Israel. Palestine. Occupied Territories. The Green Zone. Undoubtedly it is a topic that we’ve all read about, learned about, watched headline news about. But how much do we actually know? What is the correct terminology? What exactly is Palestine?
One film that attempts to answer these questions and other is Colliding Dreams, a collaboration between award-winning filmmakers Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudasvky. The documentary presents itself as an oral history, and although it can feel slightly pedantic at times, it is so dense with interviews, history, and politics, that you wonder why it wasn’t two hours longer.
Dorman and Rudavsky do a great job of covering the gamut in terms of they talked to: Israelis, Palestinians, Arab Jews, Arab Christians, those of mixed heritage. You name it, they have it covered. In the world of Jewish and Arab History, they managed to snag some pretty names including Hillel Halkin, Moshe Halbertal and Yossi Klein Halevi, among countless others.
What I found the most interesting was how similar those on both sides of the wall were. The everyday citizens of both “countries” want some form of cohesion and unity, with the top candidates being either a two-state solution, or a single state where both nationalities can live in peace.
Of course, it never is that easy. Among numerous factors taking into consideration, the one this film explores in greatest detail, is one seldom covered in today’s media: Zionism. Here we are again with a word that we know but really know. Often when a word ends with an -ism-, it is often thought that something dogmatic and nefarious is at play. While it’s true that Zionism has some dogmatic principles, it is less evil than people may think. According to the film, it is (was?) a movement to re-establish a permanent settlement or Homeland for the Jewish people and Jewish Culture, land which was later defined by founder Theodor Herzl as the land of Israel.
Those in the film are constantly debating Zionism’s legacy, whether it was worth it, and if it is still needed today. While there are no doubt, radical opinions on the subject, most of the interviewees – Jews and non-Jews alike – offer far more nuanced thoughts. And that I think is the heart of Colliding Dreams. An issue for more complex and steeped in history then the media probably realizes. Netanyahu says one thing, the PLO and Hamas will say something else and both sides seem to be somewhat ignoring what the people say and want. I, like most in the film, just want peace. And to party in Tel Aviv.