O! My Homeland

O! My Homeland

For another online film and guide, and information on two other films available for public screening, please click here.

In this film a clear tension arises between the three key values underlying the State of Israel. In the national anthem we sing “To be a Free People in Our Land”. And yet another People is arguing that while the we Jews are free we are not granting freedom to others, and nor is it Our Land, but theirs!

Background

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, there was a significant Arab population living in the area. During the 1948 War of Independence many Arabs fled or were expelled. By the same token, many remained, or returned. All these Arabs are citizens of the State of Israel, vote in elections, are equal before the law, and receive National Insurance. In the 1967 Six-day war, Israel conquered the Golan, East Jerusalem, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), and Gaza. The Arab residents of these areas have a different status. Those in the Golan and East Jerusalem enjoy extensive but limited rights, and those in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza are not citizens of Israel.

In creating our own State, Jews took the conscious step of moving from being an eternal minority, to being a constant majority. Running a state in which you are in the majority does not mean that the State is ethnically pure. On the contrary, being a Free People in Our Land entails taking responsibility for relations with your minorities – those who live in your territory but are not members of your People.

A little quiz…

1. How many people live in Israel?

  1. 7,373,000
  2. 6,000,000
  3. 4,670,000

2. How many of these people are Arabic-speaking non-Jews?

  1. 1,375,600
  2. 2,530,000
  3. 800,000

3. How many members of Knesset are there in total?

  1. 100
  2. 80
  3. 120

4. How many members of Knesset are Arab?

  1. 12
  2. 30
  3. None

5. Of the 12 Supreme Court Judges, how many are Arab?

  1. 0
  2. 1
  3. 2

6. Can Arabs living in Haifa vote in their local elections?

  • Yes
  • No

7. Can Arabs living in Haifa vote in the national elections?

  • Yes
  • No

8. Can Arabs living in East Jerusalem vote in their local elections?

  • Yes
  • No

9. Can Arabs living in East Jerusalem vote in the national elections?

  • Yes
  • No

10. What is the official language of Israel?

  1. Hebrew
  2. Russian
  3. Arabic
  4. Hebrew and Arabic

11. Based on their relative share in the population, how much of the educational resources due to them did the Arab sector receive in 2007?

  1. 100%
  2. 113%
  3. 71%

12. Based on their relative share in the population, how much of the job creation and training resources due to them did the Arab sector receive in 2007?

  1. 100%
  2. 89%
  3. 64%

Answers here…

In order watch the film online, click here to Omanoot.com

POST-SCREENING GUIDING QUESTIONS AND MATERIALS

Clashing rights

  • Do you believe that in order for the Jews to live as a Free People in Our Land, we must necessarily prevent others from being a free people in their land?
  • Do you believe that if living as a Free People in Our Land leads to denying others’ the same rights in the same place, we should abandon the Zionist idea?
אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי?

וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי?

וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתַי?

If I am not for myself, who will be? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, then when?

This famous quotation attributed to Hillel in the Ethics of the Fathers 1:13 would seem to sum up the concerns of the two presenters of this film. How can Israel square Hillel’s circle, maintaining its own Jewish majority nature without causing the suffering of others?

Ethnicity, Peoplehood, and Democracy

  • Do you believe that an ethnic State is wrong? [Think of the difference between, for example, Norway, Sweden, Finland]
  • Do you believe that the Jews are a People, a nation? or are the Jews connected only by religion?
  • Are the guys in Akko demanding their individual rights to express themselves, or are they demanding collective rights to self-determination?

For more on the connection and disconnection between rights, democracy, and liberalism, Israeli intellectual and novelist Gadi Taub comments: “liberalism and democracy may be drifting apart. Reducing democracy to liberal individual rights and positing them in opposition to national identity, may indeed be a step on the way to transcending nation-states. But transcending nation-states may prove to be a transcending of democracy along with them.” For more, read his piece “Are Liberalism and Democracy Parting Ways?”

About National Anthems

In order to further explore the nature of anthems, and Israel’s anthem in particular, you might also refer to this program.

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