary to secure Israel as a Jewish and democratic state long term.
In the context of the right-wing shift in Israeli society and its
increasingly draconian government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
s-oscar-no/?p=all> reportedly refuses to see the film), this may seem like a
radical message. However, the argument that occupation corrupts the occupier
and that Israeli military control of Palestinians is untenable stems from a
veteran left-wing Zionist discourse in Israel.
In this sense, recognition of the film looks like the Academy's way of
commending Israelis who question and challenge immoral actions they have
taken in the name of national security. This is not as much a condemnation
of the occupation as it is a lamentation of its stain on Israeli democracy.
It in effect applauds Israeli guilt over being the occupying force.
"5 Broken Cameras" is simply a portrayal of life under occupation - a
portrait of a disenfranchised agricultural community in the West Bank
confronted with construction of a wall on their farmlands, uprooted olive
trees, and tear gas and live ammunition at their protests, which have caused
the death of several residents and hundreds of injuries.
The fact that Palestinian co-director Emad Burnat
dex.html> was detained in Los Angeles Airport en route to the Oscars on
Wednesday is a painfully ironic example of the starkly different realities
Israelis and Palestinians live in, at home and abroad.
"5 Broken Cameras" on the other hand, is a personal Palestinian story,
showing the implications of occupation and its human rights violations on
the very people suffering it. It gives voice to a narrative often neglected,
dismissed or combated - or simply ignored - in Israeli society and media.
So what message would the Academy send by picking one or other of the films?
(Several polls and articles indicate that few expect either one to take home
If "The Gatekeepers" wins, it will be like the Academy giving the film - and
by extension, Israeli society - a pat on the back for demonstrating that
some of Israel's most elite security men know how to be retrospectively
self-critical. While that may be a nod toward a more honest way of viewing
Israel, it's ultimately a cop-out since it still manages to portray Israel
in a redeeming light, and thus stops short of a sea change.
If "5 Broken Cameras" wins, it will amount to symbolic recognition by
mainstream America of the Palestinian narrative as the occupied - and defy
arguments voiced in Israel that it is nothing more than a provocative
Palestinian propaganda film. It will go beyond the message expressed in "The
Gatekeepers" that what Israel is doing is wrong and show the world what
wrong looks like - and just how ugly it is.
This post was originally published in
ixzz2Loq6Zz2q> The Forward.
est-bank-protests/66577/> Prisoner Issue and Settler Violence Drive
Escalation of West Bank Protests
By Noam Sheizaf - Published February 24, 2013
Tensions are rising after death of a Palestinian prisoner and settler
attacks. Pictured: Settlers attack Palestinians in Qusra as IDF looks on.
Can 'The Gatekeepers' Change the Way Israelis View the Occupation?
By Dahlia Scheindlin - Published February 24, 2013
a-street/66506/> PHOTOS: In Hebron, demonstrators demand reopening of
Published February 23rd, 2013
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