Notes: Needless to say, most of these videos aren’t available on Netflix and won’t be found in your district’s video library. Out of respect for the filmmakers, url links are to the videos’ originators and/or distributors. In some cases the videos can be downloaded free of charge at these sites. Many can also be accessed through Kanopy; many universities and some library systems have Kanopy site licenses. Video reviews by Mora Ognian and Jody Sokolower.
Videos are in alphabetic order, separated into three groups: Elementary and Above, Secondary and Above, and Post-secondary and Teacher Resources. We’ve listed each video at the youngest level we think is age-appropriate, but all of them work well with older students—don’t hesitate to use a video in the “Elementary and Above” category with high school students.
All of the videos listed are either in English or have English subtitles. Many can also be viewed with subtitles in Arabic, French, Spanish and other languages. Available subtitles are listed on their websites.
Elementary and Above
Vows to my Homeland, 10 min.
Shoruq and MECA
Arabic with English subtitles.
Shoruq, a cultural and community center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, took Palestinian youth to visit their ancestral villages. Sarah Faraj was one such youth, and her livestream of her visit is seen by Aya, a teenager living in Gaza. Aya asks Sarah to visit her ancestral village, Al Jura, located a few miles north of the Gaza Strip. Ayat surprises her grandmother, Um Nabeel, with a video call with Sarah, who takes them on a live virtual tour of Al Jura, the village Um Nabeel calls home and refuses to forget.
This short, heartfelt video captures the intergenerational Palestinian refusal to forget about their homelands, and would make an excellent introduction to studying forced migrations, the Nakba, Gaza, and/or the right of return.
Grade level: 6th grade and above.
Flying Paper, 51 mins.
Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill, dirs. (2014). Flying Paper Productions. Arabic with easy-to-read English subtitles.
This gentle film focuses on 14-year-old Musa, his 12-year-old sister Widad, and their younger siblings and neighbors. The children are building kites as part of a school-sponsored effort to break the Guinness World Record for number of kites flown from the same place. We watch the children build and test their kites and later join thousands of kite-flying students on a Gaza beach. Children talk about the impact of the siege on themselves and their families, but it’s in the background. This rare video opportunity to see Palestinian children just being children would make a good introduction to a deeper look at the lives of Palestinian children under occupation or to a discussion of how children participate in carrying culture from one generation to the next.
Flying Paper might be a little long for elementary school students; some sections in the middle could easily be skipped.
Grade level: Upper elementary, Secondary
Key words: Children in Gaza, Children in the Middle East, Gaza, Kites
Frontiers of Dreams and Fears, 55 min.
Mai Masri (2001) Nour Productions Film. Arabic with English subtitles.
Available on Netflix.
This documentary follows the experiences of two young girls—Mona, who lives in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, and Manar, who lives in Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem in Palestine’s West Bank. Through written correspondence, the girls form a friendship and compare their experiences. After the Israelis are forced out of southern Lebanon in 2000, the friends are able to meet at the border fence between Lebanon and the West Bank, solidifying their relationship despite their physical separation. They are joined by hundreds of Palestinian refugees, reaching across the border wire to touch family members and friends they haven’t seen in decades.
Manar tells Mona about her trips to Palestinian villages that were destroyed by the Israelis. At friend’s request, Manar visits Mona’s family’s village as well, relaying how beautiful but deplete the area is now. These sequences contribute to the on-going theme of right of return, which the children repeatedly reference as a source of hope for their futures.
The documentary overall does an excellent job of demonstrating the shared experiences of oppression for young Palestinians, embedded in the everyday highs and lows that are universal for adolescents, and highlighting their resilience and commitment to their heritage and rights.
Key words: refugee camps, Palestinian resistance, right of return.
Grade level: Upper elementary, middle, secondary.
Inside Israeli Apartheid, 22 min.
Yumna Patel and Palestine Productions (2022). English.
This short video introduces the concept of “apartheid” and its relevance to Israeli policies toward Palestinians. It discusses the factors that constitute a definition of apartheid and how they are experienced by Palestinians every day.
Through exposing different facets of Israeli rule over Palestinians—from segregated housing to control of movement from one place to another, to hierarchies of citizenship, etc.—the video reveals the policies and legal mechanisms that marginalize and discriminate against Palestinians.
Although there are limitations to an anti-apartheid framework (equality under the law is not the same as liberation), this video is a good resource as an introduction— the brief historical information and up-to-date conditions demonstrate in an easily accessible format the severity of the human rights violations taking place.
Key words: Apartheid, systemic discrimination.
Grade level: Middle, secondary.
My Neighborhood, 26 mins.
Julia Bacha and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, dirs. (2012). Just Visions. Arabic and English with English subtitles.
This short film chronicles the story of Mohammed El Jurd, a Palestinian 11-year-old, whose family is forced out of their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli settlers. In fact, the settlers are trying to take over all the homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Mohammed comes of age in the midst of unrelenting tension with the Israeli settlers and growing resistance among both Palestinians and progressive Israelis.
In addition to Mohammed, there are interviews with members of his family, other evicted residents, Israeli settlers, and Israelis who come to see the injustice and join the demonstrations, including one Israeli mother who is influenced by her teenage children to join the movement to save Sheikh Jarrah.
Grade level: Upper Elementary, Middle and High school, Post-Secondary
Key words: Homelessness, Evictions, Ethnic cleansing, Settler violence, Israeli settlers, East Jerusalem, Forced displacement, Children under occupation.
The Present, 25 minutes.
Farah Nabulsi (2020) Philistine Films. Arabic and English with English subtitles.
Available on Netflix.
This great introduction to Palestine for younger students focuses on a young girl, Yasmine, and her father, Yusef, as they travel from one West Bank town to another to buy Yasmine’s mother a new refrigerator as an anniversary gift.
The film centers on their experiences at the Israeli checkpoint that lies between their house and the appliance store. Yasmine watches as her father is interrogated, ridiculed, and briefly caged by the Israeli soldiers, while Israeli cars breeze through the checkpoint without question. Finally, Yasmine and Yusef make it through.
On the trip back, pushing the refrigerator on a wobbly dolly, the father endures more abuse, only to discover that the refrigerator won’t fit through the narrow Palestinian gate; the soldiers refuse to let him use the wide Israeli passage. Tempers mount between Yusef and the soldiers. It seems that the day will end in tragedy, but Yasmine takes the lead. Taking advantage of the soldiers’ distraction, she calmly pushes the refrigerator through the Israeli gate and toward her home.
Because the relationship between Yasmine and her father is so transparent and tender, students from elementary school on will have a strong connection to the story and many questions. This makes The Present an excellent cultural energizer to start learning about Palestine.
Key words: Children; checkpoints; Palestinian youth; West Bank.
Grade level: Upper elementary, secondary.
Secret Hebron: The School Run, 28 mins.
Donna Baillie, dir. (2003). Journeyman Pictures. In Arabic, Hebrew and English with English subtitles.
This video shows young Palestinian children in the West Bank city of Hebron who risk being attacked by Israeli soldiers as they try to go to school each morning. The children are kept under curfew for months at a time, making it impossible for them to travel on the “Israeli only” streets to get to school. The youngsters are shown scrabbling across the roofs of buildings in an effort to avoid the soldiers below. The film shows the efforts of groups like the Christian Peacemakers Teams to help the children get safely to school. Although the presence of international observers sometimes helps, Israeli soldiers regularly use percussion grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets against the children.
The first section of this video provides an excellent example for elementary and older students of the impact of the occupation on Palestinian children. However, as the video continues, it focuses on the efforts of international peacekeepers to get “clarity” about the regulations, which takes the focus off the children and the efforts of Palestinian parents, teachers, and the community to get them to school despite the occupation.
Grade Level: Elementary, Middle, High School
Key words: Hebron, Israeli Occupation, Israeli Military repression, Violence against children, Children’s rights, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Education as a human right
Secondary and Above
Farha, 92 mins.
Darin J. Sallam, dir. (2021) TaleBox, Laika Film & Television, Chimney.
Arabic with English subtitles.
Farha is a story about the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe”) told through the perspective of a teenage Palestinian girl. The film is set in the 1948 Palestinian countryside on the eve of the Zionist military campaign of ethnic cleansing. The viewer sees the world through the eyes of Farha, the daughter of the village’s leader, and learns of her dreams of going to school in the city. Her hopes and excitement for a big life change are quickly diminished when Farha becomes aware of the looming threat against her father and their village. When her village is suddenly attacked by Zionist militias, the viewer watches Farha’s entire life fall apart. In the chaos of the invasion, Farha is locked in a cellar by her father to keep her safe. She escapes and is left to tell her story and bear the burden of what she has witnessed.
This film will be interesting for high school students as the story is told from a youth perspective. Farha’s youthful hope while on the cusp of an exciting life change will be sure to resonate with high schoolers. This film is also a great conversation starter and addition to any lesson on Palestine, human rights, ethnic cleansing, and forced migration as it adds a personal and emotional tone that is necessary when discussing the Nakba. FARHA also accurately portrays the events of the 1948 Nakba.
Grade level: secondary and above
5 Broken Cameras, 90 mins.
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, dirs. (2012). Kino Lorber. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, chronicles the struggle of Bil’in—a West Bank village threatened by illegal Israeli settlements on their land and the construction of Israel’s “separation wall.” Burnet receives his first camera in 2005 to film the protests in his village as his youngest son, Gibreel, was born. Structured around the destruction of each of Burnat’s 5 cameras, the film chronicles 5 years of Bil’in’s creative resistance, the price the community pays for their almost unbelievable determination, and the Israeli forces’ increasingly brutal repression—contrasted with Gibreel’s growth from infancy to childhood.
This film is a strong vehicle for talking about why Palestinians are so committed to staying on their land and for looking at the impact of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and communities.
Note: One could get the impression from this video that Palestinian women are only marginally involved in fighting for Palestinian land and independence. As an additional resource, the video Budrus, also about Palestinian struggle against the “separation wall,” focuses on the leadership of young women.
Grade Level: High school, Post-secondary
Key words: Separation wall, Israeli occupation, Forced displacement, Ethnic cleansing, Illegal settlements, Zionism, Land theft
3000 Nights, 1hr 39 min.
Mai Masri (2015) Nour Productions Film. Arabic with English subtitles.
Available on Netflix.
After false accusations of conspiring to help a Palestinian child accused of being a terrorist, Layal is arrested and taken to an Israeli women’s prison. From the moment she arrives, we see the discrimination and oppression that Palestinians face outside of prison compounded within. Israeli women who are incarcerated are allowed personal goods in their cells and their own clothing; the treatment by the guards is noticeably better and less volatile. The Palestinian women, on the other hand, are easily identified (and thus targeted) by their uniforms and barren cells; they are forced to work the worst jobs, and often terrorized by the Israeli prisoners.
Soon after she is imprisoned, Layal discovers she is pregnant. The warden coerces her, in exchange for a visit with her husband, into informing on the other Palestinian prisoners. After she gives birth in chains, Layla is repeatedly forced to decide between the Palestinian women who have supported her and the future and wellbeing of her child.
The film’s climax occurs when the women prisoners organize a hunger strike, and Layal must decide what to do.
This film does an excellent job portraying the situation of Palestinian political prisoners, and the proximity of Palestinian and Israeli women within the prison spotlights the differences in their experiences. We see the constant targeting they face, and their constant insistence on defending themselves and asserting their dignity.
Finally, with the birth of Layal’s son, the film showcases how committed Palestinians are to fostering hope and cultural identity into new generations; despite their bleak circumstances and surroundings, the Palestinian women inside create a community that loves and provides for the child in the best ways they can.
Key words: Incarceration, legal discrimination, Israeli military, Palestinian resistance
Grade level: Secondary and above.
Budrus, 80 mins.
Julia Bacha, dir. (2009). Just Vision. In Arabic and English with English subtitles.
This film is about the struggle against the Israeli “separation barrier” in one village in the West Bank. Palestinian community organizer Ayed Morrar is working to unite Palestinian political factions and Israeli supporters to save Budrus, his village near Ramallah, from destruction by Israel’s construction of the apartheid wall. An exciting aspect of the video is the focus on Morrar’s 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, who launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. The video raises important issues around the role of youth in building community struggles and counters stereotypes of Palestinian women and girls as passive or victims.
Grade level: Secondary and above
Key words: Israeli separation barrier, Palestinian villages, Palestinian youth, Palestinian women, Nonviolent direct action
The Crossing, 10 minutes.
Ameen Nayef (2017) Odeh Films. Arabic with English subtitles.
Available on Netflix.
This short film is about three Palestinian siblings, all young adults, who must cross an Israeli checkpoint to visit their sick grandfather. The opening scenes imply the difficulty of obtaining the travel permits (which were granted only after their grandfather became terminally ill) and highlight the tension with which the siblings approach the crossing—despite their permits, it is likely they will be turned away.
Once they arrive at the checkpoint, they watch the border guard turn away other individuals who have permits in a vindictive and seemingly random fashion, denying entry and refusing to provide any reasoning or justification (and speaking to Palestinians in Hebrew or English only). At first, this is the case for the siblings as well. In a final attempt to convince the guard, the eldest sibling reveals that their grandfather is not sick but already dead. This deeply personal revelation, made in desperation to convince the indifferent guard, shocks the younger siblings and underlines the heartbreaking nature of the moment.
High school students will be interested in the family dynamics among the siblings, so The Crossing could be helpful for beginning discussions on checkpoints and their impact on Palestinians’ ability to travel for work, family, education, and healthcare. The checkpoint guard appears alone; students need to be aware that his behavior and treatment of the individuals at the checkpoint is not singular in nature, but rather consistent with the systemic denial of Palestinian rights.
Key words: Apartheid wall; checkpoints.
Grade level: Secondary and above
EWASH Palestine (2014).
This short film introduces the strain under which Palestinian farmers continue to live in the Jordan Valley. Water shortages prevent farmers from growing productive crops, while right next door the Israeli water company Mekorot pumps millions of gallons from the ground in order to supply water to illegal settlements.
Palestinians have systematically been denied their right to dig wells or build water infrastruture since 1967, when the Israeli army completed its occupation of all of historic Palestine. No Palestinian has received a permit to build a water structure since 1967, and “illegal” water infrastructure is routinely demolished.
Grade Levels: Middle school, high school, post-secondary
Key words: Settler colonialism, Water, Land appropriation, Agriculture, Jordan River, West Bank, Oslo Accords, Borders, Mekerot Water Company, 1967 War
Benny Brunner, dir. (2012). 2911 Foundation and Al Jazeera English. In Arabic, English and Hebrew with English subtitles.
The story of 70,000 Palestinian books that were looted in 1948 by the newly created State of Israel. Israeli historians, Palestinian writers, and Palestinian refugees describe how Zionist forces worked with Hebrew University to seize the private libraries of Palestinian intellectuals as they were expelled from their houses, including volumes of great historical value. Palestinian prisoners were commandeered to do much of the looting. These books are still held, labeled Absentee Property, in the National Library in Israel and are inaccessible to Palestinian scholars. The interviews and cultural critiques place the book theft in a larger historical-cultural context, shedding additional light on the Palestinian tragedy of 1948. The film raises issues about the relationship between universities and military strategies that are relevant to the United States as well; another connection is to recent controversies as countries and Indigenous peoples have demanded the return of art work stolen during colonial conquest.
Note: The terms “abandoned homes” and “absentee property,” both used in the film, are political ones. Palestinian families were forced to leave their homes by military order, by news of massacres in other villages and by force. Palestinians did not leave their homes by choice.
Grade level:High school, post-secondary
Key words: Nakba, Palestinian literature, Libraries, National Library of Israel, Hebrew University, Palestinian scholars, Palestinian culture
Al Jazeera (2017). Released by Electronic Intifada (2018).
The Lobby—USA is a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States. It documents efforts to silence discussion about Israel and Palestinian human rights, particularly on college campuses.
The film was made by Al Jazeera. Shortly before it was scheduled for release, it was censored when Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate that funds Al Jazeera, came under intense Israel lobby pressure not to air the film. In March 2018, The Electronic Intifada and other independent news sources began releasing leaked excerpts of the video.
Although it is too long to show in its entirety, the exposé of Israeli intelligence attacking US college students should make excerpts compelling to high school and college students.
A well-documented exploration of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation. The first few minutes of the video place Palestinian resistance within the historical context of Ireland, Algeria, the US Civil Rights Movement, and South Africa. It describes the first waves of Jewish immigration, rising tensions between Palestinians, Zionists and the British during the 1920s and 1930s, and the 1948 Nakba—expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages. Also covered are the 1967 war, the first Intifada (1987), the Oslo Peace Process, illegal settlement expansion, the second Intifada (2000), the separation wall, and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. More recent events and the past decade of military assaults and the siege of Gaza are not included.
There is quite a bit of voice-over narration that may be difficult for English language learners.
Note:Within the movie a statement is made about the United Nations upholding and defending Palestinian human rights. The history of the UN in Palestine is complex; For example, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA) provides critical food, healthcare, and education for Palestinians in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. At the same time, all other refugees internationally come under the mandate of the UNHCR, the UN Agency for Refugees, which works to repatriate refugees whenever possible. The UNRWA does not work for repatriation; this categorization weakens international support for the Palestinian right of return.
Grade Level: High school, Post-secondary
Key words: Borders, Settler colonialism, Home demolition, Illegal settlements, Ethnic cleansing, UN partition, Zionism, Separation wall, Land theft, Christian Palestinians, Israeli role in Middle East
Palestinian Girls Make Videos about Their Lives
These five short videos were created by Palestinian teenage girls at Shoruq, a cultural and community center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. Each portrays an aspect of their lives under Israeli occupation.
Roadmap to Apartheid, 95 mins.
Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson, dirs. (2012). Journeyman Pictures. In English. Some subtitles.
A clear and accessible exposition, with many examples, of the parallels between apartheid in South Africa before 1994 and in Israel. Students will learn a lot about the history of both countries. Explains the differences between petty apartheid (drinking fountains, etc.) and grand apartheid (structures like ID cards, access to land, jobs, natural resources); this is an opening to compare/contrast with structural racism in the United States. The video may be too long for some classes; the first 30 or 35 minutes make a clear case for why Israel is an apartheid regime. Then, at approximately 1:11, the focus shifts to resistance with a discussion of the 1stIntifada, moving on to the role of international solidarity.
Grade Level: Secondary and post-secondary
Key words: Apartheid, South Africa, Apartheid in Palestine, Two-state solution
Slingshot Hip Hop, 80 mins., Arabic, English and Hebrew with English subtitles.
Jackie Salloum, dir. (2008).
This video by a Palestinian American woman filmmaker braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover hip-hop and begin to use it as a tool to protest Israeli colonial control. The central focus is on the Lyd hip-hop group RAM. As RAM leaderTamer Nafar explains, “Our music is one-third hip-hop, one-third literature, and one-third . . . “—here he points out the window at the struggles of Palestinian youth inside 1948 Israel. Hip-hop artists in Gaza and Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem are also featured. The video includes young women hip-hop artists and the additional challenges they face from traditional attitudes about women.
Slingshot Hip Hopis an excellent introduction to Palestine for middle and high school students and lends itself to broader discussions of the use of the arts in changing political consciousness, speaking truth to power and building collective resistance.
Grade Level: Middle School, High School
Key words: DAM, Palestine, Middle East conflict, Palestinian hip-hop, Arabic rap
“Why Are Muslims So . . .” (5 mins.)
Sakila Islam and Hawa Rahman.
18th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival Finals (2015).
This award-winning spoken word piece by two Muslim young women is an excellent introduction to Islamophobia. For teaching materials connected to the poem, see Alison Kysia’s lesson “What Is Islamophobia? Interpersonal vs. Structural Discrimination.”
The Wanted 18, 75 minutes
This excellent movie, a combination of interviews and animation, documents how the town of Beit Sahour, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, participated in the First Intifada (1987-1993). In a community effort to resist the economic impact of the Israeli occupation, they begin growing their own food and refusing to pay Israeli taxes. They buy 18 cows to supply the community with milk rather than buying it from the Israelis. The movie documents their growing resistance and Israeli efforts to repress them.
The Wanted 18 provides many examples of how the occupation affected Palestinian lives in a day-to-day way during this period and an in-depth look at a local community’s participation in the First Intifada. Toward the end of the film, Beit Sahour activists describe the negative effect on their organizing of the Oslo Accords, providing an opportunity to explore the content, controversy among Palestinians, and impact of the Accords. Other issues raised include youth throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles and milk trucks, taxation without representation, organizing strategies, and the efficacy of boycotts. The narration centers on interviews with Palestinians who led the effort; unfortunately, few women’s voices are included. Israeli soldiers who led and participated in the repression of Beit Sahour are also interviewed.
NOTE: Scattered throughout are animated sequences in which the cows talk. The cows were originally purchased from an Israeli settlement, and in the beginning of the film they use anti-Palestinian slurs, including “raghead,” and call anti-settlement Jews “Israeli peaceniks”; these are issues you’ll want to discuss with your class.
Grade Level: High school and post-secondary
Key words: Agriculture, Boycott, First Intifada, Nonviolent movements, Israeli occupation, Palestinian living conditions, Palestinian resistance
Post-Secondary and Teacher Resource
Rawan Damen, dir. (2013). Al Jazeera English (4-part series, each part just over 45-minutes long).
Most useful as background material for educators and post-secondary students, this documentary by Rawan Damen, a Palestinian woman filmmaker, is an in-depth exploration of the roots, events and continuing impact of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948. Episode I starts with Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1799 effort to promise Palestine to the Jewish people in exchange for loyalty to France against England and covers the early Zionist movement. Episode II starts with the Palestinian revolt of 1936-37, aimed at securing national independence from the British Empire and an end to Zionist immigration onto Palestinian land. Episode III focuses on the UN Partition Plan and the events leading up to 1948. Episode IV focuses on 1948 and the aftermath. Arab, Israeli, and Western historians and eyewitnesses provide the central narrative, which is accompanied by archive material and documents, many only recently released.
Grade level: Educators, advanced high school students, and post-secondary
Key words: British colonialism, British imperialism, Zionist movement, 1948, Establishment of Israel, Settler colonialism, Palestinian expulsion, Nakba United Nations and Palestine, Jewish immigration to Palestine.