All posts in The Territories

Film “My Neighbourhood” Wins a Peabody Award!

Mohammed el Kurd / Emily Smith

Congrats to the team at Just Vision and their latest production My Neighbourhood on winning a Peabody Award! The short film exploring the challenges of living under threat of eviction in an East Jerusalem neighborhood through the eyes of a teenage boy joins ABC News, the New York Times, and BBC’s Doctor Who series in celebrating the awards. Although Just Vision has won numerous awards at film festivals and beyond, most notably the Common Ground Award for their film Budrus in 2010, this is their first Peabody.

Palestine Note caught up with co-director Rebekah Wingert-Jabi to get her thoughts on being honored, the impact of nonviolent films, and what the situation is in Sheikh Jarrah today.

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A Wave of Palestinian Activism

Protesters wave Palestinian flags in Bil’in / Dylan Collins

On 29 November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voiced resounding approval for a resolution that upgraded the Palestinian Authority to the status of observer state, recognizing its sovereignty within the 1967 borders: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem as its capital.

The following day little changed: Israeli institutions in the occupied territories remained unscathed, including the winding strings of heavily-populated Jewish settlements, military checkpoints strategically dotted across the map, the several hundred kilometer long separation wall, and a number of segregated highways.

Israeli officials reacted by announcing 3,000 new settlement units in the keystone E1 area of the West Bank. In the face of international criticism, PM Benyamin Netanyahu defiantly vowed to press on.  “Today we are building and we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all areas that are on the map of the strategic interests of the State of Israel,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting on 2 December.

Tensions continue to rise as Israeli military forces have enacted a harsh crackdown in the West Bank, launching sweeping arrest campaigns. As of February, Addameer Prisoner Support Network documents that 4,812 Palestinians were being detained in Israeli prisons, 219 of which were children and 178 of which were being held in administrative detention without trial or charge. Since November, the total number of prisoners increased by 282, including 55 additional children and 22 more administrative detainees.

Additionally, at least seven Palestinians died at the hands of Israel thus far this year. According to Israeli NGO BTselem, five unarmed Palestinians were shot and killed by the Israeli military in January alone. The latest, 23-year-old Mohammed Asfour, died on 7 March as a result of being “shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet” two weeks earlier.

In the face of these steadily intensifying challenges, Palestinian activists in the West Bank have in turn responded by accelerating several creative forms of direct action that have belatedly gained attention in recent years.

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Palestine’s Front Line: The Struggle for Susiya

ygurvitz, Flickr

Israel’s Supreme Court recently postponed hearing an appeal filed by community leaders of Susiya, a small and embattled village situated in the dramatically rolling terrain of the the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The struggle to save Susiya affirms the broader nature of life under an asphyxiating stripe of martial law: while the Israeli government employs both its formal—military—and informal—settlers—forces to further its colonial project, the indigenous inhabitants of the land exert laborious efforts to secure their existence.

Because Susiya has been dealt the unlucky fate of being where an illegal Israeli settlement was established in 1983, Regavim, a rightwing Israeli settler advocacy group, filed a petition protesting the court’s decision to delay the hearing and called on Israeli occupation forces to immediate implement pending demolition orders.

It differs little from hundreds of communities and villages across the West Bank: its residents live under the ever present threat of the military violence and settler attacks that characterize life under occupation. But in recent years, by executing popular struggles that draw the attention of media and activists, the village has chalked up several successes against the state’s attempts to forcefully dispossess them of their land.

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The Anti-Zionists Who Gave Their Votes To Palestine

Aslan Media – It’s been one week since Israelis voted to keep Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in power and brought a center-left party to greater prominence in the Knesset. Few Israelis considered the “Palestinian question” high on their list of priorities when deciding their vote, preferring instead to focus on economic or national security issues. Yet there are some especially social media savvy Israelis who have taken their commitment to achieving peace with Palestinians to a whole new level in this past election.

It began with a group of Israeli peace activists who put together a Facebook page for their campaign to “donate” their votes to Palestinians, for whom every aspect of their lives is affected by Israel’s policies, yet who are unequivocally ignored by the electoral process. The campaign was similar to one in the 2010 United Kingdom elections in which voters “donated” their ballots to people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Ghana. However, this small rebellion would be the first of its kind in Israel.

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Why The Palestinian State Of Mind Matters

Rusty Stewart, Flickr

Politics is inextricably bound up with everyday life in Palestine. This sentence at first sounds so obvious that it seems trite. Why bring it up now? The answer is simple: to highlight a largely ignored issue, Palestinian mental health, an issue that cannot be separated from the fact of Israeli military occupation and colonization.

For, among all the ink spilled on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, academics and journalists have largely ignored the crucial topic of Palestinian mental health. There are many probable reasons for this sidestepping, not least that to highlight this problem would be to spotlight Israel’s negative treatment of Palestinians: a subject that the US government, for one, would prefer to ignore.

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