The Land of the Settlers
The Land of the Settlers is a five part documentary
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 series created by Chaim Yavin, who was described by the Arab News
Arab News
Arab News is an English-language daily newspaper published in Saudi Arabia, in the cities of Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam. The Editor-in-Chief is Khaled Al-Maeena. The publisher of Arab News is Saudi Research & Publishing Company , a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group .Arab News was...

 as "the Israeli version of America’s Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite
Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years . During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll...

". With a handheld camera, Yavin traveled throughout his homeland of Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and interviewed a range of Palestinians and Israelis in order to document the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

. Released in 2005, his series was too controversial to air on Israel's public TV station, Channel 1, despite the fact that he had helped to create the station and served as its lead anchorman. It ran instead on Channel 2, creating a stir for its sympathy towards Palestinians.


"The message of the series was," Yavin explains, "If we want peace, we have to dismantle the settlements
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...


In Part 1, Yavin travels through the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, inviting himself into the homes of both Israelis and Palestinians in order to get a highly personal look at the conflict. Both the Palestinians and Israeli settlers tell Yavin that their lives are being toyed with because of their ethnicity, without respect for the fact that they are human beings, with rooted families and established lives. Palestinians on line at a checkpoint
Israel Defense Forces checkpoint
A Israel Defense Forces checkpoint, usually called an Israeli checkpoint , is a barrier erected by the Israel Defense Forces with the stated aim of enhancing the security of Israel and Israeli settlements and preventing those who wish to do harm from crossing...

 complain to the camera that the four hour wait they’re enduring in the hot sun is common, while an Israel mother rants, “I think Jews that vote to evacuate us from our homes should come and talk to us. If they looked us in the eyes before they did, I think I’d feel differently.”

PART 2 focuses on Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

, Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

's ancient home, a holy city where the Palestinian majority is held suspect and monitored by the heavily armed Israeli Defense Force, hinting at a strange role reversal of the Jewish population since the Second World War. There, Yavin films a concrete wall where someone wrote in spraypaint, “Arabs to the crematorium.” There's hate on both sides, but Yavin's documentary asks to what extent have the oppressed become the oppressors.

Part 2 highlights the suffering of mothers on both sides of the conflict. If they haven't experienced the heartbreak of losing a child, they worry constantly about their children's safety. Yavin speaks to a weepy Palestinian woman in Hebron whose still mourning the loss of her fourteen-year-old girl. The smiling, lanky girl was shot by rioting settlers and fell off her roof. An Israeli mother shares the similarly disturbing story of watching her seven-year-old son run up to her covered in blood after having been shot by a sniper. But instead of channeling their sorrow and pain to try to change the failing system of hate, their experiences have filled them with loathing for their enemies that perpetuates the conflict. For example, an Israeli mother argues, as she bobs her baby on her lap, that the Arabs should be bombed indiscriminately to insure her children's safety.

PART 3 follows the Israeli government's construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

 surrounding the nation's major cities, creating a physical barrier between the two cultures. Israelis call it a security fence—Palestinians call it proof of a system of Israeli apartheid. This documentary begins with an interview of an Israeli woman whose husband and two sons were murdered by a suicide bomber. She tells the story from her balcony, from where she can see the restaurant in which it happened. When Yavin asks her opinion of the fence, she says her heart “curdles.” “Why wasn't it built earlier? Why did I have to pay such a dear price so that we could wise up later?”

Part 3 raises the question as to whether the fence is in fact being built for security purposes or if it has political motives. Instead of running along the green line
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

, Israel's official border, it extends into Palestinian land, which one Palestinian argues is a “robbery of land and resources.” One Israeli official, nicknamed “the father of the fence,” explains that they extended they boundary in order to make sure that guards have enough time to stop a person from crossing. The fence is likened to the Berlin wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...


Yavin, also known as Mr. Television, has been reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, but, until the release of this series, he's kept his political opinions to himself. These films were made with his hope to inspire moral change in his countrymen. “I cannot really do anything to relieve this misery other than to document it,” Yavin says, “so that neither I nor those like me will be able to say that we saw nothing, heard nothing, knew nothing.”


  • New York Times described it as “pessimistic, angry and highly personal.”

  • Lewis Roth with Americans for Peace Now
    Americans for Peace Now
    Americans for Peace Now , the United States partner of Israel’s Shalom Achshav organization, is an American coalition working to help Israel achieve a secure peace with the Arab states and the Palestinian people...

    said, “has had an impact in Israel because of what you see on the screen, but also because of who made it. Chaim Yavin has been Israel’s lead newscaster, and probably one the best-known voices and faces in the Jewish community.”

  • Tom Segev
    Tom Segev
    Tom Segev is an Israeli historian, author and journalist. He is associated with Israel's so-called New Historians, a group challenging many of the country's traditional narratives.-Early life:Segev was born in Jerusalem in 1945...

     of Ha'aretz (5/27/05) wrote, "…For two and half years, Yavin wandered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with a small hand-held camera, which he operated himself, without a technical crew. Here and there he was reviled as the representative of the hostile leftist media, but in general the settlers spoke to him on the assumption that he was their man, and justly so: Until now he was everyone's man."

  • Raanan Shaked of Yedioth Ahronoth
    Yedioth Ahronoth
    Yedioth Ahronoth is a daily newspaper published in Tel Aviv, Israel. Since the 1970s, it has been the most widely circulated paper in Israel. In a TGI survey comparing the last half of 2009 with the same period in 2008, Yedioth Ahronoth retained the title of most widely read newspaper in Israel...

    (6/1/05), wrote, "After watching The Land of the Settlers, every caring Israeli, every humane Israeli, should get up next Saturday, go to the settlement nearest to his place of residence, and drag its inhabitants, kicking and screaming, across the road to the side of sanity.

  • Assaf Schneider of Ma'ariv (6/1/05) wrote, "The documentation with the small Sony camera is an effective trick that always works…The difference is that here, it all comes together to present one unappealing idea: Disengagement has taken place long ago. Thirty years ago, to be precise, when the first settlers remained in Sebastia. Only it is a disengagement by them from Israel, from Israeliness. They let it slip now and then, when they talk contemptuously about 'those who live in Tel Aviv
    Tel Aviv
    Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

     and Haifa
    Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

    ,' when they threaten matter-of-factly to burn their ID cards, when they call anyone who is not them 'a generation of wusses,' when they fail to understand why Yavin does not want a day to come when 'Mohammed will make us all coffee.' The feeling is harsh: After all, it is true that 'we are brothers,' and the Israeli governments over the generations did indeed send them…"

External links

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