Over the past year, Roger Walters, a longtime Israel advocate, has been working on a groundbreaking documentary about Israel’s ‘settlers’ giving an insider’s look into a world that is widely misunderstood. While a disproportionate amount of media covers the Middle East, the voices of the Jews living in Judea and Samaria are never heard.
“I felt that for the average person, the term ‘settler’ is just a word in a mainstream news article, depicted as crazed extremists,” Waters told Israel365 News.
Settling The Facts is a new, groundbreaking documentary about Israel’s ‘settlers’ and the settlements. It is presented by British businessman and Israel supporter Roger Walters (not Waters!!) Roger felt that, for the average person, the term ‘settler’ is just a word in a mainstream news article depicting supposedly radical extremist Israelis. Roger felt this was a misconception that needed to be changed.
The film is called – Settling The Facts: A Deeper Look At Israeli Settlements
The objective of the film is threefold:
- To put a human face on Israeli settlers who are otherwise often portrayed as radical and fanatic.
- To demonstrate that there is a clear and strong legal claim in favor of settlements.
- To challenge the idea that settlements are an obstacle to peace.
While the film has a clear objective, it absolutely speaks to people from all sides of the debate. You will see featured many Israeli settlers, international law experts, and activists from across the spectrum of opinion (from most anti to most pro-settler) – including Palestinians that work for Israelis in the settlements and are supportive of growing ties.
On all three of our objectives, we consider this film to be utterly groundbreaking and original – there really is nothing like this out there.
Most importantly of all, the viewer will likely leave the film wondering whether settlements may in fact, be part of the answer to peace than an obstacle!
He explained that the film, called Settling The Facts: A Deeper Look At Israeli Settlements, interviewed dozens of Jews from Judea and Samaria in an effort to “put a human face on Israeli settlers who are otherwise often portrayed as radical and fanatic.”
They also interviewed experts to demonstrate that there is a clear and strong legal claim in favor of settlements and to challenge the idea that settlements are an obstacle to peace.
“While the film has a clear objective, we absolutely speak to people from all sides of the debate,” Walters explained. “You will see many Israeli settlers, international law experts, activists from across the spectrum of opinion, from the most anti-settler to the most pro-settler.”
The documentary even includes interviews with Palestinians that work alongside Israelis in the settlements and are supportive of growing ties.
“On all these objectives, we consider this film to be utterly groundbreaking and original,” Walters said. “There really is nothing like this out there. The viewer will likely leave the film wondering whether settlements may, in fact be part of the answer to peace than an obstacle.”
Israel365 News sat down to ask Walters about the movie.
ISRAEL365 NEWS: A lot has been said about the Middle East. Israel is probably the most reported topic in the news. However, there’s a big blank spot which is that the side of the Jews is actually not told. And the settlers are, at best, misrepresented or not represented at all. Most people have never heard anything from the actual settlers. So, Roger, if you don’t mind, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you’re making a movie about Israel and settlers.
ROGER WALTERS: Well, I was converted into being a Zionist in 1967 after I volunteered to go to Israel to help out after the Six-Day War. I knew very little about Israel other than Jewish, and it was our homeland. But after I spent a year there, it was in 1968. I became converted. I came to understand the rights that we have to this land. And so I’ve been supporting various projects in Israel over the years. Probably my fondest, the most underfunded of all of them, is an organization that fights BDS by collecting products from farmers in Judea and Samaria and distributing them to the diaspora. Through them, I got to meet many settlers and farmers and got to love them. I felt I needed to share that love of them with the Jewish community at large, which is what prompted me to make this video.
ISRAEL365 NEWS: I want to point out to our listeners, many of whom already know this, I actually was what you would call a ‘settler’ for about 15 years. I lived in Gush Etzion, about halfway between Jerusalem and Hebron, and it it often horrified me how misrepresented we were. And it’s really just a matter of getting to know the people listening to them. And that will quite often reveal the truth. So you chose to make this movie you chose to make this movie personal. Why did you interview person after person? You didn’t just interview experts. You interviewed business people who worked with Arabs. And you also went into people’s homes. Why did you choose that approach?
ROGER WALTERS: I think because of the fact that I knew these people personally over a period of years, and they became friends. I didn’t select them to be because they’re nice guys. To be honest, I don’t know any settlers who aren’t nice guys. So it was just a personal thing, a personal crusade of mine. I didn’t raise any money from other people to do this. It was something that came from my heart, and I just felt that I needed to share this; share the experience of meeting people in their homes. This all helps the diaspora understand that these are regular people, just like you and me.
ISRAEL365 NEWS: There’s a central problem with terminology. Could you explain to me what a settler is?
ROGER WALTERS: Well, that’s a very good question. I don’t like this term, ‘settler.’ In this context, it is intended as a derogatory term, which implies that these people have stolen this land and have no right to be there. And in fact, the term settler is incorrect. Unfortunately, the Israeli government adopts the term and talks about settlements and settlers quite a lot. In every other context, a settler is somebody who goes to a pasture or unoccupied land and decides to stake a stake in it like they did in the United States two hundred years ago. My definition of being a settler is going to land that no one has ever lived on or cultivated and settling it. It’s very simple. It doesn’t have a negative connotation when describing any other people in the world. It is, in fact, antisemitic to describe an Israeli as a settler in the pejorative.”
“And the definition is misused even in that regard. Sderot, which was part of Israel in 1947, is described as a settlement. I have even heard Tel Aviv described as a settlement. And far too often, the news describes the victims of terrorism as settlers without any basis.”
ISRAEL 365 NEWS: The news is so politically biased that documentaries like the one you were doing are so incredibly necessary, just to dispel the myths and lies, to show some of the truths that are actually there, hidden in plain sight. So I also noticed that you called it a documentary, and I think that’s incredibly accurate in that you didn’t just show the settlers. You also showed the Arabs who work with them, alongside the Jews, because that is the reality when you live in Yehudah and Shomron. I’ve been in Israel since 1991, and we had real coexistence.
ROGER WALTERS: The Oslo Accords stopped that. It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to the Middle East. Everybody I spoke to, including every Palestinian that was old enough to remember, thinks about the coexistence with a warm heart. It was people living together. People used to travel down to Gaza to the mechanics to get their cars fixed. I even went to the beach in Gaza in 1967. So way before the Oslo Accords, coexistence was just commonplace. With Arafat, it was complete deceit that he carried out against America and Israel and even against other Arab countries. This is the cause of the position that everybody’s in today, frankly.”
ISRAEL365 NEWS: Your film shows Arabs working in Israeli-owned businesses, but it also shows them literally working side-by-side. But you had to blur them out?
ROGER WALTERS: Well, because they were saying in many instances that if they had a choice between a one-state, two-state solution, they’d rather live in a one-state solution under Jews, working with Jews. They prefer this to a two-state solution where they’d have a despotic non-democratic government, an Islamist regime telling them how to lead their lives, murdering homosexuals, or whatever else they could do. So we have to blur their faces because they would have been attacked by the Palestinians in power..
ISRAEL365 NEWS: You say you had a background in Israel. Did making this movie changed your views in any way?
ROGER WALTERS: To be frank, making the movie enhanced my views. My views basically became more entrenched in issues like the fact that this country is legitimate, that the ‘disputed territories’ are legitimately or settled. And that the people in Judea and Samaria are intrinsically good, generous, caring people who, as a whole, feel extremely sorry for the Palestinian people. Even, to some degree, for a terrorist. It’s understood that he wasn’t born a terrorist. He became one.”
“There’s all these NGOs who say they care about the Palestinians. But they don’t. They are just here to demonize Israel. They’re not doing the Palestinian cause any good at all and they are actually harming the Palestinians.”
“I feel that we need to get this message across from the settlers that we interviewed that they have love for their Arab neighbors. They can’t talk better of them, quite frankly.”
ISRAEL365 NEWS: Did you ever feel unsafe traveling around Judea and Samaria?
ROGER WALTERS: Never, to be frank. I mean, obviously, we had a good driver. But we didn’t have a security guard with us. We felt very safe. Having said that, in hindsight, we traveled to the same place where the Dees, the mother and the two daughters, got murdered a few weeks ago. And we went to Hawara where four people got killed.
“So, having said that, it was very peaceful. Everything was extremely calm. As I said, the Palestinians had no animosity.”
ISRAEL365 NEWS: The pity of it is that we’re talking about the biblical heartland. So many people who are drawn to the Bible come to Israel to witness the Bible. If they only go to Jerusalem, they’re missing most of the Bible. If they go to Tel Aviv, they’re missing all of the Bible. 80% of the Bible happened in Judea and Samaria, and if you want to experience and walk the Bible, then you have to come here. One last question, if I may. So, coming from the inside and having this really powerful insight, what’s the solution?
ROGER WALTERS: I’d love to say I know the solution. I cannot see there ever being a two-state solution. because I can’t ever see the Arabs being democratic enough to run this place and for Israel to be secure at the same time. I wish I could say that there would be one state where the Arabs would lay down their arms and they would embrace the Jews, and they would be able to vote the same as Israeli Arabs are able to vote today. I would hope that the Jewish people could out-populate those Arabs that are living there. I can’t see the status quo, staying for another 75 years this way. The terrorist groups are basically arming up.
“I wish I was a soothsayer, and I could say that a one-state solution is the only answer. It is an answer, but a lot of people have to change. We need the average Palestinian to step up and say that they love to live in an Israeli state.
“Hopefully, the Abraham Accords will lead the way. We need the big Arab countries to tell the Palestinians to toe the line. But unfortunately, we have this huge Iranian influence over the Palestinians. We need a regime change in Iran.”
The film can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.