By Sara Qamar, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Royal Oak–May 22–To many in the public domain, to be pro-Palestine is to be anti-Israel, ergo anti-Semitic, but this statement was challenged at the showing of The Fence, the last installment in the Michigan Coalition for Human Rightsâ€™ (MCHR) spring 2007 film series.
Held in the basement of St. Johnâ€™s Episcopal Church, mostly MCHR and Michigan Peace Team members were in attendance.
About half of them had traveled to the Middle East and had witnessed first-hand both Israel and Palestine. Having themselves been through the hassle of the checkpoints in crossing the border, most were pro-Palestine, but also pro-Israel in their views.
Alexander Trudeauâ€™s The Fence takes a sobering look at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from both sides. The film follows different families living on each side of the Jenin-Afula Israeli-built security barrier. Initially, Israel claimed that the barrier was assembled to protect citizens on the West Bank, who had been targeted repeatedly by suicide bombers. But the International Court of Justice and the United Nations both agree that the fence interferes on Palestinian territory. And with a one-sided border, patrolled by Israeli soldiers, many Palestinians regard the fence as a prison wall built to keep them locked in.
As the film trails every-day people in their ordinary lives, it tries to make us understand why these two groups of people with different religions are on opposing sides. The Israelis are seeking comfort and security, whilst the Palestinians search for freedoms and rights. And we see that the Israelis in the film live in relative peace and prosperity, all the while trying to forget their neighbors on the other side–most of whom live in instability and poverty. Having contact only with the soldiers of Israel, it appears that the Palestinians see all Israelis as monsters.
Travel is especially hard for people who want to cross the barrier. Checkpoints had made a short trip from Genin to Nasareth from thirty kilometers to three hundred. The documentary argues that the fence cuts off interaction and communication between the two groups, which is harmful for prospects of peace. At one point Trudeau states that it is a â€œsymbol of the ultimate failure of all goodwill.â€
However, not all interaction is cut off from the other side. Towards the end of the film, we see the Jewish produce food company owners honoring their Arab employee with â€œmost valuable worker.â€ This scene highlights more than ever, that this war is less about religion and more about politics. If warranted from both sides, peace could be a legitimate goal for the future.