Palestinian-Israeli TV show, far from reality?

Palestinians and Israelis are at the negotiation table yet again. But this time it's in a TV studio. In a new small-screen documentary, producer Mohammad Oulad Mohaned, will try to mend the longtime Middle East conflict his way - through reality TV.
By SABAH AYOUB (Al Akhbar)
© Jiho - France/Al-Akbar

BEIRUT, February 18, 2009 (AL-AKHBAR) -  Twelve young Palestinians and Israelis will come together for one month this spring in order to reach a peace agreement, but not as a result of the United Nations reaching agreement on a two-state solution or because an agreement between Hamas and the Israelis has been reached.

These 12 young people will come together for  a reality TV show by a French- Moroccan producer and director Mohammad Oulad Mouhaned.

The idea was to gather six Palestinians and six Israelis in a villa in southern France with the aim of working through a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

While the cameras will not be on the entire time, the show will document the daily activities and interactions of the participants.

Oulad, 43, has garnered several awards in his film career, including a total of 15 international awards for a series of movie shorts he directed. He also has the added influence of being married to the daughter of former French president François Mitterand.

A new Romeo and Juliet?

Of course a solution to peace between Palestinians and Israelis on a reality TV show inevitably gives rise to a number of questions, not the least whether it will be able to capture the reality of the complex political situation in the Palestinian Territories and Israel.

Another question for TV viewers is whether they will see the relationship that exists in the Palestinian Territories - namely that Israel is the occupier and the Palestinians are the occupied in what is the Middle-Easts most intractable conflict. 

When asked about these very questions, Oulad told the French newspaper Liberation, “I try to fix things my way in the Middle East."

He added, “I want the youth to reach a clear agreement on how to live together on the same land, and face the responsibility of this agreement. Maybe we will witness a new Romeo and Juliet love story.”

Lab rats

Two channels are currently competing to broadcast the show, French TF1 and French- German Arte. But what if the participants fail in reaching an agreement?

According to Oulad, "This is a possibility, but it would be a sign of desperation."

Although the show has yet to air, early skeptics of the show have said in the French press they are worried that the Palestinians will be used as "lab rats" compelled to choose “cohabitation,” while their basic rights are denied in the Palestinian Territories.

Of course, the potential solutions on this TV show are occurring in idyllic southern France, miles away from the real conflict.

This article was translated from the Arabic article published in the Lebanese Daily Al-Akhbar. To read the original click here.