Movie Review: Occupation 101

By Joan K. Widdifield, Psy.D
Movie Magazine International
OCCUPATION 101: VOICES OF A SILENCED MAJORITY is the award-winning documentary film directed by Libyan-born brothers Abdallah and Sufyan Omeish, that sets out to reveal the realities about the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the directors, American mainstream media only tell a small fraction of the story. Narrated by Alison Weir, journalist and founder of "If Americans Knew," it covers history from the late 1800's, from the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Douglas Dicks of Catholic Relief Services says: "The number one myth that Westerners have about this conflict is that Arabs and Jews have fought for thousands of years and are going to continue to fight. Weir says it wasn’t until 1920 that the first clashes between Jews and Palestinians began, as land began to be stripped away from the Palestinians. Before that, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably in Palestine. Palestine was over 90% Muslim, and it was the only place in the world where Jews flourished in a time when they were being persecuted in Europe.

The story is told through interviews with Middle East scholars, historians, peace activists, journalists, and humanitarian workers – many whom are Israeli. Palestinian families' stories illustrate how the conflict has affected individuals. The U.S. support of Israel, to the tune of $7 million per day, is a focus. The U.S. provides no financial support to Palestinians.

Israeli Human rights lawyer, Allegra Pacheco says that Palestinians don’t have civil rights under military rule because they are not citizens. Phyllis Benis from The Institute for Policy Studies defines military occupation: "…a foreign army occupies your land physically and controls your life…. This is a particular kind of occupation – military and settler occupation."

Jeff Halper, from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition says, "The bottom line in all of this is to make the Palestinians leave the country; … in a sense, it’s kind of an ethnic cleansing." He says that settlements are areas of Palestinian land that are selected; whatever is there is bulldozed and a new town is built on the hilltop. Over 4,000 Palestinian homes have been demolitioned since 2000.

Ilan Pappe, Israeli Historian from Haifa University says that there is no "congenital enmity between the Arabs and the Jews; the Jews flourished in the Arab world at a time when they were being persecuted all throughout Europe." Mainstream Jewish society believed – because that is how they were educated - that Palestine was empty … when the Jewish settlers arrived there.

OCCUPATION 101 is a passionate, heart-rending and alarming chronicle of the Palestinian legacy. Layered with complex information, the Omeish brothers have created a keenly observed, illuminating clarion call for truth in media and human rights justice.

For more information and to purchase the DVD, see: For Movie Magazine, the is Joan Widdifield.

Air date: 6/13/07
More Information:
Occupation 101
Directed by Abdallah and Sufyan Omeish; Israeli-Palestinian conflict