NEW YORK — On October 18th at the Quad Cinema in NY’s Greenwich Village there was a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Budrus”, sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, Resistance Cinema and several other groups. The film is about a small Palestinian agricultural village on the West Bank which happens to be one of 6 villages that is about to be surrounded by the wall that Israel is building. The wall will separate the village of Budrus from 300 acres of their land and will destroy their olive trees.
As the film opens we are introduced to Ayed Morrar, a peaceful Palestinian activist who says, “We don’t have time for war. We want to raise our kids in peace and hope.” Morrar organizes the men in the village to peacefully protest the route the wall is to take. After the first few days his 15 year old daughter, Iletzam, tells her father that the women of the village should be included in the protest too. The men agree to this and the dynamic changes as the militant women, young and old, stand in the way of the bulldozers. Both Fatah and Hamas members work in unity, as the peaceful demonstrators are joined by justice-minded Israelis and International Solidarity Movement volunteers. The unity among all participants is extraordinary.
Eventually the Israelis become very violent, beating the demonstrators, firing live ammunition, occupying the village, but except for an occasional rock thrown by some of the village boys, the people of Budrus and their allies remain non-violent.
In the end, after 55 demonstrations in 10 months, and despite the words of an IDF spokesman who says that it will never happen, the route of the wall is changed.
As the lights were turned on in the full theater, Julia Bacha, the director, addressed the crowd. She said that the film was opening in many countries, including Israel, and that there would even be a showing in Gaza. She is planning to take the film from town to town across the West Bank in hope that villages that have been fighting the wall without success and have become discouraged will become revitalized after seeing the success in Budrus. She also said that she has often been asked why there is no Palestinian Gandhi. She pointed to Ayed Morrar as just such an example.
Joseph Dana wrote in Desertpeace.com (10/23/10) that over the past couple of days peaceful demonstrators tried to protest the occupation in Al Ma’asara and Nabi Saleh. The IDF responded with tear gas, sound bombs, shooting both with rubber coated bullets and live ammunition, and arrests. In Sheikh Jarrar former President Jimmy Carter joined an anti-occupation demonstration. With the IDF consistently responding violently to peaceful protests we have to wonder just how many other Palestinian Gandhis are behind the bars of Israeli prisons.