A Search For Solid Ground: The Intifada Through Israeli Eyes
In the eyes of the Anti-Defamation League, something had to be done. The Intifada has gone on for three and a half years, and all this time, in the view of the A.D.L., Western media’s representations of the Palestinian uprising have been “…generally simplistic, one-sided, and replete with false and misleading analogies.”
The response designed by the A.D.L., in association with Hadassah, takes the form of a 30-minute video. There are no P.L.O. spokespeople to be seen here, and the only Arab voices heard are those of the shouting or mourning protesters who populate the film’s news clips. Both the film and the accompanying study guide open with this statement of purpose: this film does not attempt to treat both sides of the conflict. Instead, the focus is entirely on what the Intifada means to the average Israeli.
From its first moment, the film is honest and disquieting (despite a few initial moments of inappropriate soundtrack). We hear the voices of soldiers who must fight in the territories; we witness the frustrations of Israeli Jews whose homes border on Arab communities. The film offers no obvious answers, but rather a much-needed presentation of the conundrum with which the average Israeli is presented.
One of the video’s particular strengths is that it is appropriate for both those with a good understanding of Israeli history as well as those who know nothing beyond what they have seen on the news. Historical context is presented where appropriate, and the film, without imposing a history lecture, succeeds in capturing something essential about Israeli society in a short time. A study guide supplied with the video, complete with more detailed history and suggested questions for discussion, is also helpful,, although slightly more guided and dogmatic than the film.
A Search for Solid Ground is a hard look at the realities of daily life in Israel, with opinions ranging from moderate right to moderate left. It is notable that, as in so many representations of Judaism and of Israel, women’s voices are scarcely heard; the film’s main spokespeople are soldiers, fathers of soldiers, male military strategists, and a man living on the border of an Arab neighborhood. In the entire film, perhaps two women are interviewed, and we have little basis for judging whether the A.D.L.’s portrayal of the “average Israeli” is applicable to Israeli women as well.
A Search for Solid Ground is exactly that. If you are looking for a resounding confirmation of one or another opinion on the Intifada, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for an honest and provocative look at what is going on in Israel, you won’t be disappointed.
To order, contact the Anti- Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, N. Y. 10017 (212)490-2525.