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Invitation 30/9 – 2/10: Three award-winning films in Stellenbosch

Join PSC Stellenbosch for three great movies on Palestine-Israel followed by a  short discussion after each screening.

Palestinians, Israelis, Jewish South Africans and Americans produced these three award-winning films:

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Five Broken Cameras: Monday 30 September, Pulp Cinema, Neelsie Student Centre, De Beers Street, Stellenbosch. (Nominated as Best Foreign Film for 2013 Oscar Awards.)

Occupation 101: Tuesday 1 October, Arts Building, Room 225, Corner of Ryneveld and Merriman Streets, Stellenbosch. (Winner of several awards as best documentary.)

The Village under the Forest: Wednesday 2 October, Pulp Cinema, Neelsie Student Centre, De Beers Street, Stellenbosch. (Audience Award for Best South African film in 2013 at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.)

  • Tea and cake will be served at 18:00 and the screenings start at 18:30.
  • Tickets @ R20 will be sold at the entrance.

We as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Stellenbosch invite you and your friends and colleagues to all three screenings as we want to raise for public debate Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, its impact on the brutalisation of both Israelis and Palestinians, and Israel’s breaching of international law.

Our panelists include:

  • Monday: Father Austin Jackson and a Muslim scholar. Facilitator: Adli Peck.
  • Tuesday: the Honourable Mr HT Magama (Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation), Mr Nathan Geffen (past-Treasurer of the Treatment Action Campaign and now an investigative  journalist at Groundup). Facilitator: Dr Paul Hendler.
  • Wednesday: Mark Kaplan (Director of the film) and Heidi Grunebaum (author, screen writer and narrator in the film). Facilitator: Rev Edwin Arrison, Kairos Southern Africa.

PSC Stellenbosch does not take sides between countries, ethnic groups, and religions, and we stand for equality between genders and sexual preference groups – we are unequivocally against the oppression of a people and the violation of the international human rights laws. In this context we advocate for the ending of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, for a just peace and thereby for the dignity and freedom of all the people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Why these films?

The Occupation is often portrayed as a complex conflict between equal parties – the Palestinians on the one side and the Israelis on the other. The mainstream media sometimes presents the conflict as having a religious dimension and this contributes to its seeming intractability. Perhaps you have the impression that the situation is too complicated for the conflict to be solved?

PSC Stellenbosch adopts an International Law and Human Rights perspective because there are clear guidelines under International Law, which help to clear the waters that have been muddied in this ‘debate’. We think that by having people look at all three films we are facilitating an awareness about the nature of the occupation as well as its status under international law.

With these points in mind – some background to the occupation and its breach of international law:

International law regards the Occupied Palestinian Territories  (OPT) under ‘belligerent occupation’, which is intended to be temporary.  However Israel has occupied the West Bank for 46 years and Gaza is still under siege.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (1965) provides the basis for, and the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (‘Apartheid Convention’) (1973) as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (‘Rome Statute’) (1998) define, apartheid as an international crime, not as it was practiced in South Africa, but as a system that:  1) denies people’s right to life and liberty; 2) imposes conditions to cause the physical destruction of a racial group; 3) implements measures to prevent a racial group from participating in the political/social/economic/cultural life of society; 4) divides the population along racial lines; 5) exploits  the labour of a particular racial group; and, 6) persecutes organisations and people opposing apartheid.

A 302 page HSRC (www.hsrc.ac.za) study of Israel’s policies found that Israel practices apartheid in the OPT through: a) Extra-judicial killings, torture and a separate legal system; b) Restrictions on the right of full development of Palestinians as a group such as those on their freedom of movement, place of residence, nationality, work, etc.); c) Impeding Palestinians’ education and running a segregated education system; and restricting Palestinians freedom of expression and opinion as well as their freedom of peaceful assembly; and, d) Dividing the West Bank into racial cantons, extensive appropriation of Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use, arresting, imprisoning, and banning the travel of Palestinians and also targeting Palestinian parliamentarians, national political leaders and human rights defenders.

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New Film Peels Layers of Truth: Invitation, Cape Town

You are invited to a screening of and conversation on The Village Under the Forest at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 8 April at Hiddingh Campus, UCT. It is part of St Georges Cathedral, District Six Museum and Michaelis School of Fine Arts series of conversations “Victim: No Resurrection?”

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I used to be convinced that I cannot direct reality and I was very sure that I was right.  Life happens…people fall ill and die, nature creates havoc and nations are at war. 

 

But how do we remember things? This is one of the questions a new documentary asks. What if we (as individuals and as humanity) are accountable for how we shape the past, the present and the future….and how we define “truth”? 

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A brilliant new film on Israel/Palestine offers so much more than excellent information from an intimate perspective. Besides winning the Audience Award for Best South African film in 2013 at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, the film leads perceptions on Israel-Palestine away from division and towards hope. 

It is the story of a South African Jewish woman told bravely and without trampling on the humanity of anyone.   I have seen many great films on Israel-Palestine, but this one offers a perspective we urgently need.  It is a film that should be seen by all South Africans, by all Jewish people, and by the international community.

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The Village Under the Forest is about making sense, and about finding meaning and a way forward.  It reflects inner strength and compels the viewer to ask his or her own questions.

On a symbolic level, we all walk through our own “forests” in life.  In this film, there is a real forest of trees – but not a natural one.  It is one that was deliberately planted to hide the remains of the Palestinian village of Lubya.  Lubya was one of the more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in 1948.

refugees near tulkarem, summer 1948

The purposefully cultivated plantation called South Africa Forest attempts to hide the past in the name of green ecology.  But now it is revealed for all to see.

The intimately personal perspective combined with scholarly input from Israelis raise questions on how we (as individuals and as members of a global society) deal with our own “forests” – and this one.

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In the words of Director and Emmy-winner Mark J Kaplan and the writer and narrator Heidi Grunebaum:

By using the forest and the village ruins as metaphors, the film explores themes related to the erasure and persistence of memory. Moreover, the film imagines a future in which dignity, acknowledgement and co-habitation become shared possibilities in Israel/Palestine.

View the trailer here.

According to BDS South Africa,

(t)he film also explores the role of the controversial Israeli-parastatal, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in building a forest (the “South Africa Forest“) over the Israeli-destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya. Israel and its supporters celebrates the JNF for its forest building work, however, human rights activists critisize the JNF for its involvement in the Israeli oppression and “ethnic-cleansing” against the indigenous Palestinian people, and specifically the construction of forests above Israeli-destroyed Palestinian villages in an attempt to erase all traces of Palestinian life. (See also the Mail&Guardian newspaper review).

After watching The Village Under The Forest, Ismail Coovadia, South Africa’s former ambassador to Israel, announced he will be returning the Jewish National Fund certificate he received and requesting that the trees the JNF planted in his name be removed. The story’s been covered all over the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Electronic Intifada.

 

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Can Five Broken Cameras heal many hearts?

“I kept thinking – how can I produce an emotionally charged film whilst maintaining a very gentle tone?”

This is what Guy Davidi, an Israeli film producer, asked himself.

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In 2012 the film “Five Broken Cameras” co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi became the most successful Palestinian-Israeli documentary ever. In January 2013 it won the World Cinema Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival and it was nominated for an Oscar as the best documentary feature film.

But is the world ready to see it?

The film shows the first years of life for Burnat’s baby against the backdrop of the Palestinian village Bil’in and how the local civilians resist the Israeli Wall which, together with Israeli settlers, are illegally on Palestinian land.

The thing is, the story of Emad Burnat’s family in Bil’in is not unique.  It is the story of just about every village in the West Bank of Palestine. Burnat simply filmed regular events as they unfolded.  He says that five of his cameras were smashed by the Israeli army as he documented friends and family members being shot and injured by Israeli troops.

Yet despite the acclaim and international awards, the film is not allowed in Israeli schools.  But the Israeli director in the team, Guy Davidi, finds different ways to show it to young Israelis.

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Those who watched it, said the film (and the story they did not know) changed their lives.  They ask:

“What are we to do now that we know?”

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The year 2013 is upon us.  Read the story behind the acclaimed film, watch the trailer and listen to what Israeli youth say after watching it:

Can Palestinian non-violent resistance make it into Israel’s education system?

For us who have already witnessed what happens in Palestine, what are we to do?

For me one thing is to talk about the Palestinians’ choice of non-violent resistance… and initiatives with them and with like-minded others such as my Jewish and Muslim friends and colleagues.  When the time is ready, I shall do so in future posts.

May we all have open hearts in the rest of 2013 – hearts that will not only receive, but also share blessings of goodwill and love.  May we co-discover ways to create a dignified peace.  And may this film remind us that all in the world deserve dignity.