Last week [April 17], I attended the East Providence Weaver Library’s showing of “The Settlers,” a two-hour documentary by Israeli-American filmmaker Shimon Dotan. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016. It traces the history and rise of the Jewish settler movement on the West Bank, focusing especially on the extremists who have driven the movement forward. It’s a terrific, often disturbing, documentary about religious extremism. The power of the film lies in showing the West Bank settlers in their own words. Some of them are pretty scary, advocating violence against Arabs and a greater Israel that extends all the way to Iraq.
This is not just an Israeli problem. About 15 percent of settlers are Americans. According to Oxford University scholar Sara Yael Hirschhorn, approximately 60,000 Americans Jews live in Jewish outposts out of a total population of approximately 400,000 settlers in occupied territory, excluding East Jerusalem.
Kudos to the Weaver Library for showing this film and to East Bay Citizens for Peace for running a very respectful discussion afterward in which all viewpoints were expressed. People tried to prevent the library from showing the film, but fortunately they were unsuccessful. About 75 people attended the showing.