Nov 18, 2012

The Top 10 Documentaries About the Israel / Palestine Conflict

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
The Top 10 Documentaries About the Israel / Palestine Conflict
Updated May 2024

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 from this conflict, 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 a diplomatic settlement, justice 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 toward a dialog that can make a difference. These 10 documentary films, most of which you can watch free online, have been chosen for that aim.

 

10. Best Intimate Portrait of Ordinary Lives

5 Broken Cameras
86 min · 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. 

 

9. Best Analysis of Occupation

The First 54 Years: An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation
108 min · How to succeed in an occupation for at least 54 years? Avi Mograbi, director and narrator, builds the handbook of the perfect occupier based on testimonies from Israeli soldiers and archive footage. 

 

8. Best Perspective on Ultra Zionism

Louis Theroux: The Ultra Zionists
59 min · 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...

 

7. Best Israeli Peace Activist Insight

Israel Vs Israel: A Film About Israeli Peace Activists
58 min · 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. 

 

6. Best American Political Analysis

The Israeli Lobby
50 min · 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...

 

5. Best Historical Journalism

Palestine Is Still The Issue
53 min · 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...

 

4. Best American Religious Perspective and Hope for Reconciliation

With God on Our Side
81 min · 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...

 

3. Best Mass Media Analysis (tie) ($5)

The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel's Public Relations War in the United States
85 min · Over the past few years, Israel's ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world -- except the...
Peace, Propaganda, & The Promised Land: US Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
80 min · Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land 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...

 

2. Best Impartial Overview 

The ABCs of Israel/Palestine: From “Never Again” to “There are No Uninvolved Civilians”
135 min · Elites use identity, particularly national identity, as a way of advancing their own interests, often against the interests of the populations that they pretend to represent. The Israel Palestine conflict is a stark example of this...

 

1. Best Big Picture Perspective

Gaza Fights For Freedom
84 min · This debut feature film by journalist Abby Martin began while reporting in Palestine, where she was denied entry into Gaza by the Israeli government on the accusation she was a “propagandist.” So Abby connected with a team of...

 

 


 

In selecting these, I had to leave out many good films. What films do you think should also be included and why? Please share your suggestions via our contact page and I will catalog them below. 

Here are a few more honorable mentions since I updated this feature in May 2024:
 

Best 2024 Documentaries 

Israel: Above the law?
27 min · A look into how and why international laws and principles are being applied and ignored in the Israel-Gaza conflict. 
October 7 | Al Jazeera Investigations
60 min · Hamas’s incursion into Israel on October 7 transformed the politics of the Middle East. Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) has carried out a forensic analysis of the events of that day – examining seven hours of footage from CCTV...


Best New Film ($5)

Israelism
84 min · When two young American Jews raised to unconditionally love Israel witness the brutal way Israel treats Palestinians, their lives take sharp left turns. They join a movement of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine...

 

Best Examination of Systemic Media Dehumanization of Arabs

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
51 min · This groundbreaking 2006 documentary based on Jack Shaheen's acclaimed book of the same title critically examines a long line of degrading images of Arabs in Hollywood and U.S. popular culture -- from Bedouin bandits and submissive...

 

Best Look at West Bank Settlers

The Settlers
111 min · An intimate look at life inside the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. 

 

Best Historical Review of Zionism

The Zionist Story
75 min · 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...


Best Showcase of Former Enemies Becoming Activists for Peace ($5)

Disturbing the Peace
86 min · DISTURBING THE PEACE is a story of the human potential unleashed when we stop participating in a story that no longer serves us and, with the power of our convictions, take action to create new possibilities. DISTURBING THE PEACE...

 

Best Jewish American Perspective

Life in Occupied Palestine
1 min · 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...
 

Watch for free on Kanopy.

 

Best Palestine Peace Activist Insight

Budrus: It Takes a Village to Unite the Most Divided People on Earth
60 min · Watch Budrus for free on the film's official website.

 

Community Suggestions

Seeing Through The Wall: Meeting Ourselves in Palestine and Israel
57 min · In 2016, Rabbi Dov Taylor invited a group of Americans to join him on a tour of Israel and Palestine. This 12-day excursion was not planned as a sight-seeing tour, though there were plenty of sights to see. Rather, the purpose was to...
Tears of Gaza
81 min · 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...
Promises (2002) (trailer)
3 min · 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...
Killing Gaza
96 min · In Killing Gaza, journalists Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal documented Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza.
Death in Gaza
80 min · 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...

 


For a Jewish rabbi's perspective, check out:

Israel Has Broken My Heart: I'm a Rabbi in Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

A Revised Jewish Understanding of the State of Israel

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