Institute for Palestine Studies presents digital edition of landmark ‘Before Their Diaspora: A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948′

 Before Their Diaspora is a visual journey into Palestine before 1948
Every important aspect of Palestinian society comes to life in the nearly 500 photographs, carefully selected from thousands available in private and public collections throughout the world. Descriptive, analytical texts, introduce each of the five historical periods into which the book is divided. Carefully researched, captions identify the time, place, personalities and context of each photograph. The first printing was in 1984. Watch a short video about the book.
http://btd.palestine-studies.org/

Land Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Restriction of Movement / Apartheid & Occupation / Refugees

 
Netanyahu endorses report that says West Bank occupation legitimate

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed procedural portions of an advisory report in favor of illegal settlement building in the occupied West Bank, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. Pending approval by a ministerial committee, the move eases settlement planning and construction procedures, legalizes outpost building, and makes lax West Bank property purchasing laws. The announcement comes as Netanyahu gears up for early elections he called for this month, which analysts have deemed a sure victory for the incumbent. Netanyahu is running for a second re-election, something that has only been achieved so far by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
 
Order follows petition regarding six outposts slated for demolition; Peace Now: Enforcing the law is not a political question.
 

Barak claims that legalisation of settlements will destroy Israel
Israel’s Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, has said that the Levy Report on the legalisation of settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem will not boost settlement construction, but will “destroy” Israel. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Barak said, “The adoption of the Levy Report by the government will cause damage that its supporters don’t expect.” He pointed out that if the government adopts Levy’s recommendations there will be a lot of diplomatic damage to Israel which will deepen its isolation in the world. The Levy committee was commissioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to study the legal status of the settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank. Headed by Judge Edmond Levy, who is himself a settler, it recommended the legalisation of the outposts and settlements. The committee claimed that the settlements are legal, even under international law.

 
Israel has given final approval for the construction of 800 settler homes in east Jerusalem Thursday, with construction tenders likely to be published within a few months, a Peace Now official said. The move will mean the westward expansion of Gilo, an illegal settlement neighborhood located on the southern flanks of east Jerusalem, very close to the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Construction proposals are already expected to be published within a few months, according to Hagit Ofran, director the settlement watchdog project Peace Now.
 
Residents in recognized village of Bir Hadaj received demolition orders last week, accuse state of trampling on their rights as citizens.
 

IOA orders citizen in JV to evacuate his home
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has ordered a Palestinian citizen in the Jordan Valley to evacuate his home within three days in preparation for razing it.

 

IOA orders Palestinian families to stop building their homes
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) ordered seven Palestinian families in Taku village, south of Bethlehem, to stop building their homes.

 
According to the Nature and Parks Authority, establishment of the wall will change not only the landscape, but also the special pace of life of traditional farmers.
 
In the West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli activists blocked traffic on a highway into Jerusalem Tuesday to protest repeated attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinian olive groves. Israeli soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades against protesters. Hundreds of olive trees that provide a livelihood for Palestinians in the West Bank were uprooted, burned or chopped down by settlers during the first week of the harvest this month. One protester condemned the attacks.
 

UN report: settlers destroy more than 7,500 olive trees
OCHA has revealed that the Jewish settlers continued their attacks against the Palestinian farmers in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the year destroying more than 7500 olive trees.

 

Colonists Attacked Palestinian Land

On Monday morning, 15th of October, colonists cut plum trees close to the colony of Efrata. The trees belong to the farmer Abdalla Brigeet and the land area is between Efrata and Migdal Oz north of Beit Ommar. Both these colonies are built on Beit Ommar land. A total of forty trees were cut this day, approximately one dunam of land. This is the first time Abdalla experience this kind of attacks from colonists.

Warnings against Israeli scheme to seize Islamic buildings in WB
Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage warned against Israeli serious plans to seize Islamic important buildings located near the Al Aqsa Mosque, and others near the Ibrahimi Mosque.

 
A United Nations official said on Thursday that Palestinians in Syria have been thrust into the violence there and called on neighboring countries to allow them in like Syrian refugees. Syria’s roughly 500,000 Palestinians “have been been thrust into the crisis since June and July,” Radhouane Nouicer, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, said at a Cairo press conference. ”We don’t know how that happened, and who is behind it,” he said.
 
A visit to the Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp reveals the Palestinians living there to be overwhelmingly skeptical of the motives and operations of non-government organizations (NGOs), especially efforts seen as attempts to normalize their resettlement abroad. “What do they want from us?” a woman named Abeer asked angrily. I met Abeer while conducting a study for a women’s non-profit organization seeking to provide free mental health services in the camps.
 
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky reportedly called for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza, on his first ever visit to the Hamas-ruled enclave on Thursday. Chomsky, who was in the Gaza Strip for a conference at the Islamic University, called “to end the Israeli siege on Gaza,” a member of Gaza’s legislative council and head of the university’s administrative board, Jamal al-Khudari, told AFP. “The Palestinian people have a right to live peacefully and in freedom,” Khudari also quoted Chomsky as saying. Israel says its blockade of the coastal strip, first imposed in June 2006 and tightened in September 2007, is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement. “Our trip to Gaza was very difficult, but we arrived here and I saw several things which I hoped before to see,” Chomsky said in remarks broadcast on Palestinian television from the university on Thursday evening. In May 2010, Israel barred Chomsky from entering the West Bank, where he was to deliver a lecture. He finally broadcast his speech by video link from Jordan.
 
Israeli & Egyptian Siege on Gaza
 
For the past 14 years, 120 tons of garbage has been dumped every day beside Sofa, a commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel. The dump reached capacity in 2005 but remains in use because the authorities have not found an alternative. Today, the mound of waste at Sofa is about 30 meters high.
 
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Fuel donated by Qatar will be pumped into the Gaza Strip via an Israeli crossing starting on Sunday, a Palestinian crossings official said Thursday. Delivery of Qatari fuel began in July, but was cut off after a border attack on Egyptian officers on Aug. 5, a Ma’an correspondent said. Fuel supplies will resume Sunday after delivery from Egypt and through the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, crossings director Nazmi Muhanna said. Gaza still faces up to eight hours without electricity per day. The power crisis began in mid-February, when Egypt cut off supplies via a tunnel network running under its border with the enclave.
 
JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel took up his post on Wednesday, assuring the country of Cairo’s continued commitment to a 1979 peace treaty. ”I came with a message of peace and I came to confirm that we are working for mutual trust and transparency and we are committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel,” Atef Mohamed Salem Sayed Elahl said on presenting his credentials to President Shimon Peres. Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Mursi, hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, and his ascent to power in an election after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in a popular uprising in 2011 has raised concern in Israel about the future of the peace pact.
 

Palestinian gov’t appeals to int’l community to stop Israel’s crimes in Gaza
The Palestinian government warned of the dire consequences of Israel’s persistent military aggression against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and demanded the international community to intervene.

 
GAZA CITY (Reuters) — A restaurant run and staffed by deaf people opened for business in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, helped by Palestinians seeking to build a more inclusive society where people with disabilities can realize their full potential. The stylish Atfaluna restaurant near Gaza port stands out in a city with few facilities for the disabled. Waiters and cooks use sign language, guests point to selections from the menu and what ensues is a spontaneous form of communication that organizers hope will break down bias and barriers.
 
Israeli Terrorism
 
On Monday 15th of October at 8 p.m. Ashraf Izzet Sabarna (19) walked, along with his sisters, from the village of Beit Ommar in the direction of their family home close to the Jerusalem-Hebron Road. When they passed the Israeli military tower at the entrance of Beit Ommar several soldiers from the Israeli occupation forces started to verbally harass Ashraf’s sisters.
 
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Settlers threw Molotov cocktails toward Palestinian houses on Wednesday in area near Beit El settlement east of Ramallah, locals said. Hatem Sobeh told Ma’an on Thursday that a mob of settlers threw Molotovs toward Palestinian houses. Trees were torched, and the civil defense rushed to the area.
 
Illegal Arrests

PA forces arrest four Hamas cadres in Nablus and Tulkarem
PA security continued their political arrest campaigns against Hamas cadres in the West Bank, arresting four of them in Nablus and Tulkarem, and raided the homes of others.

 
 

Israel arrests patients crossing the Erez checkpoint from Gaza
With the Gaza Strip under siege for its fifth year, traveling in and out of the tiny coastal enclave remains a difficult process. Although there are four border crossings, only two operate as pedestrian crossings.

 

Farmer Arrested for Being a Victim of Israeli Stone Throwers.
On Sunday morning, October 14th, 2012, at 7 a.m. a farmer, Mohammed Abd Alhamid Soleibi, was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces as he was harvesting olives in his fields. His olive trees are located in Area C, in Saffa, close to Bayt Ain an Israeli colony and a part of the Gush Esion block. Mohammed is one of many Palestinians that have to cultivate their land in fear of colonist attacks because their fields are located close to an Israeli colony. Last year he was harassed by extreme colonists together with the Israeli occupation forces.

 

Farmer in Saffa Arrested
On Thursday 18th of October at 8 p.m. Beit Ommar resident, Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Daiya (20), was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces. Ibrahim is a farmer living in the Saffa area of Beit Ommar. Earlier that day he had been herding his sheep in Palestinian land, close to the Israeli colony of Bat Ayin. Thursday evening soldiers came to the house were Ibrahim and his family live and arrested him. PSP does not know the reason for the arrest.

http://palestinesolidarityproject.org/2012/10/18/farmer-in-saffa-arrested/

 

Night Raid by the Occupation Forces: Child and Youth Arrested
On Monday 15th of October at 3 a.m. Israeli occupation forces came in ten military jeeps and two prisoner vans and raided four family homes in the village of Beit Ommar. One child and three youths of Beit Ommar were arrested; Ahmed Ali al-Alami (17), Rifat Sadi al-Alami (18), Mutaz Yousef al-Alami (18) and Mohammed Sami Sabarna (22). Ahmed is still in school while the others are students at the university. Three of them have never been arrested before. For Mohammed this is his second time in prison.

Other Prisoner News
 
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli court on Thursday extended the detention of a human rights researcher arrested in the West Bank earlier this week. The Jerusalem court ruled that Ayman Nasser stay under interrogation for another seven days based on secret evidence, the prisoners group he works for, Addameer, said in a statement. Nasser, 42, was detained overnight Sunday from his home in the village of Saffa, west of Ramallah. He has been working as a researcher for Addameer since 2008, and is also a part-time lecturer in social work at Al-Quds University.
 

IOA extends the administrative detention of former Minister Issa Al-Jabari
Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) decided on Wednesday to renew the administrative detention of former minister Issa Khairy al-Jabari for four months..

 

Starving in Palestine: the power of empty stomachs
Ramallah — Presently being held in a prison clinic in Ramle, Samer al-Barq has launched his third hunger strike this year, demanding his immediate release from administrative detention.

http://www.palestinemonitor.org/?p=7859

 
Protests / Solidarity / Activism / BDS
 
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Public university staff in the West Bank will go on strike for two days next week to protest the delays in paying government salaries, their union announced on Thursday. Staff will stay at home on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the continuing salary crisis, the union said.  They join the Palestinian Authority’s public workers union, who will also be on strike. Union members already carried out strikes this week on Wednesday and Thursday over delay in salary payments. On Thursday, the Palestinian Authority finance ministry announced it was distributing partial September salaries to its workers. Amid a decrease in foreign assistance and falling domestic revenues, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has repeatedly delayed paying employees, and regularly capped payments to high earners.
 
A performance by an Israeli dance group in Brighton next month has been cancelled amid security concerns, in a decision that anti-Israel campaigners are hailing as a victory. The Batsheva Ensemble, the youth company of the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company, has been invited to perform Deca Dance in Bradford, Salford, Birmingham, Brighton, Plymouth, Leicester and London in a tour organised by Dance Consortium. But the tour has been targeted by supporters of a cultural boycott of Israel, who disrupted all three of the Batsheva Dance Company’s performances at the Edinburgh International Festival earlier this year.
 
Over 100 organizations sent an open letter to the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team to boycott an exhibition game against the Israeli team Maccabi-Haifa. The organizations also signed onto a worldwide sports and cultural boycott of Israel, saying that efforts to present Israel as a normal’ society should be banned until Israel complies with international law and ends its human rights abuses against Palestinians. 
 

Palestine footballer, ex-prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak calls on UEFA to strip Israel of hosting tournaments, Ali Abunimah
“I call on all those who spoke out for my release and the release of the Palestinian hunger strikers, to once again show their commitment to justice and equality by insisting that UEFA move their competitions away from Israel.”

 

Intensive preparations to host conference on Palestinian prisoners in Tunisia
Intensive preparations are being made to host the international conference in support of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, next November, in Tunisia.

 
A number of activists and their friends spent Monday evening at the Rooftop Studios in downtown Cairo finding out about “Everywhere to Gaza.” They were buying T-shirts on sale with “From Cairo to Gaza” written on them in Arabic, and on the back “Free Gaza.” The idea is to inspire people across the world to make and wear T-shirts with the same message, tailored to their city, town or village, and written in their language. People are then encouraged to take photos and send them to be uploaded on the website, hopefully bringing in as many different places and languages as possible.
 
Among the documents are “intelligence reports” that detail the police’s surveillance of Palestine solidarity activism. In January 2009, the Boston Police Department authored an “intelligence report” on a “die-in” action at the Israeli consulate at the time when Israel was then waging Cast Lead, an all-out assault on Gaza. The “intelligence report” was labeled “Criminal Act: Groups-Extremist.” The report details the interrogations of four activists who were arrested as part of the action. “The purpose of the interviews was to attempt to create a dialogue with these activists in the hopes that these activists may reach out to officers in the future regarding any future actions relating to the current situation in Gaza,” the police wrote. A March 2009 “intelligence report” shows that Boston police officers monitored another Palestine solidarity protest outside a hotel hosting a dinner. The report specifically noted that “women believed to be associated with Code Pink were prevented from getting into the dinner by private security.”
 

Lobby takes gloves off in assault on Christian leaders who questioned US aid to Israel, Ali Abunimah
Pro-Israel groups threaten to use their muscle to get Congress to investigate “delegitimizers of Israel.”

 

Brits for Hasbara Now — “peace” group is part of anti-boycott campaign, Ben White
As they organise a debate on boycott, Brits for Peace Now refuse to answer questions on their role within anti-BDS coordination group Fair Play.

 
Israeli Racism & Discrimination
 
Council okays construction, but places three month limit on residence in tents within the facility.
 
Political Developments / Other News
 
A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Wednesday evening to discuss threats from a Jihadi group in Sinai with alleged connections to the Gaza Strip and plans to launch attacks on Israel.  Sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the delegation would report to officials at the Egyptian General Intelligence Services the latest information they have on the issue. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the visit would last for a few days. Earlier Wednesday, the state-run MENA news agency quoted a prominent Hamas figure as saying that the visit will discuss internal issues pertaining the group, and the Palestinian arena in general. He didn’t give any further details on the visit.
 
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday formed a Palestinian Authority committee to deal with official relations with Egypt, government media reported. The group, authorized by presidential decree, will also deal with Palestinian borders with Egypt, PA news agency Wafa said. The committee is headed by PA finance minister Nabil Qassis, and also composed of economy minister Jawad al-Naji, civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh and planning minister Muhammad Abu Ramadan, the report said. Senior officials from both Abbas’ Fatah-led government and the Gaza authority run by Hamas have held high-level meetings with Egyptian officials this month.
 
The Hamas leader is expected to arrive with the Emir of Qatar and other Arab leaders.
 

Israel: Gaza getting missiles from Libyan war
A top Israeli defense official says Gaza is being flooded with sophisticated weapons from Libya and that the anti-aircraft missile fired last week at an Israeli helicopter likely originated there.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has asked Moscow’s ambassador to the PA to clarify why Russia called to postpone a vote on Palestinian heritage sites at the UN. Russia on Wednesday proposed delaying voting on five decisions to implement resolutions protecting Palestinian heritage sites in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and reconstructing the Gaza Strip.  At an executive board meeting in Paris, Russia’s proposal to postpone voting for six months passed by 28 votes to 23.  Al-Malki told Ma’an he did not know why Russia suggested the delay but that he had invited the Russian ambassador to a meeting to explain the decision. 
 

Palestinians urged by Britain to delay ‘non-member state’ bid at UN
UK diplomats provoke anger by arguing move could be detrimental to US re-engagement with peace process. Britain is urging the Palestinian leadership to delay its bid for upgraded status at the United Nations general assembly, warning that the move is likely to be detrimental to US re-engagement with the peace process following next month’s presidential election. Palestinian sources expressed anger at the British move, saying the UK had been recruited to US opposition to their bid. But they insisted they would press for a vote on their UN status by 15 November and were confident of winning a majority. At least 115 countries, and possibly as many as 150, out of a total of 193, are forecast to vote in favour of upgraded “non-member state” status.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/17/palestinians-urged-britain-state-un
 

Russian envoy presents compromise deal to postpone Jordanian move for six months; dramatic turn comes on same day that new Jordanian and Egyptian ambassadors present their credentials to President Shimon Peres.
 
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A group of former world leaders including ex-US President Jimmy Carter will visit Israel and the West Bank next week. Carter, former Irish President Mary Robinson and ex-premier of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland will “raise concerns about the future of the imperiled two-state solution” during their two-day visit which commences Sunday, a group statement said. The trip will be the third collective visit to the West Bank by The Elders, an independent group of eminent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela. They will also visit Cairo “to encourage the country’s inclusive and democratic political transition and will hold meetings with officials, young people, civil society and media,” the statement added.
 

New report deconstructs World Bank’s recommendations for Palestinian economy
A new report by the Palestinian Policy Network, al-Shabaka, takes a deep look at the role that the World Bank and international donors have had in the de-development of the Palestinian economy.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israeli political sources say the Palestinian Authority recently asked the Bank of Israel to increase the limit of Palestinian Authority deposits to $2 billion, the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday. The report said officials of the Bank of Israel were surprised that the PA was asking to allow deposit of such a “mountain” of money while the PA leadership claims to be facing a severe financial crisis. The report highlighted that Israeli officials were starting to have suspicions that the Palestinian Authority “is helping criminal Arab families” inside Israel with money laundering. 
 

Lawyers question Arafat’s widow
French prosecutors investigating the death of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, question his widow Suha as a witness.

 

IDF planning first ultra-Orthodox commando unit
The elite company would be attached to an armored brigade and composed of outstanding members of the already existing Nahal Haredi battalion.

 
The parent organization of iVoteIsrael, which calls for Israeli-Americans to participate in the U.S. presidential election, lists same suite number, office address of Lauder’s foundation, 2010 tax filings reveal.
 
A group of past heads of state that advocates for peace called The Elders announced the visit Thursday.

Analysis / Op-ed / Human Interest

A new Israeli war on Gaza will have consequences
A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has said that a new Israeli war against the people of Gaza will be “an adventure with consequences”. Although Zaki Bani Rasheid ruled out the inevitability of war, he said that threats made by Israel’s leaders must be taken seriously. In an exclusive statement to Quds Press, Bani Rasheid said that the internal crisis in Israel won’t allow rhetoric to escalate: “I think that changes that have taken place with the Arab Spring will make the Israelis think twice before having another adventure in Gaza.” It is true that it might win the battle in Gaza, he added, but it would influence Israel’s peace agreements with Arab countries, especially the Camp David and the Wadi Araba accords. “That would provide the Arab peoples with new ammunition which would then be an integral part of the decision-making process.” Bani Rasheid ruled out any possibility that aggression against Gaza would lead to war between Israel and the Arab Spring countries, but he warned that while the “first war” on Gaza provoked a response from around the world, “A new war would lead to a regional siege of Israel and even greater international isolation”.

 
After the head of Hamas announced that he will not run in the party’s coming elections, mystery shrouds the future of the Gazan politburo’s leadership.
A final word on Greta Berlin and the Free Gaza controversy, Ali Abunimah
“This episode also helped me gain some clarity about the symbiotic relationship between Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

 

If only it was just one tweet: One activist’s experience in the ‘Our Land’ Facebook group, Bekah Wolf
Four months ago, I was added to a Facebook group called “Our Land” much of which, when I finally looked at the content, immediately struck me as anti-Semitic in nature, so I complained to the person who had added me. That person was Greta Berlin. The “Our Land” page currently has 13 administrators, including Greta, and is a combination of posts from legitimate sources such as Ma’an News Agency and Al Jazeera on current events in Palestine, along with anti-Semitic rants and comments. The video of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins that Greta tweeted out on the Free Gaza Movement’s Twitter account on September 30 originated in this group.

…the Green Line is a cultural myth, harnessed to advance the economic-political and cultural interests of a broad liberal Jewish stratum of society in Israel.  This is the source of the paradox: The principle obstacle for a shift in the historical language resides with the liberal classes frequently referred to as ‘leftist’, who have a significant impact in shaping and offering solutions to the conflict. This liberal “left” offers an outlook on the conflict derived from a cultural and politico-economic position which is both sectorial and conservative.  In fact, among the Jewish political right there has long been broad agreement that the 1948 war is the pivotal question which needs to be addressed – rather than concealed.  Consequently, a renewed thinking about a solution to the conflict calls for us to redraw the Israeli political map – including reshaping the conventional distinction between “left” and “right” – in a manner which may produce surprising new alliances. These are the tasks I undertake in this essay.  
 

New film explains the basics to achieving justice in Palestine
Filmmaker Sami Moukaddem demonstrates that the Palestinian situation isn’t complex in his debut documentary.

 
Alice Rothchild is currently traveling on the Dorothy Cotton Institute delegation to Israel/Palestine. For her last post from the delegation see here. The last time I went to Bil’in was in January 2011 for a frightening, exhilarating tear gas filled Friday demonstration against the wall. This time, not only did we arrive on a Wednesday, (no demonstrations), but conditions have changed dramatically, though not barely enough. From Birzeit we headed southwest, past the infamous Ofer Prison in the distance, through stunning rugged, rocky landscape, terraced with silvery olive trees, contrasting dark green figs, up and down ear popping hills, winding through tiny towns with tall thin minnerets, lush fuscia colored bouganvia, mansions built by wealthy US Palestinians erupting from the hillsides. As we approach the tiny town of Bil’in, the Jewish settlement of Modi’in Illit appears like a mirage in the distance, a haze of tall apartment buildings dominating miles of hilltops. This is as close to a pilgrimage as I get.
 
Composed entirely of footage taken by a West Bank Palestinian, this account of the oppresion of a village is the kind of material that rarely makes the news. This sombre movie bears comparison with Julia Bacha’s 2009 documentary Budrus; it is also about a Palestinian village on the West Bank, substantially but precariously dependent on olive farming, which is threatened with obliteration by the Israeli government’s anti-terrorist barrier. Bil’in is a village near Ramallah, where a farmer called Emad Burnat bought a video camera to film his baby son Gibreel – but found himself using it instead to record images of the struggle and protest against the wall. Altogether, Burnat got through five cameras, smashed and shot by the army. He himself suffered wounding, saw injury and death visited on his community, and most poignantly of all saw his son Gibreel grow up, hardened by events that most children his age do not see. The film is composed entirely of his own footage, though with music and narration added. His cameras seem to grow bigger and more expensive with each replacement – perhaps the larger community of international observers and protesters was helping. It is of course a one-sided film, but a powerful personal testimony: the kind of material that never makes the nightly news.

Strange things have been happening in the Holy Land in the past couple of weeks. Here’s a quick roundup… Israel’s parliament has set a date of January 22, 2013 for a national election after deciding to dissolve parliament.[1] Many have predicted an easy win for hawkish Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. His warmongering rhetoric and pathetic pandering to fundamentalist and far right constituents will serve him well come election day.
 
The screen showed a scene that could only be described as absurd. A crowded street in Ramallah with a traffic officer who dances at cars. Yes, dances. As the audience ponders how the good people of Ramallah appeared so nonchalant about having a dancer staging a public performance in one of their more crowded streets, while undoubtedly having countless other pressing issues to deal with, the film ends and it is revealed that the dancer is in fact not a dancer at all. He is a famous traffic officer in Ramallah who has a daily routine, well-known to the troubled citizens of the ever-shrinking Palestinian territories.
 
www.TheHeadlines.Org