I saw “The Occupation Has No Future” tonight at the Toronto Palestinian film festival. In fact, the film was very difficult for me to watch. In part because it showed many placed I have been to, and showed them honestly, which is quite an intense thing. Also, however, it was difficult for me to watch because, while it was certainly a film about the occupation of the West Bank, it displayed almost exclusively the Israeli perspective. This does not mean it showed a Zionist perspective – I think probably every Israeli ex soldier or activist from “Anarchists against the Wall” either explicitly or implicitly identified as in some way anti-Zionist. However, anti-Zionist for an Israeli means something quite different than anti-Zionist for a Palestinian (especially on the question of the land inside the 48 borders). But this wasn’t my problem – my problem, which was really an emotional one, is that it is difficult for me to accept that the primary narratives that we hear about “the occupation” (which in Canada always always excludes the occupation of Palestine by Israel within its 48 borders), we hear about it either from Israeli activists, or from Palestinians who are very much supporting the “2 state solution”, and “human rights”, and “non violent resistance” – not just as a means but as a principle.
This is all very understandable. It’s really the only critique of Israel which a North American audience is ready to hear. But I know that it covers up so many other voices in the West Bank, and also the voices of the Palestinian refugees. There are Palestinians who call Bel’in “bullshit resistance”. I’m not saying they are right – but their perspective is basically never part of the way the Palestine conflict is presented to North American activists.
The other problem with the movie, which is connected, is that when Palestinian voices are heard – they are not heard in the same intimate way that Israeli voices can perform. This is understandable – the film was made by US Iraqi war resistors who made connections with Refusenicks and Israeli anarchists (which in this case means mostly culturally European jews). I’m sure it was much easier for them to establish relationships with former IDF soldiers, as former US soldiers themselves, and with Israeli anarchists, who share a lot in common with American activists in terms of values and tactics.
However is still really a problem for the movie, which purports to be about how the occupation sustains a militarized society. But the movie did not for one second approach the topic of how the occupation sustains Palestinian militarism. They did not even interview anyone from the PASF, or as Chomsky calls it, General Dayton’s army. This would not have been impossible to at least attempt to contact former Palestinian militants, i.e. through Combatants for Peace, and this way they could have at least heard from some Palestinian soldiers who also might feel like they have “no future” under the occupation, and who perhaps have also done things which they regret – or maybe they don’t regret because they continue to be on the losing side of this military and social conflict.
But, in general, watch the movie. Especially if you haven’t been there, and you have this idea that the IDF is a “humane” army. If you think that, that’s fine, but you are being dishonest with yourself if you do not allow your opinion of the IDF to be challenged by former IDF soldiers who disagree with you.
There are two small errors in the movie. The history is very thin – there is really no explanation of how the occupation came to be. And, this is really not acceptable for a feature film on the occupation. But that is not an error. The first error is that in the short history presentation that is given, the term “green line” is used to describe the eastern border of the Municipality of Jerusalem, which I believe Israel drew in July 1967, about one month after the invasion of the West Bank. The analysis of the drawing of the border is correct, but it is not the “green line” – as I’m sure most readers of this blog know, the Green line divides East from West Jerusalem, and the internationally recognized boundaries of Israel from the West Bank. Israel did not conquer “the West Bank and East Jerusalem” in the 67 war – it conquered the West Bank, and then proceeded to divide off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank by decree – and this border (the municipal boundary of Jerusalem), is I think recognized by no states in the world – not even the United States! There was even a UN resolution in the early 80s explicitly condemning Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, and every country in the world moved their embassies out of Jerusalem – even the United States (much to the protest of the zionist dominated congress! ha!)