I first saw the Palestinian film “Five Broken Cameras” in 2012 and wrote about it last year when it was up for an Oscar. My earlier post is here.
Tonight there was a free screening of the film at the Friends meetinghouse in Albuquerque. I wasn’t going to attend. I’ve seen it once. What more could I get out of it the second time around? But I wanted to encourage my friends to see it and decided to go to support the organizers. I was curious to see who would show up.
A good size crowd (35-40) but nearly everyone had gray hair. Not sure how many in the audience were Quakers and how many were visitors, but I always worry when I see an audience where the average age is 65.
This second time around, my focus was drawn to the Israeli soldiers and how they were responding to the peaceful protesters. Week after week after week. Every Friday for five years and counting. Why? What type of training are these soldiers receiving and what orders are they hearing when they respond to unarmed men, women and children with tear gas and rubber bullets? And why is the U.S. taxpayer supporting this, to the tune of $3 billion each year?
Do leaders in Israel and the U.S. really believe bullets and armor tanks are any match against protesters who are peaceful, nonviolent, and who are determined not to be bullied off of their land? It’s no match.
The Israeli soldiers may know how to uproot centuries-old olive trees but they haven’t a clue how to uproot these Palestinians in the village of Bi’lin.
The film was difficult to watch in spots. Following the screening, an audience member stood up and showed us some of the spent tear gas grenades and other projectiles that he had picked up off the ground during a visit to Bi’lin. He shared some of his observations of the Israeli military in a factual and dispassionate manner, but he elicited a vociferous response from a woman who took offense at his “one-sided” presentation. He said he was only sharing the side that the U.S. media fails to share and most Americans don’t know.
I listened carefully as the moderator redirected her outburst and tried to hear her “side” but she didn’t share another side. Although she appeared angry and disturbed, she was actually agreeing with the points made by the gentleman. I suspect that her anger was genuine but misdirected. Maybe upon some quiet reflection, she will realize that her anger can be channeled towards some positive actions, such as the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.