My Jewish journey to understanding Israel and Palestine

As I watched with horror, the escalating flames in Jerusalem, and their reverberations around Israel and Gaza, it was bitterly ironic that preview screenings of my film, The Tinderbox, are running now.

Five years ago I set out to make a single film that would allow audiences to understand what’s been happening in Israel/Palestine for the past century. Despite being told that there must already be historically rigorous, balanced documentaries clarifying past and present context, I have been unable to find another. This notwithstanding, after two years it became clear that despite being a BAFTA/RTS-winning, Oscar-nominated documentary film team, I and my colleagues were going to have to make this film unpaid. No one was interested. Thankfully, crowd-funding enabled us to pay for many of the costs that couldn’t be deferred and three years later the film is being distributed.

World War I and the British Mandate of Palestine set the scene for today’s violence but the last time there was more than 10 minutes in a documentary about this tale on our TV screens, was in 1978. I am a Jew descended from a long line of rabbis/community leaders and was raised Zionist. Becoming close friends with a Palestinian in my teens and twenties led me to investigate discrepancies between the stories I grew up with and those told by my friend’s family.

It was then that I realised how many myths are now circulating about Israel Palestine in the name of truth, and I decided to make a well-researched film presenting this story. I’ve done this because I firmly believe that no peace agreement can be made until the historic narrative – what happened when and who did what – can be agreed upon.

Very few members of the public now know that the roots of the current violence go back a century and that Britain played a huge role in this epic. So the film juxtaposes the archive history of this period, with my own journey as a diaspora Jew meeting everyone from a Jewish settler to a political member of Hamas, and indeed uncovering my own heritage. Along the way it challenges a number of myths and clarifies the historical narrative. It also reveals how the roots of this continuing saga are still affecting the lives of Israelis and Palestinians to this day. With the current escalation of violence within Jerusalem, Gaza and around Israel, this film, allowing us to understand the roots of this, is even more urgent.

Ever the optimist, I am convinced that in identifying these roots, The Tinderbox also points the way towards a solution, IF we are willing to face and address historic wrongs.

Please watch The Tinderbox in the coming week and join a panel discussion kindly hosted by Lib Dem Friends of Palestine on 31 May at 7.15pm. I will be joined by Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, and by Hannah Weisfeld, the Executive Director of liberal Jewish organisation Yachad. Yachad deserves much credit for swinging Jewish opinion in this country against the occupation of Palestine and in favour of equal rights for Palestinians.
Film Trailer:

* Gillian Mosely is a Jewish documentary maker who has made dozens of films over 24 years garnering numerous awards and is a member of the Lib Dems in Camden.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Congratulations on producing this film, Gillian. I will certainly watch it.

    There is also another insightful documentary currently available on Prime Video

    “Two blue lines was shot over a period of 25 years, It examines the human and political situation of Palestinian people from the years prior to the creation of Israel to the present day. By primarily featuring the narratives of Israelis whose positions run counter to their country’s official policy, Ohio-based filmmaker Tom Hayes provides a portrait of the ongoing conflict not often depicted in our mainstream media.”

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th May '21 - 3:27pm

    A fine piece from Gillian.

    Can I recommend Liberal Democrats For Peace In the Middle East. As a member since its start, and as someone who knows the founder, Leon Duveen, it, like few groupings, is balanced.

    Gillian, where do we get to watch this film, that seems very much needed.

    As someone in the media also, myself, and as a history politics graduate too, I commend you.

  • Nigel Quinton 27th May '21 - 4:10pm

    How do we watch this film? I could not find any link to a screening before 17 June on Dartmouth Films website.

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