Ayed Morrar, the moral giant of Budrus

on 18 Comments

All 1500 residents are heroes in the documentary film Budrus, named for their West Bank Palestinian village, as are the international and Israeli solidarity activists who joined their nonviolent protests against the military occupation back in 2003-04. But one person stands out: Ayed Morrar, a thoughtful, quiet man who leads with calm courage and by example.

Ayed, now in his late 40s, has been in the Palestinian freedom struggle his entire life; he spent 6 years in Israeli prisons and another 3 on the run. He and his 4 brothers have not been able to all get together for years; at least one of them is always jailed or in hiding. His courageous and outspoken teenage daughter Iltezam, a future doctor, is also a convincing presence in the film.

Budrus is located near the “border” with Israel, and the so-called “security wall” was planned to amputate the village from some of its lands and uproot its ancient olive groves. (The film’s only real weakness is that it does not explain that so much of the separation wall is on Palestinian territory as part of further land-grabbing, not for “security;” you see Israeli colonies/settlements in the distance, but they are never explained.)

The filmmaker Julia Bacha shows us the courage of the villagers as they nonviolently confront heavily armed Israeli border police and yellow Caterpillar bulldozers – a perverse kind of product placement the American company’s publicity department is surely regretting. At first, the protesters are only men, but then Ayed’s daughter insists that women should also be allowed to join in. Then likeable internationalists and sympathetic Israelis also show up to help. In one memorable scene, a little boy, no more than 4 or 5 years old, is wearing a tee-shirt that reads BDS and smiling.

The film makes absolutely clear that without the outsiders, and the accompanying press coverage, the Israeli military would have been even more violent. In the end, the Israelis crack down anyway, using live ammunition against Palestinian teenagers who are throwing stones despite Ayed’s pleading.

The Israelis have their say in the film, including a woman border policeman and an army spokesman who has an accent that could be from Cleveland or Milwaukee, but they are deaf to their own arrogance and their testimony only strengthens the Palestinian case. After 10 months of protest, Israel does change the route of the security wall, sparing most of Budrus’s olive groves.

The film is showing in New York City until October 28, and should hopefully continue into wide circulation.

P.S.  Here’s a link to other showings of Budrus around the world.

18 Responses

  1. Avi
    October 20, 2010, 5:55 pm

    I met Ayed Morrar on several occasions. He is a sweetheart of a person, a great man, humble, soft spoken and yet courageous, brave and resolute at the same time.

  2. David Samel
    October 20, 2010, 5:58 pm

    James, I was lucky enough to catch this movie with Julia Bacha taking questions, and she noted how important it was for distribution to have a good first week, so people in the NYC area, I highly recommend the movie.

  3. maximalistNarrative
    October 20, 2010, 7:06 pm

    Why is “border” in quotes?

    • James North
      October 20, 2010, 7:16 pm

      Avi, David, anyone else care to explain why “border” is an imprecise concept in Israel/Palestine?

    • Avi
      October 20, 2010, 7:18 pm

      1. Israel has no internationally recognized and permanent border with the occupied West Bank.

      2. The Green Line that is the armistice line of 1949 which Israel crossed in 1967 as it moved to occupy the West Bank has been rendered meaningless due to Israel’s facts on the ground (Read: Colonial settlements, Jewish-only roads and checkpoints).

      3. Israel built the separation wall along a path that does not follow the Green Line.

      That is why “border” is in quotes.

      Do you have any other “smart” questions?

      • maximalistNarrative
        October 20, 2010, 8:20 pm

        Hmm those all seem to be incorrect lies. I’ll do my own research from now on and comment on my own.

        I guess the “War or Ideas” is fought dirty.

      • Avi
        October 20, 2010, 11:12 pm

        maximalistNarrative October 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm

        Hmm those all seem to be incorrect lies. I’ll do my own research from now on and comment on my own.

        I guess the “War or Ideas” is fought dirty.

        Whatever helps you sleep better at night.

      • Sumud
        October 21, 2010, 12:46 am

        Hmm those all seem to be incorrect lies…

        Double negative…

      • Avi
        October 21, 2010, 1:11 am

        Hmm those all seem to be incorrect lies…

        Double negative…


        I think that guy gets his information from that Twitter feed you mentioned, you know, the one where firemen were burning laundry and robbers were robbed ;)

        Ziocaine turns people’s worlds upside down.

        Bonne nuit.

      • thankgodimatheist
        October 21, 2010, 1:39 am

        If those are incorrect lies(sic) ,why don’t you tell us where they are? Where are the borders..Show us..I really want to learn..

      • David Samel
        October 21, 2010, 9:18 am

        maxN, I don’t think any of Avi’s points is even arguably inaccurate, or would be disputed by the most right-wing Israelis. Why exactly do you comment on this site? If you want to present an alternative point of view, it hardly helps your cause to look like an idiot. Your original question regarding “border” in quotes was very silly, but you should have stopped there and cut your losses. btw, I’m glad you have decided to do your own research. Who was doing it before? And you’re now going to “comment on my own”? Who was commenting on your behalf until now? Or were you commenting on behalf of someone else?

      • eljay
        October 21, 2010, 9:58 am

        >> I guess the “War or Ideas” is fought dirty.

        Presenting facts and speaking out against occupation, aggression, land theft, colonialism, expansionism and murder is considerably less dirty than the pro-Zionist tactics of presenting lies and justifying occupation, aggression, land theft, colonialism, expansionism and murder.

        It’s justice and humanism vs. their fraudulent, Zio-supremacist counterparts.

  4. Bumblebye
    October 20, 2010, 8:01 pm

    As you well know mN, Israel has extended its sovereignty over the West Bank – ignores the fact that the world does not recognize it – but not included the people already resident there among its citizenry and treats them like dirt on their shoes.

    You in particular will gloat over this:

    link to guardian.co.uk

    New West Bank housing starts four times higher than in previous two years in just the three weeks since the end of the false “moratorium”. And the report chose the most conservative figures.

    • maximalistNarrative
      October 21, 2010, 10:30 am

      There is a legal basis for extended Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

      I don’t know how better to craft my words so this post isn’t censored.

      I’m responded to a comment directed at me. So please allow my post.

      Thank you.

      • mig
        October 21, 2010, 2:12 pm

        “There is a legal basis for extended Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.”

        ++++ Hardly can wait to some International law links to verify this. ( oh, almost forgot, there is none ).

  5. clenchner
    October 21, 2010, 10:47 am

    mN, there is a legal argument, but that’s different than a legal basis. For those who don’t know, Israel argues, alone in the world, that because Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank was never recognized by the international community, that Israeli rule can’t be considered ‘occupation.’ Rather, the status has been ‘disputed’ since the end of the British Mandate, with no internationally recognized sovereign power.

    But it’s crap. The argument dates from a time in Israeli legal history where there was a need to legalize horrific acts of misrule and expropriation. Or at least grant Israel a kind of fig leaf so it’s diplomatic reps had something, anything, to say in response to various questions.

    The purpose in changing the territories from ‘occupied’ to ‘disputed’ was to wriggle out of international law that require the occupier to prioritize the interests of the local inhabitants, to refrain from settling in such territories, and to apply the laws of war to violent conflict (as opposed to criminal/terrorist laws.)

  6. kapok
    October 21, 2010, 4:50 pm

    Dear invigilator(s): Why did deny my riposte to maxGnat?

    Legal can mean anything to law-makers in possession of vast arsenals.

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