Welcome to the site for an undergraduate course entitled “Beyond the Walls: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Through Film.” My aim is to provide my own students a place where they can access lectures, find links to relevant readings and screenings, and read and take part in discussion threads that have to do with the history, politics, and socio-economics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of the cultures of the various groups involved — ethnic, religious, gendered, etc. — as reflected in movies. But I’m hoping that others who are interested in the subject matter — or who are perhaps considering teaching a course of this sort — might also find the site a worthwhile resource and, perhaps, even participate themselves.
In the course, we’ll be screening primarily 21st-century feature films, as well as a few documentaries, virtually all of them directed by Israelis and/or Palestinians (that and/or should signal something in advance about the complexity of identity in the region). Not only have I selected films that concertedly reflect multiple points of view, ideologically speaking; the films also reflect a range of genres — everything from the nationalist-hero epic, gangster narrative, and epistolary narrative, to drama, comedy, satire, and even animation.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis
The films will also be arranged on the basis of a loose chronological structure, such that they will additionally provide some sense of how we get from the Ottoman Empire; to the founding of Israel; through the several wars that redefined borderlines; and on to attempted peace treaties, settlements, uprisings, and the recent building of the infamous concrete wall.
As for why film would aid us in this regard, that is a relatively easy question to answer: narrative films put a human face on the issue — on any issue, really. The abstraction of history, religion, politics, et cetera, becomes animated and reflected through people — people with whom directors typically want spectators to achieve some kind of identification, whether this be through empathy, understanding, or even misunderstanding or shared frustration.
Instead of retreating from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of its being “too complicated” or “too incendiary,” let us face it head on.
Peace, Salaam, Shalom (in alphabetical order)