The Israeli security barrier features a sensitive and important narrative discussed wide and far in international and Israeli media circles. The National Film Board (NFB), which operates under the Department of Canadian Heritage, is currently producing a documentary film based on British playwright David Hare’s monologue “Wall” which the NFB describes as a “celebrated play exploring both sides of the Israel/Palestine separation barrier.”
The NFB’s self-described mandate is to “to produce and distribute audiovisual works that reflect Canada
to Canadians and to other nations.” How this film may adhere to the NFB’s mandate remains to be seen.
While Hare’s play was received with mixed reviews, we hope that the NFB’s adaptation will endeavour to provide a fair, accurate, and contextualized explanation of the raison d’être for the barrier’s implementation, along with featuring perspectives from Israeli authorities, experts on the barrier, and citizens affected by terror in the interests of achieving equitable balance.
HonestReporting Canada contacted NFB producers of this film to relay the need for the barrier to be properly contextualized so that viewers were able to understand that it’s a defensive measure to protect Israel’s citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, from terror attacks and not a “land grab” to “gain territory”. We also provided the NFB with a range of sources they could interview to give the Israeli perspective, along with providing authoritative primers on the barrier. We also encouraged the NFB to explore the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s chronic failure to stop terrorism and its violations of their Oslo obligations to dismantle terrorist networks and confiscate weaponry.
The security barrier, also known as the Anti-Terrorist Fence, is justified under international law and was created by Israel to protect its population from terror attacks emanating from the West Bank which took the lives of over 1,100 Isra
elis. The value of the fence in saving lives is unmistakable: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, eight Israelis were killed. In almost all cases, terrorists infiltrated Israel via the West Bank. Israel follows many countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and others too numerous to count who have exercised their sovereign right to erect a fence to protect its citizens.
Canadian society has a high regard for human life and Israel, like Canada, has the responsibility to protect its citizens. Since construction of the barrier began, the number of terrorist attacks has plummeted by more than 90%. Structurally, approximately 94% of the barrier is a chain-link fence, the remainder a concrete wall, built to prevent the sniper attacks that were frequent in selected areas. Only 5-8% of PA land and three-tenths of 1% of the Palestinian population will be on the western (“Israeli”) side of the fence when it is completed. Furthermore, Palestinians can bring grievances regarding the placement of the barrier to Israel’s Supreme Court which, in several cases, has ruled in favour of the Palestinians, causing the barrier to be re-routed.
This NFB film is slated for completion in 2014 and if the prejudicial name of the film: “Wall” is any indicator for where this film is heading, there is every reason to be apprehensive. Nevertheless, we hope that the NFB will take heed of our advice and produce a film that will live up to its self-described purpose of providing a fair and accurate exploration of “both sides of the Israel/Palestine separation barrier.”