Editor’s Note: Colliding Dreams opens in limited theatrical release today, March 4, 2016.
The concept and philosophy of Zionism is unfamiliar to many, perhaps most, people in the United States. Many assume the word itself is synonymous with something mysterious and conspiratorial, thanks to the amount of crackpot theories floating about. In truth, Zionism is the name of a nationalist movement of Jews who are committed to the creation of a Jewish homeland.
One of the biggest strengths of Colliding Dreams is showing that the religious view of Zionism only tells part of the story.
That sounds simple enough, but it most certainly is not. Colliding Dreams, co-directed by Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky, is a new documentary that takes on the massive task of explaining the issue, and promises to tell “the story of Zionism as seen by the inhabitants of the land.” It’s a sprawling and comprehensive primer on the complicated issues behind the formation of Israel and its ongoing, and frequently bloody, conflict with Palestine.
Narrated by actor Alan Rosenberg, Colliding Dreams features a host of settlers, experts, historians, activists, former members of Knesset and more, all telling their stories of the formation and settlement of Israel. The volatile situation of today began in the late 1800s, when European countries drifted toward a nationalism that did not include the Jewish populations in their countries; Jews were considered separate and outsiders, and the Anti-Jewish pogroms were a result. In response, Zionism was born and the search for a land was begun. The majority of Zionists didn’t want just any land, but rather the historic, holy Land of Israel, which believers felt had been promised to them by God.
One of the biggest strengths of Colliding Dreams is showing that the religious view of Zionism only tells part of the story; beyond the religious motivation was a practical need for the Jewish people to have a home of their own. But as one group sent to Palestine a century ago to scout the land wrote, “Palestine is a wonderful place. It’s like a beautiful girl, but the girl is already engaged.”
A documentary willing to say that, as one interviewee noted, the Jewish claim to Israel can be both legitimate and oppressive, is an important documentary indeed.
That sentiment is at the heart of Colliding Dreams, which seeks to present a more moderate view of the conflict. The extremes on both sides get plenty of press, and most of us probably didn’t realize until Colliding Dreams came along just how much we needed a more moderate view, opinions from people on the street and those who are both committed to the cause but understand its negatives, too.
Overlong and at times reminiscent of the films you watched in Social Studies so your teacher could get a little work done, Colliding Dreams makes up for its dry moments with fantastic, rare footage and photos. It’s a very impressive primer on the subject, though quite a bit is overlooked for the sake of time, and some opinions are subtly given more weight than others. Still, a documentary willing to say that, as one interviewee noted, the Jewish claim to Israel can be both legitimate and oppressive, is an important documentary indeed.
Filled with rare footage and unseen photos, Colliding Dreams is both a fine primer on the history of Zionism, and a much-needed moderate voice in the continuing conflict between Palestine and Israel.