“The Devil’s Drivers” had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
It is ostensibly about the smuggling of Palestinian workers into Israel to work illegally primarily in construction sites under deplorable working conditions. No worker safety and always the subject to police raids. So who is benefitting from this cheap workforce…. Israeli’s!
Yet despite a fact a 500-mile wall that has been built by the Israelis around the Palestinian territory a narrow unwalled territory exists in Southern Palestine where illegal workers are smuggled into Israel by the Devil’s Drivers. It is a risky job and getting caught is a prison sentence which has increased dramatically as ISIS terrorists seek to use the Palestinian smugglers to gain entry into Israel. The increase in smugglers has also increased the network of informants.
Is there a profit motive for these smugglers or can they be called human traffickers like the Turks smuggling illegals into Greece from the Turkish coast? Well that’s a value judgement and perhaps a question if this documentary is a piece of Palestinian propaganda? What one can say this is a Palestinian skewed view but one flaw of the film never answered is Israel benefitting from cheap illegal Palestinian labour? Israeli surveillance is impeccable so why has “The Wall” not been completed in small section of Southern Palestine and why does such a supreme military power let thousands of Palestinians enter Israel to work illegally? An obvious question the documentary fails to address.
But putting this aside this is an exciting documentary as Palestinian drivers defy the odds and get illegals in Israel? To me it is a vital part of the economy of Israel that the military and political elite permit despite token crackdowns.
Whatever your view life in Palestine is tough with various Intifadas ruining the Palestinian infrastructure and way of life. Conditions are so bad there seems no choice for Palestinians but to head to the “Promised Land” to economically survive.
Sadly and suicidally, I say it looks like the Palestinians are walled in a semi concentration camp by those who escaped such conditions to form the state of Israel in 1949.
My view of the veracity of the film is that filmmakers Mohammed Abugeth (Palestine) and Daniel Carsenty (Israel) have presented a balanced view of the current mess in Israel and Palestine. I think any sane person will admit the only solution is an independent Palestine state which might have been a reality until shattered by the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995.
This documentary portrays the Palestinian view of history. What is missing is an Israeli counterpoint unless of course it so oppressive it does not deserve to be told.
As a journalist I can tell you I have been invited by the Israeli government to visit Israel twice. Once it was a personal commitment to a family wedding in Greece and then an administrative fuck up by the Israeli government that prevented an on-ground visit. I am missing an in-person experience on this but I will say this documentary is a jolting view of life in Palestine under occupation by Israel.
You can view virtually at https://www.tiff.net/events/the-devils-drivers
You can see the screener here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V70sCHjrMA