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Apr-16-2013 19:36printcomments

Changing The Conversation Around Israel/Palestine

Please visit Kickstarter and help raise finishing funds for the feature-length film “A People Without a Land”

Image from “A People Without a Land” shows Israeli soldier dragging Palestinian boy in a headlock.
Image from “A People Without a Land” shows Israeli soldier dragging Palestinian boy in a headlock.

(LOS ANGELES) - Four years ago, my wife and I began working on a documentary film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that we believe has the potential to change the way people think about Israel/Palestine.

“A People Without a Land” explores the roots of the conflict, explains why the peace process has failed, and articulates a vision for a just and practical solution.

In the war of words around Israel/Palestine, one often hears the argument that the right of Jews to live in safety and security, requires the continued existence of a Jewish state. And while the political Zionist project has been well-served by this argument for 65 years, it is as false today as it was when the State of Israel was first established.

The most obvious counterexample is the modern American Jewish community which has never been safer, more secure, or indeed more prosperous than it is today. This is not to suggest that Israeli Jews ought to pick up and move to the United States. But a fundamental rethinking of the way they see themselves and their state is absolutely necessary for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What we are trying to do with our film is reframe the discussion. We want to shift the focus away from the inadequate and failed partition plans and towards a discourse of human rights. We believe that for any political solution to work, it will have to be based on the fundamental principle of equality.

The two-state solution that has been on the table for the past few decades would at best establish a Palestinian State on 22% of historic Palestine. It is true that this solution would alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but a majority of the Palestinian people don’t live in these areas.

Most Palestinians are refugees who were displaced during the 1948 war and are prohibited from returning to their land in what became Israel. Moreover, the two-state solution does not address the second-class status of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who have long suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination under Israeli law.

For these reasons, we believe that the only real solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a one-state solution where all Israelis and Palestinians are equal citizens.

Does this mean the end of the Jewish state? That all depends on what you mean by a Jewish state. If you mean a state in which a majority of the citizens are Jews, then yes, given the current demographic balance, it would likely mean the end of a Jewish state.

If you mean a state that privileges Jews and disenfranchises Palestinians, then it would definitely mean the end of a Jewish state. But if you mean a center of Jewish culture to rival the United States where Jews would feel free to express themselves in their historic homeland alongside their Palestinian compatriots, then it wouldn’t be the end of the Jewish state at all.

In fact, it might just be the beginning of a something that Jews have not enjoyed for over a century: Safety, security, and legitimate citizenship in the land of their ancestors.

Eli Ungar-Sargon is best known for his first film, Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision. He is currently raising finishing funds for his second feature-length film “A People Without a Land” on Kickstarter.


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