Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

WATCH: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Zone series produced by National Geographic

Just over a year ago I started filming for a web series produced by National Geographic. My goal was to highlight the conflicting narratives and the different points of view while inspiring hope. As Obama is visiting the region, I no longer believe that he or other leaders will bring an end to this conflict. It must be people who lead the leaders. However, I have found that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are indifferent and ineffective. Indifference is the greatest enemy to peace and justice. In this series, I try to understand why this conflict is still going on. I try to examine the narratives and perspectives. But most importantly I also explore the effect of interactions between the sides.

This special online 4-part video series, Conflict Zone, follows Aziz Abu Sarah, a cultural educator, a native of Jerusalem, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer who works in international conflict resolution. 

Part 1: Uneasy Coexistence
This first segment shows Israelis and Palestinians trying to lead ordinary lives, but the complications of living in a conflict zone can be extraordinary.

Part 2: Israel Defense Force
This segment features the Nabi Saleh protest from the Israeli military’s point of view.

Part 3: Palestinian Protesters
This segment features the Nabi Saleh protest from the Palestinians’ point of view.

Part 4: A Space to Talk
This segment highlights the process of creating safe places for dialogue among people who are on opposing sides of a conflict.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. Merlot

      These videos are perfect examples of what is wrong with traditional co-existence programming. Through nearly 35 minutes of footage the terms occupy and occupation are each only used once. The emphasis in on settlements, but they are completely decontextualized. The 1948 war is briefly mentioned, but 1967 is never referenced. The idea seems to be that this is a conflict of narrative and that bringing people together and increasing understanding will resolve it.

      However, this completely ignores the political and structural aspects of the conflict. The conflict is artificially reduced to an interpersonal and relational struggle based on misunderstandings and conflicting historic narratives. Through the videos, the push towards resolving the conflict becomes focused on building interpersonal understanding and co-existence. During the “best” points of the videos the political and structural injustices resulting from the ongoing occupation and structural and legal inequalities between Palestinians and Israelis living in Israel get pushed to the side or ignored. During its worst point the videos paint a picture that could be used to justify the continuation of the occupation and rejiggers the power balance.

      There is truth in the idea that Palestinians and Israelis need to come together. However, they can’t come together in forums that reflect the current imbalance of power and that ignore the reality of occupation and Palestinian dispossession. Coordination and cooperation needs to based on a shared understanding of basic human rights principles/international law and a shared commitment to resisting the ongoing occupation. This may only bring together the converted, but that is where you start. It is then the job of those who want change to talk with others in their own society. Israeli leftists need to convince other Israelis to change. Palestinians should address their own society. However, don’t push Palestinians (particularly children) to enter into discussions with Israelis if they have to convince those Israelis that they should be given basic human rights. That is an abusive relationship.

      The videos implore action, but if we are serious about action we need to move past this “he said, she said” emptiness towards actively naming and challenging injustice.

      Reply to Comment
      • OHR

        Completely agree with Merlot’s comment here.

        Reply to Comment
      • H.

        word!

        Reply to Comment
      • Palestinian

        Thats exactly the mission of Aziz,just because he is Palestinian ,dont assume he is trustworthy.He reminds me of Kamal Nawash. Their interests and ambitions come first.

        Reply to Comment
        • As I dislike race traitor arguements employed internally against Jews, I dislike them employed anywhere.

          Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            You cant compare Israelis who support the Palestinian cause with Palestinians who collaborate with the occupation (I’m not referring to Aziz) .

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            You are such a petty racist.

            p.s. there is no occupation de-jure.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            Nothing to do with race. A collaborator is a collaborator. Not that I’d call Aziz Abu Sarah one. But I don’t think he’s accomplishing anything useful here either.

            And the end of the day, if you are actually in favor of a two state solution, ‘learning to live together’ on a grassroots level is nice to have, but unnecessary. The problems are political and need to be solved on a political level.

            Rapprochement between Germany and Israel took place on a political level first. At the time many, if not most, Israelis were understandably wary of entering into diplomatic relations with West Germany, seeing as how the Holocaust was just 20 years ago at the time. Nowadays, we see young Israelis living and working in Berlin. There is little of the old mistrust remaining.

            Israelis and Palestinians fundamentally cannot interact as equals because the occupation ensures they are not equals. The occupation needs to end and a political level of equality established so that better relations on a personal level will become possible for future generations. Attempting to put the cart before the horse won’t work.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Israelis and Palestinians fundamentally cannot interact as equals because the occupation ensures they are not equals.

            Palestinian Arabs has denied Jews equality in 1919.

            They are unhappy with inequality now? Such a shame. And what exactly should we do about it?

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            What do you mean by ‘we’? You personally? See a shrink.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            We – Israelis. Isn’t it obvious?

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            I’m critical of Israel, but I won’t insult Israelis by assuming that you are representative of them. That said:

            Publicly commit to either…

            - A fully(!) sovereign Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with small, 1:1 land swaps, free of Israeli control or intrusion, and East Jerusalem as its capital. Acknowledgment of responsibility for Palestinian refugees and contribution to a solution by means of residence rights, compensation etc.

            … or…

            - Establishment of a single democratic state encompassing all of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, with equal rights for all inhabitants.

            And after acknowledging either solution, begin negotiations in earnest to get to it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Zephon

            The trespasser in no way shape or form represent the rest of us Israelis or Jews – whatsoever. He and his lot of facist totalitarians are part of the actual burden and problem plaguing our communities.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >A fully(!) sovereign Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with small, 1:1 land swaps, free of Israeli control or intrusion, and East Jerusalem as its capital. Acknowledgment of responsibility for Palestinian refugees and contribution to a solution by means of residence rights, compensation etc.

            The Two-State Solution.
            Questions:
            1 – On what legal, historic, or religious basis should Palestinians have their capital in East Jerusalem?

            2 – Who is going to control access to the Temple Mount and to the Western Wall?

            3 – 2SS = No return of refugees. What Palestinian group/leader is/are willing to forfeit it?

            4 – What part in negotiation Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others shall take?

            >Establishment of a single democratic state encompassing all of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, with equal rights for all inhabitants.

            The One-State + Right of Return Solution.
            Questions:

            1 – Who is going to pay for assimilation of 3 to 4 millions of non-skilled workers?

            2 – What mechanism would ensure that the newborn state would remain national home of Jewish people?

            >And after acknowledging either solution, begin negotiations in earnest to get to it.

            Negotiations with whom?

            Palestinian Arabs has refused to live in 1SS back in 1919. They also had refused the 2SS in 1947, 2000 and 2002.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            Again, not assuming you of all people are representative of anybody. But for Israelis which may have similar questions:

            1. It’s not Israeli territory, Israel cannot swap enough land to make up for all of East Jerusalem and it’s a rather vital link in the greater urban conglomeration which Palestinians in the area live in.

            And in any case, it’s nonsense to pretend that there is such a thing as a “united Jerusalem”. There is, as I said, a large urban conglomeration, a miniscule part of which is historical Jerusalem, which is now arbitrarily divided by walls.

            2. I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, they could turn the whole area into a parking lot. But since that would probably not go down too well with the religious folks on both sides, Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, and an international regime with US guarantees for the Muslim holy sites would probably work well enough.

            3. Most of the refugees don’t want to go to Israel anyway, most of those who do don’t want citizenship, so your precious demographic balance wouldn’t be in danger. Almost all refugees want compensation, which the international community will gladly chip in for. Beats paying for infrastructure for the Palestinians and weapons for Israel to destroy it all the time.

            4. They will take place in whatever negotiations there are, if they can somehow prove they are representatives of Palestinians. They will be expected to abide by any agreements like all other parties. That would specifically include giving up their armed wings and transferring the monopoly of armed forces in Palestine to the newly sovereign Palestinian state.

            In the end, they won’t be a problem. Hamas thrives on the lack of progress by negotiations. Once negotiations actually start yielding progress (unlikely as that is after 20 years of no progress) they will have to either get into the boat or whither away.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >1. It’s not Israeli territory

            So it is said in the 1947 Partition Plan, which Palestinian Arabs has rejected, which means that it is not “Palestinian” territory as well.

            >Israel cannot swap enough land to make up for all of East Jerusalem

            Why not? It’s not THAT big.

            >and it’s a rather vital link in the greater urban conglomeration which Palestinians in the area live in.

            It is not vital.

            >And in any case, it’s nonsense to pretend that there is such a thing as a “united Jerusalem”. There is, as I said, a large urban conglomeration, a miniscule part of which is historical Jerusalem, which is now arbitrarily divided by walls.

            A large urban conglomeration = “united Jerusalem”. As you’ve said.

            2. Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, and an international regime with US guarantees for the Muslim holy sites would probably work well enough.

            Any on what basis exactly should Jews give up control of the entire Temple Mount? Or Muslims shall receive control of it?

            >3. Most of the refugees don’t want to go to Israel anyway

            Do you have any poll data?

            >most of those who do don’t want citizenship

            Nonsense.

            >so your precious demographic balance wouldn’t be in danger.

            There is no data which indicates that.

            >Almost all refugees want compensation

            Got any poll data?

            >4. They will take place in whatever negotiations there are, if they can somehow prove they are representatives of Palestinians.

            Hamas has proved to be representative of 25%-33% of Palestinian Arabs. But Hamas does not wish to negotiate about anything remotely similar to 2SS.

            How are you intending to force them to enter negotiations, and what should be done if they don’t?

            >Once negotiations actually start yielding progress (unlikely as that is after 20 years of no progress) they will have to either get into the boat or whither away.

            20 years? More like 86 years – since 1919.

            Whither away? Hamas represents 25%-33% of Palestinian Arabs, who does not want to see any Jewish state in this area. How are you going to make them accept Israel?

            Reply to Comment
          • refugee47

            The Zionists leaders accepting the partition plan was only a tactical maneuver and not their real objective . They accepted it only because they knew Ben Gurion intended to eventually take all of the land of Palestine . As he said in 1937 ” After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state , we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine ” . The Palestinians knew the Zionists plan was to take the whole land of Palestine with or without partition

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Ben-Gurion never said any such thing.

            Various Arab leaders did however say openly that they will slaughter all the Jews and expel the rest. Moreover, they acted on it. They incited riots in which many Jews were murdered.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Ben Gurion was in is 80s when Israel was victorious in the 1967 Six-Day War. Ben Gurion made it clear that he thought Israel should keep Jerusalem undivided, but should relinquish the newly gained territories in return for peace.”

            http://judaism.about.com/od/jewishbiographies/a/bengurion.htm

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            1. No, so it is said by all the nations in the world except Israel – because the recognize the 1967 borders.
            I also can only not that you do not know how large “Jerusalem” actually is, that the urban conglomeration includes even more territory (most of the central West Bank in fact) and overall you cannot be bothered or are unable to read a map.

            Also, the obsession with this “Jerusalem” is crazy even by the very low standards of the Israeli right. Swapping away Palestinian cities near the border is fine, even vital, but all of Arab East Jerusalem, with its considerably larger population, must absolutely become Israeli. Not a single refugee can become Israeli citizens, but a quarter Million Muslims in East Jerusalem absolutely must.

            Something’s gotta be wrong with the brain of whoever cooks up these ideas.

            2. Why not? They don’t really control it now.

            3. Of course I have poll data for that. They are a bit old, but a few years ago the PSR polled Palestinian refugees on that question. As a simple Google search would have revealed to you.

            4. If they only represent a minority, as you claim, what’s the deal? Bennett and his ilk represent a minority of Israelis, so we’ll let them veto the whole thing? I don’t think so.

            Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >Through nearly 35 minutes of footage the terms occupy and occupation are each only used once.

        That is probably because there is no occupation de-jure.

        >Israeli leftists need to convince other Israelis to change.

        I would be very easily achievable as soon as Palestinians Arabs in their whole accept Israel as a Jewish state and agree to cease all and any hostilities. You see, “basic human rights” does not include a right to throw stones at speeding vehicles or a right to act as a human bomb.

        Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Do you mean to say that before these kids can play soccer or basketball together they must first burn an Israeli flag?

        Reply to Comment
        • Zephon

          You seem to be confusing Israelis and Jews for flag worshiping American rednecks and neo-cons; we don’t care about flags in fact many Jewish communities burn Israels flag daily.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Flag-burning retards does not represent entire Jewish people either.

            Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        “However, they can’t come together in forums that reflect the current imbalance of power and that ignore the reality of occupation and Palestinian dispossession.”

        The only way that the balance of power will ever be restored is if Palestinian Arabs will be willing to face their own historical mistakes that they made, acknowledge those mistakes and do something about it.

        What do I mean? They need to acknowledge that:

        1. The Jewish people have the right for self determination and to have a sovereign Jewish state in our ancestral homeland.

        2. That historically, the Palestinian Arabs started this vicious conflict by insisting only on their own rights and ignoring Jewish rights.

        3. They clearly need to renounce that mistake of theirs and drop all demands that try to undo the reality of the Jewish state. For example the right of return demand.

        Anything less than that causes Most Israelis to think that there is no alternative to the status quo because after getting what they demand from Israel, the Palestinian Arabs would pick up where they left off in 1947 and would continue to try to destroy Israel.

        Think of it this way. No other people who were at war with their adversaries who got the upper hand, ever relinquished the advantages that they gained before their adversaries renounced their original aims for starting the conflict.

        After WW2, Germany and Japan were occupied by allied forces for years. And had they not renounced Nazism and the ideals of militarism, both Germany and Japan would be occupied even today.

        Reply to Comment
    2. x palestine

      this is disgusting…it might as well be an IDF recruitment video. the first video doesn’t even mention the word occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Craig

      Considering the decades of bitter conflict comprising of multiple narratives, events, interpretations and political implications, I think these videos are a brilliant INTRODUCTION to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course Aziz/Nat Geographic is unable to encompass the whole scope of the conflict, you need to consider the target audience of the piece. I highly doubt Israelis or Palestinians need this video to remind them of the daily facts on the ground, nor do they need this video as a prompt to get into a heated debate.

      Take the video for what it is, I think Aziz did an amazing job even just putting himself in the position of the IDF, considering the fate of his late brother.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Linda Hoeschle

      Aziz; this was very powerful. Thank you for taking the risk to film and interview these precious people, but blessings be upon you for showing the truth from both sides of this conflict. It was nice to see Udi and Dauud in their own words. Great job all the way around.
      I am so honored to know you. Linda

      Reply to Comment
    5. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel