|Directed by:||Jesse Atlas||Rating:||TV-PG|
|Release Date:||2005||Running Time:||52 mins.|
|Language:||Hebrew, Arabic & English (subtitles)||Genre:||Documentary|
A point of violence and great conflict, the Green Line, the boundary that separates Israel from its Arab neighbors of Jordan, Egypt and Syria, got its name from the green pencil used to draw borders on a map during negotiations. At The Green Line interviews soldiers forced to defend the territory, offering surprisingly candid takes on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“You see their gaze and you see they’re looking at you with fear with hatred” a former checkpoint officer says of the Palestinians, “and you want to tell them, ‘look I’m a good guy.’ And of course it’s nonsense because you can be a good guy or a bad guy, but you are doing your job. And your job is to be an occupier. And your job is to keep them without liberty.”
At The Green Line gives voice to the thoughts of those who are at the heart of the conflict but are rarely asked or allowed to speak up. Most all those interviewed recognize the complexity of the situation and pity the Palestinian people, but their opinions differ when it comes to how the problem should be solved. While some soldiers join Courage to Refuse — refusing to defend the Green Line and serving prison time instead — others believe that they’re making a difference from the inside by defending the Green Line and treating Palestinians fairly.
The documentary explores the unique situation of Israel’s youth: After having grown up in a nation full of violence, every eighteen-year-old must enter the Israeli Army, marking the end of their childhood. “The only difference between the youth in the United States or in the world and the youth in Israel, is that after high school instead of choosing a college you choose a unit,” a young soldier explains. “You get a rifle in your hands,” another soldier remarks, “And you’re with it twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. And that’s it. No more childhood.”
Israeli military officials talk about training upstanding soldiers, who are taught to use their guns only when absolutely necessary. But many soldiers say their moral integrity is brought into conflict when they’re asked to defend the Green Line. “You have two different conversations running at the same time,” a commanding officer explains, “One is: ‘how can I be an effective soldier and protect my country by finding the terrorists?’ And at the same time: ‘how to be a human being that honors the lives of the Palestinians?’”
In a particularly revealing moment, an Israeli soldier who has just been reprimanding a Palestinian is reprimanded himself by a fellow soldier. “Do you see how stupid you look?” the second soldier asks his comrade, pointing out that his colleague is standing there “with a gun and a camera telling the Palestinian to be peaceful.” The ranting soldier sees himself as an oppressor and believes the curfew he’s implementing should be lifted, but is nonetheless still there, serving his country and obeying orders.
And after witnessing outbreaks of incredible violence in Israel, including a bombed cafe that resulted in twenty-one Israeli deaths at the hands of a young suicide bomber, At The Green Line searches for a hopeful message.
Perhaps, some in the film wonder, there is hope for the future – and that the literal and figurative walls that divide them will come down.
At The Green Line brings its audience deep inside this question in a way no film has before – and discovers that even for those making life-and-death decisions every day, there are no clear answers.