I produced this film “Palestinian Students Call to Divest for Justice” along with two friends from al Ma’sara, near Bethlehem, Mahmoud Elddin and Moath al Lahham. We wanted to bring the difficult reality of life under occupation as Palestinian students experience it to the gaze of the wider public as the debate at the University of California Berkeley was heating up on a student senate resolution calling on the school to divest from companies profiting off the occupation, a resolution that passed three months ago.
Producer Mahmoud Elddin writes:
This film is important for us because we want to show other students around the world what is wrong here and what Palestinian students face everyday and how much they are suffering just to arrive to the university.
Moath Al Lahham:
I think making the film was very important for me in some points! Firstly; because it relates to the Israeli violations against student’s rights and we helped expose the ugly face of the occupation, especially to American students. Many American students do not have enough information about the reality of the conflict, so, I felt very happy about doing this film because it was a challenge for me (to fight for good in the conflict between the power of a just cause and an oppressive power).
Secondly; by making that film, I know that we can help our issue directly by divestment especially as it was passed by the voting of students. This voting can help building peace.
On the other hand I found that “humanity” still exist in the world because there are groups or campaigns working in supporting humanity and human rights in Palestine, like the campaign (Freedom and Justice in Palestine).
Bir Zeit, Palestine Ahliya and Bethlehem Universities were very helpful in allowing us to film on site and in even locating students for us for the interviews. The filming took three days.
My motivation in producing the film was to present to the American public the faces of young Palestinian students who are, of course, no different from students all over the world. Some Americans unfortunately tend not to see Palestinians as full human beings who have the same wishes and desires as they do and have a somewhat distorted if not racist vision. In my view, if Americans were more aware of the humanity of Palestinians, a far greater number of people would have found the inhumane treatment they are subjected to by Israel to be entirely unacceptable.
Although I knew quite a bit about the occupation from various angles before, it was nevertheless incredibly shocking to hear the students recount their stories in person. Each story appeared to reveal the manifold and multilayered ways in which the Israeli occupation operates and discriminates against people while hurting multiple fibers of their being in the process. As an Israeli-American, it was very important to me to overcome the superifical and yet very physical boundaries Israel created between humans on this small piece of land and to bring stories from students there to the wider public.
Samih Asfour, Bir Zeit University, on participating in the video:
I’d like them [American students] to know that the strongest weapon against tyranny is the Human mind and will. If a human uses his mind to find the truth, all it takes is the will in his heart to bring justice to those who deserve it and prosperity to those who deserve that. So all those who participate in this boycott and protest have a strong enough voice to make life better for many people.
Islam Shakarnah, the female student who spoke in the film about how bulldozers destroy the agricultural fields in her village of Nahalin, offered the following addition:
Our lives are becoming harder and harder every day….
I live next to a settlement which is called Betar Illit. And a few days ago I was on a road going with my mother, my aunt and my sister to a field that belongs to my uncle which by the way is something unbelievable that he still has it! We were going to that field and on our way two boys started to throw stones over us from their settlement to our road which is very near to them.
Also here we can’t express ourselves easily without feeling afraid of getting imprisoned by the Israeli soldiers for saying the truth of our sufferings and the reality that we live!
An shorter version of the video is here.