What the Film is About
Holy Land explores the issues of Israeli settlements in the West Bank: its protagonists are both Israeli settlers and the Israelis and Palestinians who oppose them. They are idealists pursuing conflicting visions of justice, heroes or villains depending on your perspective.
The subjects include an Orthodox Israeli settler, a young Palestinian journalist, an unconventional settler rabbi, the progressive mayor of a Palestinian town and an anti-settlement Israeli activist. At the center is the story of Migron, the largest Israeli “outpost,” the focus of a heated legal and political struggle during 2011-12.
As the action shifts from Palestinian villages to Israeli settlements, there are many unexpected turns: blood is shed, loved ones are lost, and homes are destroyed.
Holy Land” is also a story of families with children growing up and grandfathers facing death, of generational passage in a land of conflict and faith, and of the rhythms of life in a majestic landscape of mountains, deserts, vineyards and olive orchards.
Holy Land Primary Characters:
Nasri Sabarna is the mayor of the town of Beit Omar near Hebron – a moderate populist, a lifetime member of Fatah who is also a passionate advocate of a two-state solution. In a surprise twist, he resigns as mayor in protest against policies of the Palestinian Authority. In the end, he is swept into office in a rousing, celebratory election victory.
Mohammad Tamimi is a young journalist from Nabi Saleh, a Palestinian village near Ramallah that has been one of the major West Bank protest flashpoints in recent years. Tamimi is both a leader of Nabi Saleh’s weekly protests and founder of a set of social media networks. His cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, died in Dec., 2011 after being hit in the face with a tear gas cartridge fired by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration. Mohammad was arrested in late 2012 and spent three months in an Israeli jail.
West Bank Hamas (web only)
Hamas is the Islamist group classified as a terrorist organization by the US and almost all nations. Although Hamas characters do not appear in Holy Land, the filmmakers interviewed and filmed three members of West Bank Hamas during 2011-12. Video excerpts are on the Holy Land web site.
Rabbi Menachem Froman
Menachem Froman was an Orthodox rabbi and a founder of the settlement movement. He was one of the first residents of the settlement of Tekoa, and served as its chief rabbi. Froman achieved notoriety for his unconventional advocacy of direct contact with Hamas, the PLO and other Palestinian groups. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he devoted much of 2011-12 to preparing his son Shivi to carry on his work. He died March 4, 2013, and his funeral is the film’s final scene. To watch four extensive interviews with Rabbi Froman, please click here.
Hagit Ofran is an Israeli activist, brought up in an observant Jerusalem household. She is the chief settlement monitor for Peace Now. She was a leader in the fight against the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron – the largest and most well known of the outposts. She won an unlikely victory in Israel’s Supreme Court. Migron was evacuated in Sept. 2012.
Aron Katsof is a religious, ideological settler who lives in the outpost of Esh Kodesh with his wife and five children. Esh Kodesh has gained notoriety because several Israelis convicted of violent attacks on Palestinians come from the outpost. Katsof grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Israel at 18. In 2011-12, he built and moved into a new house, tended his new a vineyard and led Esh Kodesh’s response to conflicts with neighboring Palestinians, including both violent confrontations and an ongoing dispute about land.