My Land Zion 2004
Distributed by Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Produced by Yulie Cohen Gerstel
Directed by Directed by Yulie Cohen Gerstel
VHS, color, 88 min.
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers
Date Entered: 06/22/2006
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Lisa Flanzraich, Queens College, Flushing, New York
Yulie Cohen Gerstel explores both the personal and political issues concerning the Jewish Palestinian conflict in My Land Zion. Ms. Gerstel, a Sabra, (native born Israeli) questions the status quo, which places Israelis and, Palestinians in constant bitter conflict with one and other. She expresses her concerns over her daughters’ conscriptions into the Army, the displacement of 800,000 Palestinians since the establishment of Israel, and the appropriation of previously held Arab territories in the Gaza Strip and West Bank where over 240,000 Israelis have settled.
Ms. Gerstel’s point of view is clear: Israelis and Palestinians must learn to live in harmony: there is simply no other choice. She is sympathetic to the diaspora of of the Palestinian people. Ironically, this parallels the history of the Jews, who did not have a recognized nation until the mid-twentieth century. Moreover, she is disconcerted that Israelis, in general, do not grasp the signifigance of Palestinian homelessness. In one segment, we visit an abandoned Palestinian home in a village, which was once composed of 2728 residents. Israelis now picnic on this site.Then, we journey to Hungary where Gerstel’s colleague, Moti Golani, Professor, Land of Israel Studies Department, Haifa University, visits the house that he grew up in during World War II. The current tenants refuse to let him into the house.
Although the enormity and weight of the Holocaust caused the Jews to forcefully claim Israel as their homeland after Nazism, the shoah has also contributed to the displacement of the indigenous peoples who have lived in Palestine for thousands of years.
The filmmaker and her colleague suggest that Palestinians and Israelis share more in common than they care to admit. In essence, Ms. Gerstel believes that Israelis have a responsibility to be more compassionate toward the Palestinians and treat them as they would be treated themselves. Both groups should understand each others’ points of view and reach both political and personal accords. The Zionist sensibility must be balanced with a more inclusive and democratic agenda toward redressing the grievances of the Palestinians.
This production is well-executed, compelling, and engaging. Ms. Gerstel is adept at revealing the emotions of her interviewees and drawing them into the larger political context.