ABOUT THE FILM
Terje Carlsson is a freelance journalist. He has spent almost a decade covering the Middle East for the news media including Swedish Television and Radio. He had thought about making a movie about Israel peace activists. Carlsson felt their work was very important, and he was impressed with their commitment to this cause. They risk injury and even death in their work. These activists’ beliefs are shared by a minority of the Israeli population. They are condemned by those with opposing views including members of their friends and family. Terje felt it was important for their story to be told.
Terje Carlsson filmed a documentary about a 17 year old teenager, Leila, living in Hebron in 2006 and 2007. This critically acclaimed documentary “Welcome to Hebron” was released in 2008. Because of the film’s great success, Swedish TV wanted Terje to make another film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He told them about the work of Israeli peace activists and “Israel vs. Israel” born.
Carlsson began researching various Israeli peace groups. He was already familiar with Jonathan Pollack whom he met In 2003 at a very violent demonstration against the construction of the wall. He was also very familiar with Arik Ascherman and Yehuda Shaul, and admired their work. He also decided to work with Ronny Perlman because she was a woman and a holocaust survivor. Each of them has a different focus and background, yet they all oppose the military occupation in the West Bank and want more humane treatment for the Palestinians. Israel consists of Jewish people with a great variety of backgrounds and expectations. He wanted this diversity in the peace movement film where one finds middleclass women and young anarchists, religious rabbis and recent secular arrivals from New York, Kiev or Teheran to be reflected in the film.
Terje Carlsson started shooting the film in the autumn of 2008. In the beginning he worked on a daily basis filming the olive harvest, protests against the wall and the interaction at different checkpoints. Shortly thereafter in December 2008, Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. He was working around the clock in order to keep up with all the anti-war activities that were going on in Israel and in the West Bank. Carlsson essentially filmed the documentary by himself. He was a one man crew; he shot the footage and sound. He handled the research and conducted all the interviews himself. The film was shot over a 2 year period. Often times filming was very difficult and dangerous. Sometimes he was threatened by the Israeli army and/or Jewish settlers. Teargas, which is very debilitating, was often used against protestors and journalists covering the event. The threat of violence was real. In 2008, Terje was shot by soldiers. The bullet turned out to be a rubber-coated steel bullet, and luckily it did little physical damage, but it did affect him psychologically. It reminded him of the dangers that protestors must endure.
After one year of filming Carlsson almost gave up on the project. He had hundreds of thousands of hours footage, but it was overwhelming, and he didn’t yet have a story narrative for the film. Then an unlikely event provided a source of inspiration.
In August 2009, Terje was working for Swedish Radio about a story on where he revealed how the well-established Greek-Orthodox Zionist population despised the more recently arrived evangelists in the Gaza Strip. The Christian Zionists became vocal critics. They tried to label him “Pro-Palestinian” in their publications. They harassed his producers, and published misinformation all over the Internet. The smear campaign worked very well – to inspire him. He realized that he was needed to work and report on the news and events that were occurring in the Middle East. Thanks to these fanatics, Carlsson became more motivated and inspired to tell this story. He continued to join Ronny Perlman at the Qalandyia checkpoint on Sundays at 4 a.m. He continued to go to the anti-wall protests, despite the large amount of teargas Israeli soldiers always shoot. He continued to travel to Hebron and the Olive fields in the West Bank.
In late 2009, Terje Carlsson started post production work on the film. Together with co-editor, Josef Nyberg, he was able to find the correct narrative and structure for this award winning film. All the activists shown in the documentary have seen Israel vs. Israel have seen the film and like it very much. They have supported the release and attended screenings – including showings in both Jerusalem and East Jerusalem.
Mr. Terje Carlsson is a freelance journalist based for many years in Jerusalem, working mostly for Swedish National Radio and Television. Terje has during last decade produced shorter documentaries and features from ex-Yugoslavia, South Africa and different parts of the Middle East. In 2008, his first feature documentary Welcome to Hebron was released. The film won several awards at festivals all over the world, including the Med Film Festival in Marseille. TV-broadcasters from more than 10 countries all over the world bought the rights for broadcast. Israel vs Israel is his second feature documentary from the Middle East. The film will have its world premiere on SVT (Swedish National Television) in September 2010.
Yehuda Shaul is one of the founders in the organization Breaking the Silence. Shaul, completed two tours of duty while serving in the IDF Nachal unit’s 50th battalion in Hebron. He is the executive director of Breaking the Silence. Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.
Ronny Perlman is the Jerusalem coordinator for the organization Checkpoint Watch. She is a holocaust survivor and grandmother. Checkpoint Watch, established in 2001 by Israeli women peace activists, opposes the occupation and denial of the Palestinians’ right to free movement in their land. They conduct daily observations at IDF checkpoints throughout the West Bank- on paved roads and dirt tracks, along the seam zone, at Civil Administration offices and in military courts. Their observations disclose the nature of everyday reality for Palestinians. They also try to assist individual Palestinians at checkpoints.
Arik Ascherman was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and graduated from college in 1981. From then until 1983, he worked for Interns for Peace, a community work program in Israel involving Jews and Arabs. In 1989, he was ordained as a rabbi in the U.S. at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Following his ordination he worked as a rabbi and with Hillel chapters in the U.S. In Israel, he was director of Congregation Mevakshei Derech and was the part time rabbi of Kibbutz Yahel, a Reform kibbutz near Eilat. He became a citizen of Israel in 1994, where he lives with his wife, Einat Ramon, the first Israeli-born woman to be ordained as a rabbi, and their two children. In 1995, Arik Ascherman became co-director of Rabbis for Human Rights, becoming its executive director in 1998. Rabbis for Human Rights is the only organization in Israel made up of rabbis and rabbinical students from all denominations of Judaism. Founded in 1998, Rabbis for Human Rights promotes justice and human rights for Israelis, Palestinians, and foreign workers. Today it has over 100 members- ordained rabbis and rabbinical students. Rabbis for Human Rights speaks about human rights in the voice of the Jewish tradition.
Jonathan Pollack is an Israeli anarchist and graphic designer who grew up in Tel Aviv and lives in Jaffa. Pollak was a founder of the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall, which is one of the most active groups of the Israeli radical left. Anarchists Against the Wall is a direct action group that was established in 2003 in response to the construction of the wall built on Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank. The group works in cooperation with Palestinians in a joint popular struggle against the occupation. Since its formation, Anarchists Against the Wall has participated in hundreds of demonstrations and direct actions against the wall specifically, and the occupation generally, all over the West Bank.