Seattle High School Students Review Holy Land

Students from a Seattle International Baccalaureate High School recently screened Holy Land. Their teacher was kind enough to forward the short reflective essays they wrote about the film:

Holy Land was a great film to watch after the Arab-Israeli Conflict unit! It provided great insight into the real situations in the West Bank. Being able to see the true and current effects, familial situations and real life conflicts that both Palestinians and Israelis are having to deal with was very eye opening. My favorite thing about this film was that it gave me a closer feeling to the unit, I feel more connected to the struggle. It also made me kind of sad because I learned about people affected on both sides and I was able to sympathize with both. This gave me a slight feeling of hopelessness because what if both sides can never work it out, even though they’re populated with good people? I really liked this unit and what The Holy Land also helped me realize was how I feel about religion. In my everyday life, religion isn’t a very prominent force but I know how important it is. Religion can be a beautiful, life altering experience. It helped develop and evolve the entire world, but what I also feel is that it might also tear the world a part. This is really upsetting because I know such incredible people who are somewhat/very religious and proud of that and also accepting of everyone else, no matter what their views are. I guess  Holy Land was eye opening because not only was it educational in the sense that it taught me about the struggle, the political and religious happenings of the West Bank, but it also gave me a lot to think about pertaining to my world views and thoughts on religion.

Holy Land provided a valuable insight into real life in the West Bank. We’ve studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in depth, and I’d like to think that I know, for the most part, whats going on and how the conflict came to be. It was the most relevant, and current (even though its been going on for almost a century) unit that we’ve studied. I genuinely feel like the study of Israel has given me a better understanding of the current events going on right now. Like how Netanyahu has just been re-elected. I could explain how the conflict came to be to someone who didn’t previously know and get them to understand it. Watching the documentary helped me understand how individuals and cultural groups are actually living in the conflict today. It’s easy to say that we understand the conflict that’s going on but after seeing how people live it shows a new level of understanding. You realize how the conflict affects the daily lives of the people living there. At times it was frustrating to watch, but it was always intriguing. It seems like the most realistic solution would be a two state system, but with Netanyahu’s re-election that won’t happen. Its sad to see that they can’t figure out a way to live in peace and coexist with one another. But it’s an extraordinarily complicated situation where there’s no way to please everything. Hopefully in the coming years a plan for peace can be implemented and the Israelis and Palestinians can live together.


This film has contributed to my learning by showing me the importance of Rabbi Froman, and the frustration of the settlements between the Israelis and Palestinians and how radical they got. Rabbi Froman has been trying to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I also remember catching that he fought in the 1967 war. The dispute between the settlements was crazy! In watching the film I don’t think this dispute is going to end anytime soon.

Holy Land was a true window for me in to the stereotypes I hear about West Bank settlers and residents. Hearing from Aron, the LA native who trains IDF recruits, was surprising, yet indicative of what I thought people like him believed. The sort of passive aggressive, “I don’t understand the policies; I guess it’s not politically correct” logic was something that took me aback, and further showed me the divide in Israeli politics. I was also surprised but unsurprised by the portrayals of Hagit and the Palestinian journalist, whose characters are vaguely familiar to me through studies of Israeli politics and culture. So really, my biggest learning came to me from Rabbi Froman and Mayor Nasri Sabarna. Froman is a different kind of peace activist, and interests me because of his unilateral approach to settlement and peace. He is a settler, so it only makes sense that he’s interested in a unified Israel, which interests me. If not, it would be (or would’ve been) interesting to ask him or his sons about this, and see how they judge their own actions against the future of the area. Nasri is a completely new character to me. I never thought that a man in such horrible conditions, under stress and pressure from a mixed up “government”, could understand and stay so true to his democratic and socialist principles. Even though he was an appointee, Nasri seemed to know more about democracy and representation than the entirety of the United States government. I hadn’t heard or seen this man in any of my previous studies of the conflict, and as such, it was a wonderful opportunity. These are the things that I learned by viewing Holy Land.