Essential viewing for Middle East studies and for campuses engaged in debate about the Israel-Paelstine conflict, the film recounts a dramatic year in the lives of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, and the Israelis and Palestinians who oppose them.
 

 

"Highly Recommended" 
*** 1/2 stars

Although other documentaries have analyzed this agonized situation…few have been as scrupulously nonpartisan in trying to present clashing viewpoints…this is highly recommended.

Video Librarian
Synopsis: 

Director/producer Peter Cohn comes to the story with an outsider's unaffiliated perspective, gaining intimate access to the lives of key players on both sides. They include an LA-born Orthodox Israeli settler, a millenial Palestinian social media journalist, an unconventional settler rabbi, and the progressive mayor of a Palestinian town. Holy Land is also a story 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.

With no preaching and an unflinching focus on the realities on the ground, Holy Land is a film that challenges conventional viewpoints about the Palestine-Israel conflict.  A valuable resource for balanced discussion around such flashpoint issues as BDS, the two-state solution and the US approach to peace negotiations.

DVD includes: 80-minute and 56-minute versions of the film and interview with the film's main subjects.

Reviews

A movingly empathetic glimpse at a terrain where empathy is in perilously short supply and, surprisingly, not despairing because of its capacity to probe delicately beneath the conflicting slogans and look squarely at a slice of people caught in the West Bank's web.

Steven J. Zipperstein, Stanford University

"... this well-balanced documentary explores both sides of the conflict, providing intimate views of the controversy through conversations with Israeli settlers and activists who oppose the settlements and Palestinians whose families have been living on the lands for centuries."

Booklist

A revealing picture of the lives, views and struggles of both Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Martin Shaw, University of Roehampton; IBEI (Barcelona)
Director's Commentary: 

If you are on a college campus where there is heated debate about the Palestine-Israel conflict, you are the prime audience for this film.

I made Holy Land to engage people on ALL sides of the issue. BDS activists.  Mainstream Hillel.  And the cynical or apathetic.  It's a film that doesn't preach or condemn -- my hope is that it can offer a common point of reference for people who  are so divided, so opposed, that even sitting in the same room may seem untenable.  I suggest joining together to watch the film!

Holy Land is about  NOW, about daily struggles, and not another debate about history, a debate that to me seems endless and impossible to resolve.   I'm Jewish -- I'm not religious, but care deeply about my Jewish identity -- but I made this film with no partisan support or affiliation of any kind.  Unaffiliated doesn't mean objective -- I would never claim that I or any other filmmaker could acheive objectivity.

What I can claim is that I've remained totally independent, arrived with no agenda, and spent two years living with and befriending people in the West Bank on all sides of the issue.   I chose to depict characters who I believe to be in some way heroic -- those who have a spirit that drives them to do great things, things out of the ordinary.  Even if their acts and beliefs often clash, it's in that spirit that I choose to find hope.

So I look forward to hearing from students who challenge my nonpartisanship, my neutrality, my self-procralimed capacity to cover both side of the story.   I'm also happy to hear from anyone who thinks I succeeded in making  even-handed film about this toxically radioactive issue.
 
The film isn't about who is right and wrong.   It's about why we should give a damn.