Iyad Burnat, leader of the Popular Resistance Committee of Bil’in and brother of 5 Broken Cameras Co-Director Emad Burnat, sits for an interview with Peter B. Collins, host of Seriously Now, a weekly progressive news report from Marin TV in Marin County, California. Joining them is Anna Rogers from the Marin Peace and Justice Coalition.
After a brief introduction by Amy Goodman, at 3:30, Collins interviews Burnat and Rogers interspersed with scenes from 5 Broken Cameras, nominated for the 2013 Best Documentary Feature Oscar award.
In my estimation, this 25 minute interview is unprecedented in American television media by the range and scope of topics raised by Collins as he queries Burnat. Whether inquiring on the lives of Palestinian children growing up in Bil’in, water, roads, checkpoints, weapons made in the US used against demonstrators, apartheid, or Jimmy Carter’s visits, as well as reflecting on tactics in the ghettoization of Jews in various European cities during the Nazi era, Collins leaves few stones unturned. A viewer, previously knowing nothing about the village of Bil’in or life inside the occupation can learn almost as much information from Burnat in this 25 minute riveting interview as his brother’s footage affords in 5 Broken Cameras.
And Burnat’s responses are always measured, direct and revealing. He briefly introduces his village; the population, size, how much land Israel has confiscated, the prominence olive trees have in the lives and livelihood of Palestinians and how in 2004 life radically changed for the village of Bil’in. Then he speaks of 2005 when the villagers built the committee and started the demonstrations every Friday.
Because we believe the media is very important in our non violent way, to send our message to all the people in the world that this is not a security wall as Israelis say, this is just to confiscate more land to build more settlement, to put the demonstrators in jail….since 8 years now every Friday every demonstration he[Emad Burnat] comes and take footage to put it on YouTube and show our struggle to the people.
Burnat:This settlement they started to build it after Oslo agreement… in the beginning they confiscated the land by many laws. One of these laws is that it is a security area for closement ….and then they started to build the houses so all of this is after the Olso agreement…For example in summertime we didn’t have water everyday. Look at the settlements it looks green and it’s a swimming pool and they have this 24 hours. And you feel that when you look at the settlement and look at the Palestinians, all these settlements after Oslo agreement they want to make the life of the Palestinians very hard day by day. Every day because the goal of the Israel government, the goal of the wall is to transfer the Palestinians out from their land…. most of them lost their land.
Collins: In the American media Israel is described as defending itself from terrorists. Has anyone ever from your village, let me just put a window on it, in the last 10 years launched a rocket from the Palestinian land into Israel?
Burnat: No… nobody do that. The Palestinin there are peaceful people, everywhere we have the Palestinian people suffering …the Israeli army every time try push them sometimes to push the violence, like in Gaza or in our non violent demonstations sometimes. They try to push the people to use the violence. For example in our demonstrations they were sending the special forces from the army undercover, wearing our clothe, to join us in out demonstrations and start to throw stones to the soldiers. But because we have our strategy in Bil’in where we didn’t use the violence we catch them.
(clip from movie )
Collins: Iyad one of the things that’s discussed in one of the meetings that is shown in the film is that the movement of the border, the incursions into your land, that all of these actions are actually illegal under Israeli law .
Burnat: yes we know all the settlements are illegal by the international law, but these homes/settlement is was illegal by israel law also . so when we find that by our lawyers and our friends there we start our actions against the settlements……..once we tried to stop them it doesn’t succeed, they beat us.
The full 50 minute interview will be available in the coming days. In an email exchange with me, “Seriously Now” producer Peggy Day “It was painful to edit it down to fit into our show. The parts we excluded were equally important to the topic.” Those topics include: administrative detention as well as the Hunger strikers, the BDS movement, South Africa, the website WhoProfits, Jewish Voice for Peace, the effects of the Israeli court decision moving the wall back and returning 1000 dunams, and a description of how that land has been destroyed. Also larger issues of freedom, the viability of the two state solution versus a single state with full citizenship.