New Israel Fund Action Guide 2021

For over 40 years, the New Israel Fund has protected and strengthened democracy, equality, justice, pluralism, and human rights in Israel.

The films presented at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s Other Israel Film Festival, founded by visionary NIF International Board Member Carole Zabar, provide a window into the lives of Israelis and Palestinians from all walks of life and every corner of the land.

Every year, our NIF Action Guide connects the issues illuminated by the films of the Other Israel Film Festival with the work of movements, organizations, activists, and leaders on the ground that we support, and with tips on how to get involved.

To learn more about New Israel Fund and our work, please click here.

Click on the film titles below to learn more about how to take action beyond the film:

Action Guide:

Families around the world value being together, especially in times of crisis. But for millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, Israel’s separation barrier separates families, interrupts daily life, and serves as a constant reminder of the occupation. Soldiers at checkpoints exercise absolute control over Palestinians, denying them passage for any reason or for no reason at all. The wall and its checkpoints put many Palestinians in an impossible position, torn between family and the iron rule of occupation. A number of organizations have been founded to address these injustices.

HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual is an Israeli human rights organization fighting for the rights of Palestinians living under occupation, with a particular focus on freedom of movement and residency status, two central obstacles faced by Mustafa in “200 Meters”.

Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch) is a collective of Israeli women who observe and document activity at Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank. They not only hold soldiers at checkpoints accountable, but they also shine a light on the daily humiliation of occupation for Palestinians that many Israelis within the Green Line are able to ignore.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual

Machsom Watch

A Reel War: Shalaal

Dir. Karnit Mandel | Israel | 2021 | 60 min | Documentary | Hebrew/Arabic/English

History is written by the victors. But is it also archived by them? While researching footage for a documentary, an Israeli archive researcher comes across a box of tapes titled “Loot.”  

Shalaal is a story of a lost Palestinian film archive seized by the Israeli military. Using never-before-seen footage, the film delves into historical events captured in the footage through the POV of eyewitness accounts on both sides.

A bald man in a grey suit jacket turns around in his chair looking away from a projected image on a wall of a man covered in bandages in a bed.

Action Guide:

How do you form a national historical memory when all evidence of it is locked away by Israel? This is a dilemma Palestinians have faced for over 70 years. Researchers, storytellers, and activists have pushed back on the erasure of Palestinian narratives by digging deep into archives, continuing oral traditions, and disseminating stories.

The Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research is an NIF grantee that focuses on using the archives to deconstruct and shift dominant narratives. They also partner with human rights activists and other organizations to support their work through archival material.

Sikkuy’s Media Project is an NIF-funded program that aims to increase Palestinian Israeli voices in Israeli media, especially on topics unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By increasing Palestinian representation in the media, the project seeks to make Palestinian narratives integral to the Israeli national conversation.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

Akevot

Sikkuy

Ahed’s Knee

Dir. Nadav Lapid |109 |min | Israel | 2021 | Drama/Comedy |Hebrew

Y, a celebrated Israeli filmmaker, arrives in a remote desert village to present a film at a local library and ends up battling against the loss of freedom in his country and the fear of losing his mother.

A man wearing a black leather jacket, sunglasses, and large over-ear headphones stands in the desert.

Action Guide:

Artists rely on the freedom to express themselves without restriction. Over the last several years, artists in Israel — Palestinian and Jewish alike — have faced stepped-up and coordinated attempts at silencing their work, especially around topics like the occupation and Israel’s founding. Artists, journalists, and activists in Israel often face these kinds of obstructions to their work, which is why it is critical to stop the silencing before it’s too late.

The Seventh Eye – Independent, Investigative, and Free Journalism is an Israeli magazine focused on the issues of freedom of expression, censorship, and media ethics. Since the 1990s, it has served as an important watchdog, calling out efforts to censor freedom of expression in Israel.

In 2012, NIF established a legal defense fund for Israeli organizations and individuals subject to SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) lawsuits that aim to silence and intimidate those who fight for progressive values in Israel by burdening them with the overwhelming cost of a protracted legal battle.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

The Seventh Eye

NIF’s SLAPP Legal Defense Fund

And I Was There

Dir. Eran Paz |65 min | Israel | 2020 | Documentary | Hebrew

As a young soldier, director Eran Paz documented himself and the members of his unit taking over Palestinian homes in the West Bank and locking families in rooms in order to maintain military control. Eighteen years later, he decides to confront his past and his personal responsibility within systems of power.

A male soldier wearing his gear and a helmet films himself with a camcorder in a mirror.

Action Guide:

We all want our homes to be a safe space, an oasis from whatever else is happening in the world. But for Palestinians, the violence of the occupation all-too-often extends into their homes. Until public pressure by NIF grantees Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel forced Israel to stop the practice, Israeli soldiers routinely invaded Palestinian homes in the West Bank in the middle of the night to gather information about the homes and their inhabitants. Like Eran, many of the soldiers who took part in these missions are now coming to terms with their actions.

Breaking the Silence is an NIF grantee made up of IDF veterans whose mission is to bring the daily reality of life under occupation — which includes home invasions — to the Israeli public and to advocate for its end. The organization collects testimonies from soldiers that illuminate the violent and corrupting nature of the occupation.

Combatants for Peace is an organization of former Palestinian and Israeli combatants who have laid down their arms and now advocate for an end to the occupation and long-term peace grounded in strategic nonviolence.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

Breaking the Silence

Combatants for Peace

Blue Box

Dir. Michal Weits | 82 |min | Israel | 2021 | Documentary |Hebrew

A filmmaker explores her family’s impact on the Israel-Palestine conflict, particularly through the Jewish National Fund’s Blue Box campaign. The Jewish National Fund’s Blue Boxes were part of a successful fundraising campaign to support the purchase of land in Palestine. Joseph Weitz, the filmmaker’s grandfather, was the man who orchestrated the acquisition and expropriation of Palestinian lands. Weitz’s private diaries reveal an uncomfortable truth.

Presented in collaboration with DOCNYC.

A woman sits in a shaded archway looking out over a valley

Action Guide:

Few objects hold as much weight in the Jewish diasporic psyche as the ubiquitous Jewish National Fund Blue Box. While many know these boxes and associate the JNF with tree planting, there is a dark and lesser-known side to this history that this film reveals. Today, a number of organizations are fighting to prevent continued dispossession and unequal allocation of resources.

Rabbis for Human Rights is an NIF grantee fighting for justice grounded in the Jewish tradition. Among their many campaigns, Rabbis for Human Rights works with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to plant olive trees and protect them from attacks from settlers who would rather expel the Palestinians and take their land.

Emek Shaveh is an NIF grantee that works to protect cultural heritage rights for all Palestinians and Israelis. The organization fights against the politicization  of archaeology to dispossess Palestinian land, a tactic commonly employed by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Arab Center for Alternative Planning is an organization that works on behalf of Palestinian citizens of Israel to advocate for equitable practices aroundgovernmental planning for land, housing, and development. The center engages in public education, conducts research, and serves as a watchdog.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

Rabbis for Human Rights

Emek Shaveh

The Arab Center for Alternative Planning

Let It Be Morning

Dir. Eran Kolirin | 101 |min | Israel, France | 2021 | Drama

Sami lives in Jerusalem with his wife and child. An invitation to his brother’s wedding forces him to return to the Arab village where he grew up. After the wedding, with no warning or explanation, the village is put under a military lockdown by Israeli soldiers and cut off from the outside world. Chaos rises overnight amongst those stuck within the walls.

A bride and groom stand in front of a crowd of people

Action Guide:

Weddings are meant to be times of unbridled joy. But for Palestinians, even weddings – an everyday occurrence that many of us take for granted – can reflect the harsh reality Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line live. NIF grantees work on both sides of the Green Line to end the IDF’s practice of enforcing “closed military zones” around Palestinian towns and villages.

Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel works to protect Palestinian citizens of Israel’s fundamental rights, including freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination, through impact litigation and advocacy. Adalah also litigates on behalf of Palestinians living under occupation when Israel violates their rights.

B’Tselem – The Israeli Information for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories is one of the primary Israeli organizations working to end the occupation. B’Tselem documents and publicizes evidence of the violations of Palestinians’ rights in the West Bank, including the Israeli military’s restriction of Palestinian freedom of movement.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

Adalah

B’Tselem

Skies Above Hebron

Dir. Paul King, Esther Hertog | 55 min | Netherlands | 2020 | Documentary

Filmed over the course of five years, the lives of three Palestinian boys, Amer (16), Anas (12) and Marwaan (16) are documented as they growing up in the ancient city center of the West Bank city Hebron. Hebron is the only major Palestinian city with a growing Jewish

settlement built in its heart. Here 800 settlers live amongst Israeli soldiers who ‘protect’ them from 200.000 Palestinians.

Two young boys stand against a stone wall, holding a rope.

Action Guide:

Palestinian children growing up in the old city of Hebron only know one reality – one in which hundreds of Israeli settlers have taken over their city, guarded by Israeli soldiers. The settlers and soldiers terrorize Palestinians, watching and controlling their every move. Skies Above Hebron asks: what kind of childhood is possible in this environment?

B’tselem – The Israeli Information for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories works to document the human rights abuses the film’s protagonists experience, and end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as well as the daily violence of the occupation. B’Tselem has exposed the extreme control Israeli settlers and soldiers have over Palestinians living in the center of Hebron and the havoc it has wreaked on their lives.

Breaking the Silence is an NIF grantee made up of IDF veterans whose mission is to bring the daily reality of life under occupation to the Israeli public and to advocate for its end, through testimonies collected from former soldiers. Breaking the Silence veterans’ testimony on Hebron and tours of the old city have drawn worldwide attention, highlighting the violent nature of Israel’s occupation of the city.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

B’Tselem

Breaking the Silence

The First 54 Years: An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation

Dir. Avi Mograbi | 110 min | France, Finland, israel, Germany | 2021 | Documentary

Through the testimonies of the soldiers who implemented the 54-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, director Avi Mograbi provides a “Manual for Military Occupation” with insights on how a colonialist occupation works and the logic at work behind those practices.

A man with a beard sits and holds a book up to the camera.

Action Guide:

Breaking the Silence is an NIF grantee made up of IDF veterans whose mission is to bring the daily reality of life under occupation to the Israeli public and to advocate for its end, through testimonies collected from former soldiers. The testimonies reveal the inherent violence of the occupation and the corrupting effect it has on Israeli society.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

Breaking the Silence

What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace

Dir. Ran Tal | 85 min | Israel | 2020 | Documentary |Hebrew

Can a leader succeed in influencing the world? 78-year-old Ehud Barak is a controversial former prime minister, decorated and criticized commander on the battlefield, and one of the leading figures of the Zionist movement. He is also the initiator of Israel’s assassination plan of Yasser Arafat. Ehud Barak observes with disillusioned clarity his own history and the history of the State of Israel.

Ehud Barak stands in front of a blue background talking on a cell phone.

Action Guide:

With peace seemingly further out of reach than ever, activists and organizations supported by the New Israel Fund are learning from the past and developing the next generation of leaders who will fight for peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians.

IDEA – Center for Liberal Democracy’s Nativ program trains the next generation of Israeli leaders in government and in the public sector. The NIF-supported program aims to create Israeli leadership that will fight for a just and peaceful future.

Here Be Dragons is a new initiative funded by NIF that trains cohorts of community leaders and activists, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. The program focuses in particular on fostering collaboration among leaders and their organizations.

Alliance for Israel’s Future’s Shutafut Fellowship develops political leaders who are committed to human rights and justice for all and a strengthened civil society. It aims to undo the harm caused by a generation of antidemocratic Israeli leadership.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

IDEA – Nativ

Here Be Dragons

Alliance for Israel’s Future – Shutafut Fellowship

Nafas (TV series)

Dir. and creator: Maysaloun Hamoud | 35 min x 3 episodes |

Warda, Kayes and Salah, three Palestinian students, fled their upbringings in the conservative Arab society for the heart of Tel-Aviv. At the center of the Jewish, liberal, hipster bubble, they reinvent themselves. Vivid, wild and taboo-breaking, Nafas is a groundbreaking series, the first of its kind in Israel: a show in Arabic about Arabs, the likes of which viewers have never seen before in Maysaloun Hamoud’s (In Between) debut television project.

A woman sits between two men on a couch in a cluttered but stylish apartment. She is counting money.

Action Guide:

Palestinian citizens of Israel face discrimination and obstacles in leading their daily lives and pursuing their dreams. The liberal bubble of Tel Aviv, where Nafas takes place, is no exception. There are several NIF grantees working to promote equity in Israeli society and fight discrimination against Palestinian citizens.

Sikkuy is an NIF grantee dedicated to building solidarity and partnership between Jews and Arabs in Israel in order to create a truly shared society. They work to end the inequity in resources and opportunities available to Arabs and Jews.

The Abraham Fund Initiatives aims to realize Israel’s Declaration of Independence’s promise of equality between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Their initiatives range from greater Palestinian representation in Israeli media to ensuring that  “mixed cities” in Israel are genuinely shared by all their residents.

NIF Grantees and Partners:

Sikkuy

The Abraham Fund Initiatives