"Occupation 101" - Essential Viewing
I always struggle to know where to point people who just want a basic background on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I have reams and reams of books, websites, articles and such I can point them to, but they're either too complex, too over-simplified, too specialized, too de-personalized, assume too much knowledge, or otherwise don't really do the "101" job of explaining things with the right balance of providing sufficient information while not overwhelming.
Well, I think I finally found a good one. An hour-and-a-half documentary, apparently around a year old, called Occupation 101. Click that link for the film's website and if you want to order DVDs (I'm going to have to order one). But somebody (for now at least) has also put it up on YouTube, broken up into 11 roughly 8 minute chunks.
It is not an attempt to split the baby between Israelis and Palestinians. It is a film that puts the facts together more or less correctly to identify what the real problems are. It has a point of view, and a basically correct one with the facts to back it up. It's got a wealth of basic key facts, interviews a good variety of Palestinian, Israeli, Arab, American, and other personalities (including at least one person I spent a bit of time with on the ground a decade ago). I have little criticisms of it here and there (they should have interviewed more Palestinian academics/politicians, they should have spent more time showing how deeply engrained racism and ethnic cleansing is in mainstream Israeli society/education/government/politics/etc., they should have spent more time focusing on the 4+ million Palestinian refugees outside of Palestine, they should have showed more of the very very large number of Israeli deliberate massacres of civilians from 1948 to the present, they should have shown how almost every terrorist tactic used in the conflict was first introduced by Zionist terrorist gangs, etc.), but overwhelmingly it's a great film that I highly recommend for both those who need a 101 starting point, and for those who know the topic better but want a single film that can put together a bunch of the key history, facts, imagery, and context. I am going to post it here, hopefully it stays up on YouTube. Either way, support these folks and order a DVD from them as well: