Films can be a powerful catalyst for awakening change. Remember Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth“? I suspect many Americans were launched off their sofas to make a difference on climate change as a result.
I came to appreciate the hard work that goes into filmmaking when I spent several weeks this summer in a cabin in a remote part of northern New Mexico with filmmaker Maurice Jacobsen who was editing a new documentary about Gaza. A lot of work, patience and love go into every minute of a new film. Watch for Maurice’s new documentary to be released very shortly. Here’s a snippet. Then I received an invitation to attend and speak at the Freedom Film Fest in Malaysia. This is the 16th year of the annual fest, which showcases award-winning social justice and human rights films. Appropriately, the theme this year is a call to action to “Mend the Gap”, which draws its inspiration from the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which says that “no one should be left behind.”
The organizers of the film festival note that “despite progress in science, technology and democracy, the gaps between the rich and poor, the have and have nots, the powerful and the powerless are getting deeper and wider.” I might add that the gap between the occupier and the oppressed in Palestine is obscenely grotesque.
In 2012, the United Nations reported that Gaza may be unlivable by 2020. Israel’s seige and blockade of the Gaza Strip is deliberately stripping Palestinians of their dignity and their basic needs for survival. While Israelis have clean water, 24/7 electricity, and everything else we take for granted in a first world country, the Palestinians suffer 60%+ unemployment, 2 hours of electricity per day, no drinkable water unless they can afford to purchase bottled-water from Israel, and vanishing healthcare services. The gap between the occupier and the oppressed grows wider.
“Gaza has continued on its trajectory of de-development, in many cases even faster than we had originally projected,” said Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, in July 2017.
“When you’re down to two hours of power a day and you have 60 percent youth unemployment rates … that unlivability threshold has been passed quite a long time ago.”
Israel’s new “nation-state law” — adopted this summer — has formalized the ugly truth that has existed in Israel-Palestine since the 1948. The law does three big things:
- It states that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.”
- It establishes Hebrew as Israel’s official language, and downgrades Arabic — a language widely spoken by Arab Israelis — to a “special status.”
- It establishes “Jewish settlement as a national value” and mandates that the state “will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”
The gap between Jews and Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) has just been formalized into the basic laws of the State of Israel.
Perhaps the gap is nowhere better illustrated than at the fence between Israel and Gaza where the Palestinians have been protesting each Friday since March 30, demanding their human rights and their right to return to their homes and villages from which they were expelled in 1948. Israeli sharpshooters have killed at least 174 Palestinians and wounded more than 18,000 people participating in the Great March of Return, according to health officials in Gaza.
The gap between the best-equipped army in the Middle East, and the Palestinians throwing rocks resembles David and Goliath.
What can we do to mend these gaps?
- Educate ourselves about what’s really going on, on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank. Don’t rely on the mainstream media.
- Read about the injustices occurring in Palestine. The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights by Michael Sfard.
- Speak truth to power and speak up against injustices everywhere, including those perpetrated every single day in Palestine.