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“Israelism” documentary shown by student government association 

*Editor’s note: Per AP style guidelines we use the language “Israel-Hamas war.” Questions or comments regarding this may be directed to our Editor-in-Chief, Paige Naughton at  

MOORHEAD – The documentary “Israelism” follows the lives of two American Jews who both transform from staunchly pro-Israeli’s, to fighting against the false narrative that had defined both of their lives. 

The hour and a half long documentary was shown to a group of around 40 students on Tuesday, March 12 in Olin 124. Some students stayed after to discuss. 

The viewing was organized by the Israel-Palestine subcommittee, a group created by the student government association (SGA), in response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. 

“The subcommittee has just been looking for more ways to engage the campus community and FM community in the topic of the Palestinian genocide,” the committee chair, Anna Kronbeck said.  

Provided at the showing of the 2023 documentary “Israelism,” was pizza, juice and dates. 

The dates were a part of a student request to help those fasting for Ramadan break their fast. 

The documentary explores how Jewish Americans like Simone Zimmerman and Eitan (who’s surname is not given) are conditioned to have a strong connection with the country of Israel, to the point where it becomes synonymous with their identity. 

“Israel was treated as a core part of being a Jew,” said Zimmerman, in the film. 

Many clips are shown throughout the documentary of young Jewish children with their families in parades, happily waving the flag of Israel and sporting the colors of the white and blue flag on almost every article of clothing possible. 

“Israel is Judaism and Judaism is Israel,” said a Jewish day schoolteacher in the documentary. 

In the past, both Zimmerman and Eitan were unquestioningly loyal in their support of the country.  

Zimmerman defended Israel on her college campus, taking part in a pro-Israel student group, while Eitan went to Israel and joined the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). 

However, both Eitan and Zimmerman witness the situation firsthand in Israel and their worldview changes. 

In an animated section of the documentary, Eitan describes how his IDF colleagues kicked a bound and blindfolded Palestinian on the ground for several minutes.  

Zimmerman receives a tour of Palestinian territory as well and reflects on her lack of education of the Palestinian people. A scene plays of her holding a drawing she made of Israel when she was seven years old, and viewers can see that does not include any Palestinian territory. 

After the documentary ended, about half of the crowd stayed in the room to discuss, with Kronbeck facilitating discussion. During the beginning of the reflection, there was surprise around the idea that Jewish people could be unaware of the actions committed by Israel. 

Fanan Nizam, a junior and lead commissioner for the diversity, equity and inclusion commission on campus, was one of the group’s more outspoken members. 

“Jewish people have a long history of trauma but also liberation, and therefore they should be pro-Palestinian,” Nizam said. 

Another outspoken member of the group was Abdalluh Salha. He expressed frustration over a lack of solidarity when it came to the crisis in Israel and Palestine 

“We don’t have good enough support from the Jewish community because they feel marginalized by their own community,” Salha said.  

The conversation also touched on the idea of the generational trauma of the Jewish people who endured the Holocaust, and the cycle of violence that has been perpetuated by some Israelis. 

“It’s just hard to see the idea of, you know, the people of Israel shall live, which is a prayer you heard in this movie, and yet (The prayer) can be recycled in that we live and for us to live we have to do XYZ,” Salha said, referring to committing violence against Palestinians. 

The group seemed to reach a consensus that inherited trauma is not an excuse for violence. 

“But what is not inherited, is this instinct to inflict violence upon other people,” said Nizam. 

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