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Romance and Racism in Tekoa

Regissør: Iris Zaki

A "leftist" Israeli filmmaker spends 30 days in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, trying to get behind the stereotypes. 


Filmmaker Iris Zaki is a self-proclaimed leftist from Tel Aviv, living in London. unsettling was produced as part of her PhD. at the Royal Holloway University, and premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival in Copenhagen in March. The film is described as a cross between "artistic intervention and political activism". And Zaki should be honored for the trial, but the result is disappointing.

The film opens with misleading information: "There are about 400 settlers in the West Bank, spread over around 000 settlements and 125 outposts." According to figures from the human rights organization Bt'Selem, which does include settlements in East Jerusalem, the correct figures are about 100 settlers and 600 settlements, respectively, of which 000 are officially approved by the Israeli state. In addition, there are the illegal outposts, that is, established settlements, where "idealistic" Israelis set up tents on land that is not theirs and plant the Israeli flag.

These settlements have isolated the remaining 165 Palestinian territories in the West Bank – yes, almost turned them into islands: The Israeli-shocked areas are framed by "security zones", high fences and checkpoints and linked by roads reserved for cars with Israeli signs. More than three million Palestinians in the West Bank are prevented from moving freely, even innenfor the over 700 kilometer long wall that locks them inside. The settlements violate both a number of UN conventions and international humanitarian law, and they are also controversial among Israelis.

New construction Rest Ethics

For 30 days in June and July 2016, Iris Zaki sits at a table with lace cloth in the square of Tekoa, a settlement eight miles south of Bethlehem. She has invited residents there for talks about day-to-day life and wants to "look behind the stereotypes". We hear an aggressive voice that, on Breial American, rejects her project in cash – he doesn't talk to leftists! The camera goes as the inhabitants wander in and out of the shops, talking among themselves – and totally ignoring the filmmaker who sits patiently at his table. Here's how it goes on for ten days. The images of a pending Iris are cross-cut with white curtains dancing in open windows, flies buzzing dullly over a barrel of watermelon, summer thistles and sunsets over rocky hilltops, the occasional armed Israeli soldier, the checkpoint where Palestinian workers queue to enter. for a new working day in Tekoa – and laid back new-build aesthetics, to the sound of chirps and the rustling of olive leaves.

"No one can take us Jews now that we have the Israeli army to protect us." Morija

Tekoa was established as one Nahal (government-initiated) outpost in 1975, on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Tuqu, and has since seized ever larger areas. The inhabitants are a mixture of religious Zionists and non-believing hipsters who organize "love festivals" and practice yoga. But everyone agrees that they have the right to live here, and very few like the leftists. Or "Arabs".

Life and learning

The filmmaker's ally, Matanya, is a low-key man in his late twenties who grew up on a farm in Tekoa. His family has been using Palestinian labor since he was a little boy, and Matanya expresses his dilemma related to Palestinians and their human rights: “I have principles I would like to put into practice, but they are not compatible with my way of life. . " Matanya would rather continue to live as he does.

In addition to being the only repeater at the talk table, Matanya plays the role of a mad writer for a sometimes frustrated Iris, who is worried that she won't get enough material to make a movie: Nobody wants to talk to her. Restless, she regularly travels back to her boyfriend in Tel Aviv because she "needs to have some fun".

On the tenth day, the radio says that a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by the Israeli army "without their intention". Finally, the filmmaker gets a breakthrough: Asaf, who moved to Tekoa from Tel Aviv with his wife and children seven years earlier, sits down at Zaki's table. He is not religious and considers himself leftist. The wife, on the other hand, is a believer, and Asaf explains that the family moved there because the settlement offers a "practical existence". But Asaf seems uncomfortable with the label "settler". He apologizes for not building a new house, but bought one that was already listed by someone who moved
- as if it were supposed to be soothing to his presence. Asaf agrees that there is a strange logic: "It doesn't really mean anything, after all, they are building something crazy here."

Ideological land theft

We meet six settlers in conversation with Zaki. Three of them acknowledge that the Palestinians should also have basic rights: Matanya and Asaf – and the religious Michal. With her two-week-old baby on her arm, she talks about when a Palestinian teenager stabbed her down with a knife in the second-hand shop, and about how other Palestinians had contacted her and dispelled the attack. "It was beautiful, God gave me new lessons. I do not feel hatred for the terrorist, only grief. Jews and Arabs must find a way to live together. " She also says that co-settlers accused her of hate and said things were "a shame he didn't finish the job".

There are over 600 settlers, spread over around 000 settlements.

The other three have a more aggressive attitude: They have been so-called hilltop youths, a term used about those who establish outposts without formal permission (but with unofficial applause) from the Israeli state. Their ideology is that "the Arabs rape the Holy Land" and must "get rid of the road". American-Israeli Navah describes a youthful era filled with adrenaline and romantic idealism. She quit school when she was 15 – “What about school? The Messiah is coming soon! ” – and joined a group of young people setting up tents near Hebron. The Israeli army gave them protection as they descended from the hilltop to parade through the streets, rampage Palestinian high schools or engage in violence against the "Arabs." "Woha! It was like a fucking Bruce-Willis movie! ”

Navah's girlfriend and fellow settler Moriya laughs when the filmmaker says she doesn't dare join Hebron – because she thinks it is dangerous for Israelis to go where the Palestinians are: "Nobody can take us Jews now that we have the army to protect us." Smiling, she declares herself a fascist.

On Day 19, the news story states that a family from the settlement was "shot down by Palestinian terrorists" as they drove out of Tekoa. Father in the family, Rabbi Michael Mark, was killed. The film does not say that the Israeli army executed the "terrorist" without trial 26 days later. In conclusion, Matanya concludes by the blonde doll: “We have to decide. Either we take the land properly, or we give it to someone else. "


Iris Zaki's intention with the project is certainly sincere, but the film is too one-dimensional to offer anything other than what the filmmaker wanted to see behind: the stereotypes. Zaki fails to hide the shock when she listens to the hateful Zionists, but also fails to challenge their statements with other perspectives. It all becomes a self-absorbed and blurry mix of almost nothing – understood and toothless.

unsettling is a film produced with state-run Israeli funds. If one stands behind the nonviolent means of fighting Israel's systematic apartheid and occupation – resistance through boycotts, divestments and sanctions – it also boycott Zaki's film.

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