Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Is Israel Racist Against Jews?
Farming the Hills is a fresh look at a small Jewish community founded 40 years ago deep into the Judean Hills (aka West Bank of the Jordan River). This documentary looks at the Arab Israeli relations not from the viewpoint of Israeli and Palestinian Authority politicians but rather from the POV of the citizens on the ground. This is the untold story of a synagogue that was purposely built outside the barbed wire fencing of the community. At first, we thought the reason was entirely emotional in that the congregants didn't want to feel like they were peering out from the semblence of a World War II European ghetto. The ghetto was commonplace for Jewish communities that were captured and relocated to overpopulated detention centers which were usually the last stop before the death camps during World War II. Upon closer look we discovered a whole new societal dynamic playing out amongst neighbors at the crossroads of coexistence and communal survival.
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Part 1: Crossroads Between Communal Coexistence and Survival
Land, land everywhere but not a dunam to irrigate? This is the story of a game of sorts to defend land due to a one-sided archaic legal code that enables Arabs to poach land from the Israeli government and its applicability actually discriminates, against Jews. In 1967 after the Six Day War, the fledgling country of Israeli successfully defended itself from an Arab Coalition including Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The result of that war created what is referred to today as the West Bank (of the Jordan River). According to Naomi Kahn of Regavim, Section 78 Ottoman Legal Code was upheld in the Israeli Supreme Court effectively allowing Arabs to poach land from the Israeli government which has caused a movement to irrigate land in an effort to expand current Arab communities in the West Bank.
In this episode we begin our journey in Metzad, Israel located deep into the Judean Hills. Metzad was founded in 1984 at the location of a military base on the West Bank which was named Nahal Asfar named after the Jewish Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids at the time of the Greek Empire in the 2nd century BCE. The founders of this community were religious zealots in their own right moving to a place where the roads started out as dirt and are still somewhat fresh, narrow and windy. The first sixty homes were caravans that received electricity from generators. These families shared a love for the land and a deep sense of mission and purpose. They also enjoyed epic panoramas beyond imagination and plenty of fresh air and room for children to play outside.
Today, those seeds have sprouted a growing community with permitted plans for 250 new units and a waiting list for applicants. There are a number of synagogues and schools and an increased excitement looking towards the future. What caught our attention was the synagogue and farm located outside the community perimeter. The land which they are built on are officially part of the deeded area designated for the Metzad community. However, they are currently beyond the security fence perimeter. This documentary investigates what is happening on the ground from the viewpoints of members of the Jewish community and the Arab workers who help build the Jewish synagogues and houses.