How many films and reports and dispatches from Palestine must we take in before we are allowed to talk about Israeli occupation (45 years old this week) as a crime which we, as Americans, should be ashamed to support with well over $3 billion a year in taxpayer funds? How long until we can talk about a nonviolent Palestinian resistance movement (now 10 years old in its current manifestation) as a struggle formed in the mold of the life work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi? Hopefully 5 Broken Cameras, like its best-known predecessor Budrus, helps hasten the arrival of this long overdue moment of reckoning for Americans.
While this extraordinary and artfully composed film tells both a deeply personal and truly universal tale, ultimately it is a story about the ongoing project of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land. Begun in 1947-49 with three quarters of a million Palestinians forced to flee their homes to make way for Israel, and entrenched in 1967 with the onset of Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, this is an ethnic cleansing that continues to this day. But it is a process that takes place at relatively slow clip and by various means (both “legal” under Israeli law and illegal under international law), such as through the building of walls and settlements, via Kafkaesque military decrees, house demolitions, incursions, imprisonment and intimidation.
To resist such a project is a treacherous endeavor more akin to a marathon than a sprint. And as we watch Emad raise his sons amidst torched olive trees and fallen friends, the miracle, it seems, is that he has the will first to get out of bed every day, and then to raise his camera to document the unjust world he lives in.
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