Tag Archives: Palestine

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Suheir Hammad

By Andrea Plaid

Since it’s National Poetry Month, let’s talk about one of my favorite poets: Suheir Hammad.

Of course, Hammad speaks quite a few women of color’s truth with her classic piece, “Not Your Erotic, Not Your Exotic”:

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Sundance Exclusive: Interview with Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi of 5 Broken Cameras

Co-directed by Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat and Israeli activist Guy Davidi, the images in 5 Broken Cameras are beautiful, haunting, and bring about dozens of other questions about the history of the occupation and the tactics around love and resistance. Thanks to their fabulous publicist Eseel, I got to interview Guy and Emad and ask them about their lives, their work, and what they think the future holds for Israel and Palestine.

What was the experience like, creating this film out of the footage?

Emad: It has been a sometimes good experience, a sometimes bad experience. In 2005, when I started to resist with my village, I decided to film to protect myself and to protect the other protests and to show the footage for other people, and to use the footage sometime to prove what is going on. Over the last seven years, [I documented] how what happened in the village affected me, my family, my children, and my friends, week by week. After many years of documenting, I thought that there was a huge story that I have to tell to other people. We decided to construct a documentary from my personal life and personal story. [5 Broken Cameras] is not a political film or just a film about conflict – it’s a film about life, and how the people can survive and how people live, and how kids grow up. For my kids, everyone loves those boys, and I wanted to make for them a good life, I wanted to take care of them, and protect them. I can’t tie them in the house every day, keep them 24 hours in one room. This is our life, like this. I tried to build for them a good life and a good situation. And I wanted to put my life and my experience in the village in one documentary.

Maybe [other people, in other parts of the world] see footage on the news, but they don’t know the reality and they don’t know the life of these people. I hope that this film does make some change, so we can change the life for everyone – in Palestine and Israel.

Guy, how did you get involved in the film?

Guy: I came to Bil’in in early 2005, one of the first Israeli peace activists that came. I was already interested in what was happening in this movement, I wanted be a part of it. My first main motivation is a bit selfish, it wasn’t just to help the movement – it was also for me. Israel is like a ghetto – it is closed, like a bubble, not sensitive to the others. You’re not allowed to go here, not allowed to go there – so I wanted to break that. I wanted to live in a free way. If we live in a free way, we have to confront the shadows – and what happens in the shadow is in Palestine and the settlements.

So I met Emad. He was a very known character from the start, because he was the only cameraman who was basically staying in the village all the time. He became what we say in the film, “the village’s eye.” So we met many times while filming. We didn’t work together until 2009, when Emad approached me to make the film, so we decided to make it as a personal narrative. When I thought in the beginning to make a film on Bil’in, there were many that were similar. We had to have a new and refreshing take and I was happy to find out in the material that we could tell the story in this very intimate and personal way. You could see in the world both the context of the movement and the occupation, and you can have a really intimate family moments.

One of the moments that is the most striking to me in the film are the images of people moving into the settlements that are causing all this conflict. Why is this still happening?

Guy: First we have to know that there are many kinds of settlements and many kinds of settlers. It is the Israeli machine that is making it move. These are not necessarily ideological settlers going because they want to conquer the land or wipe out Palestinians. They just want to improve their lives. The government is subsidizing the apartments in the West Bank, and using [the people's] financial circumstances to move an agenda forward. Some settlers don’t know what is going on – the way Israel is designed, you can travel through parts and not really know where you are. Some settlers do know what’s going on and don’t care. And then you have a very small minority, a violent minority, the fundamentalist Jews that are creating terror in Palestine. They are small, but noisy and strong. If Israel would like to change its ways, they will have to find a way to root out the fundamentalists, to pull the weeds. Continue reading

Sundance Pick: 5 Broken Cameras

Trailer “5 Broken Cameras” from Guy Davidi on Vimeo.

 

“By healing, you resist oppression. – Emad Burnat”

5 Broken Cameras is a story of living in the shadow of oppression, a moving portrait of vibrant resistance through the unapologetic embrace of life itself. Set in the small Palestinian village of Bil’in, the story and narrative belongs to Emad Burnat, who became the eye of the village and ultimately chronicled over five years of activism. The people of Bil’in found their lands being encroached on by the building of a new settlement, and the wall to protect that settlement. They protest peacefully, marching up to the wall each Friday and thinking of new actions and demonstrations to stop the advancement of the settlement.

During this time, Emad also had a son, Gibreel, which brought his total brood to four. Emad mentions that each of the boys knows a slightly different world. The eldest was born during the Olso Accords which meant that he grew up with more freedom and mobility. Gibreel, on the other hand, mixes his first words of “mommy” and “daddy” with “army,” “cartridge” and “run! run!” If it weren’t for the ever present undercurrent of violence, Emad’s life would almost be seen as idyllic: a loving family; a large, involved village; numerous dances and celebrations are cornerstones of the life they create. Their marches are also full of hope and some humor. At one point, tired of the late night raids on the village, a group of children march up to the wall, chanting “We want to sleep! We want to sleep!” The situation in Bil’in gained international attention, and groups of Israeli, German, and other activists come at various points to show their support and solidarity. However, violence is never far enough away, and the promise of more hangs over Bil’in like a cloud. Continue reading

Quoted: Electronic Infitada On The Irvine 11

The conviction of the Irvine 11 is a testament to the degree that Islamophobia has grown in the West. Moreover, it is a testament to how unwilling the United States has become to question its relationship with Israel. Any means can be used to silence such questioning — even the criminalization of free speech.

The Israel lobby and the US government are working hand-in-hand against efforts to raise awareness about the occupation and human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians. This trial, the FBI raids on Palestine solidarity activists in the Midwest and the undermining of the UN Palestinian statehood bid show it.

What are the implications of the conviction of the Irvine 11 for Palestine solidarity student activists? One can only imagine the worries that now must run through the minds of these young students: Will I be seen as a criminal? Will the Israeli authorities deny me entry to Palestine next year due to my activism, when a cursory Google search can easily show that connection? Am I jeopardizing my future job opportunities as a result of my activism? Am I being, or am I going to be, investigated or targeted by the FBI?

One must keep in mind that these students now living in fear are Americans. Their intentions and passion for social justice is an American value. Yet student activists are now vulnerable to being criminalized This fear of criminalization may even echo into social justice movements which have yet to form, so essentially what the Irvine 11 conviction represents is a campaign to instill fear in anyone seeking to challenge the status quo in American politics.

- From “Why the Irvine 11 Are True American Heroes,” by Sanah Yassin

Open Thread: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla

by Latoya Peterson

On Memorial Day, twitter was abuzz with news about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and what happened.  Mainstream media, not so much.

Here’s a quick run down for those not familiar with the chain of events.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is a part of the Free Gaza movement.  The boat trips were designed as an act of international civil disobedience to challenge the State of Israel’s blockade which prevents ship travel into Gaza.  According to the Free Gaza’s “A Simple Idea” section:

The Free Gaza Movement began in the Fall of 2006 with a simple idea: Instead of waiting for the world to act, we would sail to Gaza ourselves, and directly challenge the Israeli siege ourselves. For almost two years, Free Gaza activists in Australia, Britain, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United States worked to raise money, locate ships and crew, and train and organize for our first attempt to break through Israel’s blockade. By August 2008 we were ready, and we sailed to Gaza in two, small, wooden fishing boats: the FREE GAZA and the LIBERTY.

The Free Gaza & The Liberty, in Larnaca Port (August 2008)Since then we have continued to sail to besieged Gaza, bringing in human rights workers and lawyers, journalists, academics, and parliamentarians, as well as several tons of desperately needed humanitarian aid. We are students and teachers, human rights observers and aid workers, lawyers, medics, activists – parents and grandparents. We are of all ages and backgrounds, from countries all across the world. We will go to Gaza again and again and again. We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and direct action.

We will continue to challenge Israel’s illegal closure of the Gaza Strip and collective punishment of its civilian population until the Israeli siege is forever broken and the people of Gaza have free access to the rest of the world.

The Guardian has posted a Q & A about the flotilla, which reads:

What was the aim of the Gaza Freedom flotilla?

The Free Gaza movement says it was intended to deliver aid to Gaza to get around the Israeli blockade and “to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation”. The movement is an international coalition of pro-Palestinian human rights organisations and activists. It has been endorsed by Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky and counts on the support of a number of Jewish groups that campaign for the rights of Palestinians.

Israel‘s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, said: “The armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organisation was a premeditated and outrageous provocation. The organisers are well-known for their ties to global Jihad, al-Qaida and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror. On board the ship we found weapons that were prepared in advance and used against our forces. The organisers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.”

Israel has singled out the Turkish-based Insani Yardim Vakfi or IHH (“humanitarian relief fund”) as a radical Islamic organisation.

The boat was filled with both aid and an international group of activists, many of whom had protested directly on the ground in Gaza or had joined the 2008 flotillas.

On Sunday night, Israel made the decision to storm the vessel, with lethal results. Continue reading

Last Minute Links Before the New Year

by Latoya Peterson

Alright people, we are officially on vacation, starting now. Comment moderation will be spotty until January 4th, when we resume regular schedule. Until then, a couple things to mull over.

Nisha over at Politicoholic mentioned the Twitter based campaign to remember Gaza on December 27th.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli military raid on Gaza. Gaza, one of the two Palestinian territories currently under Israeli occupation.

I know Gaza is not a topic of polite cocktail party or happy hour conversation for most people. Most people probably aren’t quite aware of where Gaza is (here is a map for that), especially since it’s a tiny territory that’s only about 139 square miles on the coast of the Mediterranean.

So it is probably not widely known that one year ago, Israeli military forces killed 1,400 Palestinians, of which over 900 were civilians and over 300 were children. And considerable damage was done to Gazan roads, houses, and infrastructure — most of which has still not been repaired. [...]

Buoyed by the success of the Iran election activists, who tweeted their observations about the controversial Iranian election and subsequent protests using the hashtag #iranelection, and capured the world’s attention — now Palestinian activists are hoping to start a movement of their own using Twitter as their primary tool of communication.

Their hashtag is #gaza, and today, December 27, from 3 pm – 7 pm GMT, they are encouraging everyone they know to tweet using the hashtag #gaza in the hopes of making Gaza the #1 trending topic on Twitter — which is no easy feat, given the millions of people using Twitter everyday.

But that didn’t quite happen. Last night, Global Voices posted a report by Anton Issa, explaining how the campaign did not go as planned:

Twitter has been accused of attempting to silence tributes to Gaza one-year after an Israeli onslaught devastated the Palestinian enclave.

Pro-Palestinian and human rights activists used the influential Twitter portal to mark the one-year anniversary of the Gaza War, and express support for the besieged territory.

Tweets using the hashtag #Gaza flooded in on December 27th, peaking at number 3 on Twitter’s top ten Trending Topics list.

However, complaints emerged of users being briefly blocked from tweeting #Gaza, with the trend being forced downwards and off the Trending Topics.

Bloggers all over the world speculated about why this happened. According to Issa, some thought that it was Twitter editors suppressing the topic, others thought that pro-Zionist activists were reporting the tweets as spam, others thought it was due to Twitter’s algorithms balancing the discussions differently. However, it does shed some light on the issues with using New Media to organize – I’ll expand on this a little more in the New Year. Continue reading

Sundance Interview: Cherien Dabis, Director of Amreeka

by Guest Contributor Melissa Silverstein, orginally published at Women and Hollywood

Cherien Dabis is having one of those dreamlike weeks. She was named one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2009, and her film Amreeka had its world premiere at Sundance this past weekend to a standing ovation and positive reviews. Now all she needs to do it sell the film and get an agent.

Not being in Sundance, I haven’t seen the film but if I were there, it would been tops on my list. Here’s the description from the catalog:

Director Cherien Dabis’s auspicious debut feature, Amreeka, is a warm and lighthearted film about one Palestinian family’s tumultuous journey into Diaspora amidst the cultural fallout of America’s war in Iraq. Muna Farah, a Palestinian single mom, struggles to maintain her optimistic spirit in the daily grind of intimidating West Bank checkpoints, the constant nagging of a controlling mother, and the haunting shadows of a failed marriage. Everything changes one day when she receives a letter informing her that her family has been granted a U.S. green card. Reluctant to leave her homeland, but realizing it may be the only way to secure a future for Fadi, her teenage son, Muna decides to quit her job at the bank and visit her relatives in Illinois to see about a new life in a land that gives newcomers a run for their money.Dabis weaves an abundance of humor and levity into this tale of struggle, displacement, and nostalgia and draws an absorbing and irresistibly charming performance from actress Nisreen Faour as Muna, who stands at the heart of this tale. Amreeka glows with the truth and magic of everyday life and signals the arrival of an exciting, new directorial talent.

She took a couple of minutes to discuss the film and her Sundance experience.

Women & Hollywood: What made you want to make this film?

Cherien Dabis: The story is quite personal, inspired by my family and loosely based on true events. I grew up in a small town in Ohio of about 10,000 people. I actually grew up between Ohio and Jordan but most of my time was spent in this small town where as Arab Americans we were isolated because there was no Arab community and not a whole lot of diversity. For a while everything was fine and we fit in relatively well until the first Gulf War when my family was scapegoated and overnight we virtually became the enemy. All kinds of absurd things happened. My father who is a physician lost a lot of his patients because they wouldn’t support an Arab doctor and then it came to a head when the Secret Service came to my high school to investigate a rumor that my 17 year old sister threatened to kill the president.

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The IFC Media Project: Digging for the Truth About Israel/Palestine

by Latoya Peterson

So, I’ve noticed that a few readers have asked why Racialicious has been so quiet on the situation in Gaza. As the violence continues to escalate, it is hard to not post about what is happening.

However, as much as it troubles me to remain silent, it troubles me more to see the responses that the posts on Israel and Palestine receive. Generally, they are met with silence from normally chatty and informed commenters while the same six people rehash their opinions on thread after thread.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why this occurs. Why are so many people reluctant to discuss what is happening in Israel and Palestine?

Perhaps, they are too intimidated.

After all, this conflict is rich and multilayered, and most people new to the discussion exhaust their knowledge base within the first few minutes, lapsing into silence while those with the longest memories tend to dominate the conversation. However, I do not believe this is a worthwhile tactic – while those in the know debate strategies and bring up failed resolutions and broken promises, the majority of the people blink and begin to disengage. There is too much information. The opposing sides are ruthless in their arguments. And most tend to watch the conversation dispassionately, or click away.

On this blog, we try to break down social issues using a more human aspect to explain points of global policy or racial theory. But that has not been working. So it occurs to me that there may be a fundamental lack of information about the origins of the conflict and what is at stake. So, the question becomes how do we get more people this information in a way that they will find it accessible?

When I tuned in to the first episode of the IFC Media project, I didn’t know what to expect. I know I didn’t expect Gideon Yago to go off on a tangent about “missing white girls” dominating the news, or to see IFC clearly tackle race-based reporting bias.

And I didn’t expect the program to send someone to track down the issues involved in talking about Israel. Continue reading