"The Optimists" is the story of a small community living in a kibbutz in the desert in Israel, representing an alternative path to that of current Israeli society. This is a story of continuing struggles, dilemmas, out of the box thinking, and wonder.
The decision to produce the film was sparked by the decision of a Palestinian Chemist Dr. Tariq Abu Hammad to leave the East Jerusalem village in which he resides, and relocate with his family to Kibbutz Ketura in the southern Arava, in order to become the Academic Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The Arava Institute was founded 20 years ago on Kibbutz Ketura in order to advance cross-border environmental cooperation by bringing together Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and others in an academic program which teaches that “nature knows no borders”. The decision to produce the film became final when we learned that the kibbutz is starting a process in which they want to promote the building of an Arab settlement next to the Kibbutz. They explain the move as the right interpretation of the Declaration of Independence of Israel.
Kibbutz Ketura was founded in 1973 by a group of pioneers from Young Judea in the US (a Zionist youth movement affiliates with Hadassah) who made Aliya and settled in the desert. Until today they maintain the spirit and structure of a collective community (only 20% of Israel's kibbutzim have remained collective). In the documentary, we examine how the kibbutz funds its social imperatives, and how it manages to maintain the essence of kibbutz life and mutual support. We focus on a few key figures on the kibbutz and in the Arava Institute whose narratives shed light on the different aspects of kibbutz life – the founders, the second generation, the business people who run the businesses of the Kibbutz, the new immigrants, and the religious and non-religions members of the kibbutz. We go into the reasons that have made Ketura a model, throughout the Jewish world, of religious tolerance and acceptance of the other and a center of business entrepreneurship, and ask whether the kibbutz is trying to transform Israeli society and evaluate its chances of doing so.
The question that hovers over the movie is whether the optimism that drives few individuals and a small kibbutz can survive in Israel of 2018, not just economically but also morally and socially. The underline message of this movie is that the optimistic powers in the field are much stronger than what has been projected on the 8 o'clock news and they will prevail against all odds.
The Optimists – Director – Eliezer Yaari. Producer – Irit Ambar Editor – Hila Haramati, Original Music – Shay Alon