The Law in These Parts


The power and durability of Israel's military rule of the Palestinian territories occupied in the 1967 war stem very much from the deployment and constant refinement of an ever-growing set of military laws and a military judicial system to enforce these laws. As it is crucial for Israel to adhere (or at least to appear to adhere) to international law, the military legal/juridical system is founded on seemingly solid legal ground; Israel's scholarly and highly "professional" interpretations of the relevant international treaties, conventions, and basic principals or humanitarian law. With these interpretations, Israel has created a legal framework by which the occupation itself and all measures used to maintain it are, in theory, completely legal.

The "temporary” occupation has lasted more than 40 years through which Palestinians are required to adhere to a legal code to which they virulently object but have no way of influencing. The Israeli military—by its own appointment—has for the last 40 years served as the sole legislative (military commanders can pass laws with the stroke of a pen), executive, and judiciary body in the occupied territories.

What happens when a democracy enforces military rule over a neighboring population in a territory one third of its size? What becomes of the pillars of humanism when a Western democratic state becomes entangled in the web of a 'war on terror'?

These are the kinds of questions The Law in These Parts aims to explore.

The heart of the film is a series of "testimonies" – interviews with legal professionals: prosecutors, judges, military legal advisors—people whose profession is to uphold law and justice. They are not "expert interviewees," all of them took an active part in developing and operating the military legal system in the occupied territories from its installment in 1967 until the present.

Four decades of well preserved archives attest to this massive legal machine: hundreds of legal professionals, thousands of military laws issued, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians brought to court for breaking these laws. The characters' "testimonies" will be juxtaposed with pieces of archival "evidence." Archival footage from editorial sources and cinema, filmed in the periods in question which will be edited over audio recordings of texts discovered in various legal archives
(such as trial transcripts, affidavits, rulings, etc.)

Over the last four decades, the tension between security and political interests on the one hand and the Israeli national ideal of being "the only real democracy in the Middle East” on the other hand has grown constantly. Following the history of Israel's rule of law over the occupied Palestinian territories raises some disturbing questions. Why would a state aim to run a military occupation by law? Is it a sophisticated manipulation meant to strengthen the grip on the occupied territories, or is it an honest effort to limit its use of power? Is our occupation by law simply a deception, as Palestinians would claim? Or has it become a unique protective mechanism for us Israelis against acknowledging what we have become after 40 years of dangerously creative legal maneuvering?


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