Israel vs. Israel: Why some Israeli activists represent hope

By Helena WIlliams

The first ever UK screening of Swedish Director Terje Carlsson’s film ‘Israel vs. Israel’ was shown at the Frontline Club yesterday evening.

Responding to half an hour of questions from the audience, Carlsson emphasised the importance of peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians, saying that the four activists he focuses on in his 58 minute documentary – a grandmother, an ex-soldier, an anarchist and a rabbi – were key to this ideal.

“These Israeli peace activists truly represent hope,” he said.

Focussing on the aftermath of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Carlsson‘s film highlights the alleged demonisation of these Jewish activists as traitors, while exposing how the actions of the Israeli government unite them in a campaign against their country’s presence in Palestine.

As a journalist who has worked in Jerusalem for nearly a decade, he said the area was one of the most interesting he had been in due to a range of experiences he had there.

“It is easy for Europeans to meet both Palestinians and Israelis, because they are both eager to discuss the situation,” he said, but added that Western journalists working there could either find themselves protected and respected by Israeli soldiers, or specially targeted.

When asked whether the Arab Spring would affect the tense situation, he remained pessimistic, saying that the conflict would get worse before it gets better:

“The Arab Spring will be bloody and go on for a long time, but it will not stop Israelis from building settlements.

“The apathy over there is amazing. If you go and sit on the beach, and are shocked to see Apache helicopters flying over to Gaza, you will be the only one who notices.”

Although he admitted that his film has led some to accuse him of anti-Semitism, he said that the objective of the film was to educate people about the conflict and ultimately promote peace:

“This has been going for so long, and only one in four or five people actually know what is happening. This does not make me proud of the way it is being reported.

“Not taking sides can be very dangerous. I think that as a journalist, you should always take sides – you should always take the side of human rights and peace.”