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MAY 17, 2011 2:52PM

"Budrus" – A peaceful protest in Palestine

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Last week, Budrus, an award winning documentary by Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha, was released on DVD.  It is an inspiring film about a small Palestinian village (Budrus) that was about to face economic ruin due to the removal of their olive trees by the Israeli military to make room for Israel’s Separation Barrier.  As noted in The Jewish Daily Forward:

“The documentary, which has won plaudits on the film festival circuit, depicts a mostly nonviolent series of protests against the separation barrier that Israel has set in place between its citizens and West Bank Palestinians. The long trail of fences and walls was built in response to the second intifada, an extended campaign of suicide bombings against civilians by Palestinian terrorist groups. But the ostensible security barrier often deviates from the internationally recognized Green Line that separates Israel from the occupied territory to go deep into the West Bank, taking in acres of Palestinian land, and sometimes separating villagers from their own fields, groves and farms. 

The film depicts one village’s protest against this expropriation in 2003 and 2004 by a coalition that included members of Fatah and Hamas, as well as Israeli Jews and international supporters. Due to their protests, the route of the barrier around Budrus was eventually changed to hew closer to the pre-1967 borders.” 

The film documents the actions of Ayed Morrar, a Palestinian community organizer, as he unites Palestinian political factions along with Israeli supporters to stop the destruction of his village.  Morrar’s fifteen year old daughter, Iltezam, proves to be instrumental in this effort by launching a women’s contingent to the nonviolent protest. 

Produced and directed by Julia Bacha through Just Vision, a nonprofit media organization focusing on nonviolent solutions to the Palestinian crisis, Budrus has helped awaken the world’s interest in the peace process.  Ms Bacha says, “We are providing alternative role models in a complex and changing world. I have seen people challenged, inspired and motivated to take action based on the stories we tell."    

Frost Over the World had an interesting interview with Julia Bacha last year:

Today, tensions could not be higher in the Middle East with The Arab Spring changing the socio-political landscape of the region.  The Israel-Palestinian peace process appears to be stalled, highlighted by last week’s resignation of George Mitchell as U.S. Mideast Envoy.  Furthermore, the recent violence surrounding demonstrations marking the anniversary of Nakba Day has increased the tension level.  “Nakba”, an Arab word meaning “catastrophe,” is used by Palestinians to describe the May 15, 1948 establishment of the State of Israel and the resultant displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.  As Juan Cole points out in his article entitled “The Arab Spring comes to Israel:” 

What was driving the Palestinian protests is desperation and a state of statelessness, of being in limbo, of having no rights, no property, no prospects, living within sight of their former home, gazing at it from foreign countries that happen also to speak Arabic but which treat them as aliens or (as in Jordan) second-class citizens.”          

Bacha's film has provided a welcome awakening to those who have lost faith in the Mideast peace process.  Unfortunately, however, Budrus is just a small island of hope in a vast sea of uncertainty.

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let us hope that where their is life, and film, there is hope, cool post.
This documentary sounds powerful. Look forward to watching it. Thanks for sharing this post.
Two comments, one to correct a small error of fact and the second to point out an issue that should not go unremarked.

First, the number of Palestinians that were displaced, for whatever cause, in 1947 was about 750,000 and about equal to the number of Jews that were evicted from the surrounding Arab countries often using Israel as the destination.

Second, the Palestinians have been used by the Arab countries to maintain tension in the Middle East.By keeping the refugees in camps, refusing them the opportunity to make a new life - even when the refugees represented a tiny portion of the existing Arab populations - they deflected attention away from the generally oppressive ways those countries treated their own populace.

Note that when a non violent approach was used, the Israelis, even in the middle of this undeclared war, did change, did bend. Non-violence and the promise of peace does work.
Very good point Traveler. I corrected the post to say "hundreds of thousands."
Traveler,

Your second point is one that has made it difficult for morally-concerned people throughout the world to accept the current conditions in the Israel-Palestinian crisis. You said:

“The Palestinians have been used by the Arab countries to maintain tension in the Middle East.By (sic) keeping the refugees in camps, refusing them the opportunity to make a new life - even when the refugees represented a tiny portion of the existing Arab populations - they deflected attention away from the generally oppressive ways those countries treated their own populace.”

The important point for you to consider is that these refugees did not want to be in these refugee camps in the first place. They wanted to go home to their ancestral place in what is now called Israel. As Juan Cole pointed out in my linked post:

”What was driving the Palestinian protests is desperation and a state of statelessness, of being in limbo, of having no rights, no property, no prospects, living within sight of their former home, gazing at it from foreign countries that happen also to speak Arabic but which treat them as aliens or (as in Jordan) second-class citizens.”

You can talk all you want about how the Israeli government “did bend” when faced with peaceful opposition, but in reality nothing of substance has happened as a result of this “bending.”

I don’t know where you live, but let’s assume that you are from New York and you were forced to leave your home to live in a refugee camp in Alabama. The people in Alabama hate you. Is that the fault of the Alabamans? Of course not. You want to go home to your ancestral home in New York.

This is what “all” of the Palestinian refugees are hoping for.

Going Home!
I look forward to seeing this film.

The dirty secret in Palestine is that there are peaceful demonstrations almost daily by the Palestinians against the illegal Israeli occupation. They are met with violence by the Israelis and are ignored by Western media. If Gandhi were in Palestine today, nobody would know and the IDF would fire tear gas canisters at him.
Steven,

You have insisted on simplifying a complex situation as if a single empathic phrase can actually really stand for the truth. It does not. The Palestinian 'situation' is not the result of a simple act but that continuing agony that has been caused by bad acts by many players, including those parties within the Palestinian camps themselves.

Without getting into a long discussion that most parties on OS are deaf to, my opinion is that the only way for the Palestinian people to get relief is for their own governing groups first to recognize the right of Israel to exist. After that recognition, then the path is clear for nationhood and peace. If Israel is faced with a coalition that publicly declares that its aim is the destruction of Israel, what possible reason is there for Israel to bend at all? If the Palestinian coalition cannot even go so far as a policy conciliation, why should Israel make any actual changes?

Blather about evil Israel, etc. just doesn't mean anything if you can't answer that question.
Another point.

"They wanted to go home to their ancestral place in what is now called Israel" This quote is misleading. A sizable percentage of the Palestinians were not native; they were in fact relatively recent immigrants from the 20's and 30's who came to find opportunity in the newly irrigated lands. For reference to this, I direct you to the British data on Palestine.
On the 'ancestral' point however, Sephardic Jews have lived in the ME since recorded history (the name 'Judea' ring a bell) and they were deeply embedded in the entire area, although as denoted second class citizens whose status was always in jeopardy. Both before and after 1947, the neighboring Arab countries, expelled all their Jewish citizens, often into Israel, the price of safe passage usually being all their possessions. Have you stopped to think why the Arab countries could not gratefully support immigrants that would be a tiny fraction of their country's population while Israel could absorb an increase of almost 30% in poor refugees? Have you considered why Jordan, a Palestinian state, would not accept refugees of their own supposed landsmen?
Traveler - Which Israel would you like the Palestinians to recognize? The 1948 borders? The 1967 borders. Today's borders. Or the ever expanding borders of tomorrow.

The Palestinian 'situation' is the result of the illegal and immoral occupation and land theft by the Israelis.

I agree, the path is clear for nationhood and peace. It is called a one state solution where everyone has equal rights.
Ah Alaska Progressive,

Always unerringly choosing pandering hand-waving bullshit over sense.

If you had a neighbor who hated you and declared his intent, if given the opportunity, to burn your house down, would you invite him into a communal living relationship?
Traveler is a real Naqba denier.

Kept in camps because they were displaced from their lands by the Israelis. The Arabs did not displace them. Their lands, homes and properties were confiscated and occupied by Israelis. It's that simple. All the other chatter is distraction.

It is precisely what the Europeans used to do to the Jews when they took their properties and moved them into ghettoes. There is nothing to discuss. It was an occupation, ethnic cleansing and a crime. Now, justify that if you can. I don't care about all the wrongs and the the mythology of the Bible.
Tilapia,

Just shaking one's fist and yelling injustice is not as effective as actually knowing the facts.
Read a bit more of the actual history, rather than just the propaganda, and you will see that the situation is not nearly as clear cut as you'd like.
Look at KosherSalaami's posts on the situation and you will see that respondents here rarely deal with facts but only blather about their own preconceived notions. In point of fact, his posts are rarely, if ever, even challenged by factual assertions.