The Top 10 Documentaries about the Israel-Palestine Conflict

By Tim Hjersted

No issue may be more contentious or more misunderstood than the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Hatred, fear, religion, politics, propaganda, media misinformation, and decades of cyclical violence has made understanding the roots of this conflict (not to mention finding potential solutions to it) seemingly impossible. But if we're to ever see reconciliation for the people suffering on both sides, it seems as though we all have a responsibility to try to fully understand what is happening there, why it is happening, and speak up for solutions that could offer some path to reconciliation and lasting peace.

With so much misinformation and bias in the mass media, sharing accurate information that simply corrects this misinformation is a powerful first step towards a dialog that can make a difference. These 10 documentary films, 9 of which you can watch free online, have been chosen for that aim.


10. Promises (2002)
Best Intimate Portrait of Ordinary Lives
Promises presents a powerful portrait of seven Palestinian and Israeli children who live in and around Jerusalem. As filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg, who was raised in Israel, notes, “They live no more than 20 minutes from each other, but they are each growing up in very separate worlds.”

 

Best Historical Review of Zionism

The Zionist Story, an independent film by Ronen Berelovich, is the story of ethnic cleansing, colonialism and apartheid to produce a demographically Jewish State.Ronen successfully combines archival footage with commentary from himself and others such as Ilan Pappe, Terry Boullata, Alan Hart and Jeff Halper.


Best Palestine Peace Activist Insight
Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.

 


7. Louis Theroux: The Ultra Zionists (2011)
Best Perspective on Modern Zionism
Louis Theroux spends time with a small and very committed subculture of ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. He discovers a group of people who consider it their religious and political obligation to populate some of the most sensitive and disputed areas of the West Bank, especially those with a spiritual significance dating back to the Bible.
 
 
6. Israel Vs Israel (2010) (trailer)
Best Israeli Peace Activist Insight
One grandmother, one rabbi, one anarchist and one ex-soldier – four Israelis trying to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.  The documentary Israel vs Israel is a film about Jewish peace activists who in both words and actions take a stand again 40 years of occupation and illegal settlements.


 
5. The Israeli Lobby (2007)
Best American Political Analysis
Is the pro-Israel lobby so strong, financially and politically, that the U.S. relationship with Israel is taboo and therefore unmentionable? And what happens to those who dare expose the unmentionable? In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Steve Walt (Harvard) published the controversial article 'The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy'.

 

4. Palestine Is Still The Issue (2002)
Best Big Picture Perspective
In a series of extraordinary interviews with both Palestinians and Israelis, John Pilger weaves together the issue of Palestine. He speaks to the families of suicide bombers and their victims; he sees the humiliation of Palestinians imposed on them at myriad checkpoints and with a permit system not dissimilar to apartheid South Africa's infamous pass laws.
 
 
3. Life in Occupied Palestine (2009)
Best Jewish American perspective
Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American, gives her eyewitness perspectives on average citizens living in occupied Palestine. Baltzer spent 5 months in the West Bank working with the International Women's Peace Service. Her presentation highlights how the Israeli government's policies have drastically and negatively affected normal Palestinian life, and how this perspective has been omitted from most news.

 

Provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among...

 

1. With God on Our Side (2010)
Best introduction, American Religious Perspective and Hope for Reconciliation

With God On Our Side takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God’s chosen people, they have a divine right to the land of Israel. Aspects of this belief system lead some Christians in the West to give uncritical support to Israeli.

 

 

IN SELECTING THESE TOP 10 I have no doubt had to leave out many excellent films, as there are dozens on the subject to choose from. What films do you think should also be included and why? Please share your suggestions below and I will catalog them at the bottom of the article.

So far mentioned and suggested by our community:

Disturbing, powerful and emotionally devastating, Tears of Gaza is less a conventional documentary than a record–presented with minimal gloss – of the 2008 to 2009 bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military. Photographed by several Palestinian cameramen both during and after the offensive, this powerful film by director Vibeke Løkkeberg focuses on the impact of the attacks on the...

 

An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil'in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later given to Israeli...
 
 
In the Spring of 2003, filmmaker James Miller and reporter Saira Shah, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning duo behind the Afghanistan documentaries UNHOLY WAR and BENEATH THE VEIL, traveled to the Gaza Strip to look inside the lives of children growing up in a war-torn world of unremitting violence, death, and racial and religious hatred.

 

A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict, "Occupation 101" presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

 

What else?

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