Warmly received at this weeks JDIFF.
Directed by Keith Walsh and Jill Beardsworth, Apples of the Golan – filmed entirely in the Golan Heights over four years – poses many questions about the clandestine occupation of Golan. Israel seized the Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Six Day War, during which time most of the Syrian Arab inhabitants fled the area. Today, surrounded by electric fences, landmines and trenches the area is home to about 20,000 Syrian Arabs who share Israeli-occupied Golan with an estimated 20,000 settlers who live in more than 30 Jewish settlements.
Prior to the occupation there were 139 villages in the Golan. Today, only five remain and one of these – Majdal Shams – is the backdrop to this fascinating documentary in which a myriad of characters, from shepherds to rap singers, speak. Apples, brought to the region by a holy man in 1945, are both the lifeblood of the Druze Arabs and a metaphor for survival: “we cling to our homeland like the apples cling to the trees”. The Arabs of Golan are neither Israeli nor Syrian and are classed as ‘undefined’. As one person puts it, “we are like birds in a cage: you give the birds food and water, but the birds cannot escape.” – Barrie Dowdall, Documentary filmmaker