Eyal Press is a 2011 Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation and a contributing writer at The Nation. His book Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times will be published next February. (November 2011)
Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer
Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within by Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman
Israel and Its Army: From Cohesion to Confusion by Stuart A. Cohen
Soldiers’ Testimonies from Operation Cast Lead, Gaza 2009 by Breaking the Silence
Israel’s Religious Right and the Question of Settlements a report by the International Crisis Group
Israel’s Materialist Militarism by Yagil Levy
Americans are far more conflicted about people who reveal unpleasant secrets about the government and large corporations than the romantic image of the heroic whistleblower would have us believe.
Surprisingly little is known about the legal apparatus that has enabled and structured Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, now in its forty-fifth year. Filmed in nine days but based on years of archival research, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Law in These Parts, a new Israeli documentary now being shown at Sundance, aims to expose it. Even before the 1967 Six-Day War, the film reveals, officers in the army’s legal corps drew up guidelines for a separate system of laws that could be applied to territory under IDF control, rules they were convinced could strike a balance between order and justice. Focusing on these handful of Israeli legal officials who worked largely in the shadows, Alexandrowicz’s unsparing inquiry is targeted at Israelis and foreign observers, who trumpet the achievements of Israel’s democracy and the High Court’s willingness to restrain abuses even at the occasional expense of security.
Increasingly cynical about politics and the prospects of peace, not a few young Israelis I’ve met in recent years have told me they’ve stopped following the news.
Four days after Israeli commandos stormed a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, killing nine passengers and igniting an international firestorm, several hundred Palestinian demonstrators guided a nine-meter wooden model of the raided boat, the Mavi Marmara, on a march through the West Bank village of Bil’in. It was a symbolic reenactment of the bloody confrontation that took place at sea a few days earlier. It was also a sign that, even as the “proximity talks” promoted by the Obama administration founder, some quieter but arguably more noteworthy developments have been taking place in the West Bank.
“PRES OBAMA: SAVE ISRAEL FROM ITSELF.” So proclaimed a sign at a demonstration in late March in Sheik Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem where activists gather every Friday to protest the eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes. Barack Obama is not generally regarded as a popular figure in Israel these days, not least because of his public call for a halt to Israeli settlement activity.
Awarded the World Cinema Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Festival, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s engrossing documentary examines the military justice system created by Israel in the occupied territories after 1967.
The New America Foundation will host a screening and discussion of Reportero, a documentary about a veteran reporter and his colleagues at an independent newsweekly in Tijuana who have refused to be silenced or intimidated.