In 1978, Danny Vilensky was a soldier in the Israeli army. At that time he received orders to evict a homeowner of his property in the occupied territories. Then the old man, a wrinkled Palestinian, rides his donkey and slowly walks away: “To this day, although 40 years have passed, the image is still burnt in my memory. I still see the donkey climbing the slope and slowly disappearing.”
The two-part documentary “Israel as an Occupying Power – Soldiers Say” begins with this sad, even shocking story. More than thirty veterans of the Israel Liberation Army have their say. Since the Six-Day War of 1967, which ended with the occupation of the Gaza Strip, among other things, they have been doing their duty at checkpoints and fighting Palestinian terrorists.
Self-critical descriptions of these veterans sometimes seem like confessions. These soldiers need to get something out of their chests. Some of them talk about setting up random roadblocks, shooting children with live ammunition and hitting old women with a stick.
[„Israel als Besatzungsmacht – Soldaten erzählen“, in der Arte-Mediathek]
The film documents what appears to be a daily routine of torture. For example, when suspected Palestinians have to sit for hours in the scorching sun. Repressive archival films documenting night-time home searches of Palestinian families illustrate these descriptions.
These military attacks were compiled and commented on by the same director, Avi Maghribi is an Israeli documentary filmmaker who regularly attends well-known international festivals. Referring to a fictional “Pamphlet on Military Occupation,” Mograbi ironically explains the Machiavellian mechanisms of oppression employed by the Israeli armed forces.
Some press deficiencies
These speeches, conducted in evocative French academic language, take some time to get used to. But particularly striking is the journalistic impotence. Moroccan largely ignores the background to the conflict in the Middle East. What was not mentioned was that 22 years after the Holocaust, Israeli Jews once again faced an existential threat when Egyptian head of state Gamal Abdel Nasser declared that he would “push all Jews into the sea.”
After the victory in the pre-emptive strike of 1967, a complex situation arose out of necessity, which continues to influence geopolitics to this day. day by day.
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The film deals only vaguely with these complex connections. It is limited to criticism – justified in some cases – of the IDF, as the suppression mechanism covered seems to have taken on a life of its own. Interestingly, the director does not speak to the Palestinians at all.
This one-sided view, culminating in moral self-accusation by soldiers who have their say, also has a political background. Avi Maghribi is a founding member of the NGO Breaking the Silence, which was founded in 2004.
This veterans organization documents human rights violations in the occupied territories. Due to their closeness to the anti-Semitic BDS movement, even Israelis who are critical of the government have major problems with “breaking the silence”.
A Moroccan movie worth watching, despite its provocative bias. It indirectly shows how irreconcilable the positions are and how deep the divisions are. “Israel as an occupying power – say the soldiers” hardly serves reconciliation between peoples.