As part of the ongoing UFV Palestine Film Series, the film The Iron Wall was shown on November 2. The series is sponsored by the political science department. The screening was presented by UFV alumni Philip Sherwood. Sherwood has a personal connection to Palestine, and in addition to introducing the film, he gave an experienced account of the events taking place there.
The 52 minute, 2006 film documents the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza in Palestine, which has lasted 50 years, and has established approximately 200 settlements and outposts in the region. The Iron Wall specifically follows the events leading to the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier. The film speaks about the effects of both the wall, and the settlements on the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
The Iron Wall advises that the viability of a Palestinian state, and the peaceful resolution of conflict, is rapidly slipping away. The film features interviews with both Israeli and Palestinian activists such as Jeff Halper, Akiva Eldar, and Hind Khoury, as well as interviews with Israeli soldiers, settlers, and Palestinian farmers.
A block of time was set for discussion after the film, which prompted a healthy and respectful question period and debate. Sherwood stated that the political science department is trying their best to show films that speak about different aspects of the crisis in Palestine.
Following the discussion period, in an interview, Sherwood gave advice on how students can get involved with the crisis in Palestine. Sherwood stated that “the best thing students can do is get more informed.” He suggested that students question information regarding this subject. “Don’t just take what you’re handed, challenge the dominant narrative, and take time to get informed by seeing films like this.” Sherwood also encourages students who feel strongly enough about the situation to visit Palestine, as there is simply no better way to educate yourself on the events taking place there than to witness them yourself.
By showing this series, Sherwood and the political science department are trying to raise awareness about the region, and the topic of human rights. Sherwood states that the only reason these people are being persecuted is because they are Palestinian, and believes the Canadian government should be doing more. “I think that it’s wrong, and I don’t see why one group should do that. Our government gives almost unconditional support, this being the Canadian government and all three political parties, to the Israelis. It’s a degree of complicity, in the sense that our country is enabling Israel to carry on what it’s doing.”
The main message that Sherwood suggests students should take away from these films, is simply that this is happening, and there are steps we can take to make a difference. “If there is any change, it’s probably going to come from the bottom up. It’s people like us speaking out that will help bring about change.” These are the topics Sherwood believes we should be talking about.
The Iron Wall is on YouTube for any who may have missed the screening. This is the third of four events in the Palestine Film Series. The final film, Stone Cold Justice, which is about the treatment of Palestinian children, will be shown on November 15 at 3:30 p.m. in room B121 at UFV. This event is free to attend.