Israeli director Shimon Dotan comes to UNO


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Danielle Meadows

Award-winning Israeli film director Shimon Dotan visited Universty of Nebraska at Omaha last week, screening his controversial film “The Settlers.” The film covers conflict between Israel and Palestine in a way that is unique and necessary.

People from all backgrounds filled a room Thursday in CPACS to watch the film. The movie chronologically displays the historical conflict between Palestine and Israel in two hours of fascinating emotion. Primarily in Hebrew, “The Settlers” is both beautiful and tragic, showcasing two incredibly different sides that may only share one thing in common: love for the land of the West Bank.

The West Bank is located near Israel, with Jordan to the east. This area is also home to a large section of the Dead Sea’s western shore. The film mostly takes place in Israeli settlements. Most homes in these settlements are built close to each other, perched upon extraordinary hills overlooking both sandy and lush, green landscapes. The views may be beautiful but this land is notorious for one very ugly thing: violence.

Approximately 371,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank. After various wars, many settlements were established on land some would say belongs to Palestine. Despite this, Palestine never actually held sovereignty but rather “occupied territory” of the West Bank.. The Israeli citizens who have built homes on this land often face conflict with the existing Palestinian residents, leading to anger and destruction.

The international community considers these settlements to be illegal—not because the settlements are in the West Bank—but because they violate population transfer, which prohibits a state from moving into an occupied territory. Israel sees this differently as Palestine never truly held sovereignty. The situation is clearly very complex and controversial, explaining why tensions are so high in this part of the world.

Dotan mostly focuses on the lives of the settlers in this film. Their opinions are rooted heavily in religion. The extreme opinions shown in this movie are laced with racism and ideologies being pitted against each other. One particularly alarming scene in the film shows a man beaming as he talks with
his children about how much they will enjoy beating up Arabs once they grow up.

The film ended with much more to be discussed, especially in the constantly evolving state of the West Bank. The story of Palestine and Israel will end only when there is peace, which doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon. Despite this, Dotan believes this film needed to be made.

“I didn’t include the Palestinian side so much because I wanted to focus on the settlers in a way that
hasn’t been presented before,” Dotan said.

“The Settlers” received good reviews from the audience. A post-show discussion was held featuring Dotan; Bill Blizek, UNO professor of Philosophy and Religion and Rabbi Sholmo Abramovich from the Beth Israel Synagogue. Many people with Jewish and Israeli ties were in the audience.

Audience members asked important questions, picking the minds of each contrasting panel guest.

The fact that not everyone in the room shared the same opinions led to an occasionally heated discussion, which proved to be fascinating nonetheless.

Dotan always hopes for the best in his home country of Israel. Right now, he doesn’t know of any solutions that would end the chaos and bloodshed. If a resolution were to be presented, Dotan would fight hard to implement it.

“I have lived in America for many years, but my home will always be Israel,” Dotan said.