Occupation takes over Liberty Hall November 7, 2007Posted by franklittle in Film, media, Media and Journalism, Middle East, Palestine.
We don’t report on too many events here but last night saw the European premiere of the 2006 documentary Occupation 101: Voices of the Silent Majority by Sufyan Omeish and Abdallah Omeish in Liberty Hall. Hosted by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign it was one of the best events I’ve been to in some time.
The main theatre at SIPTU HQ was packed to capacity with over 500 people including members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Mayor of Dublin and the filmmakers themselves attending. The film itself is outstanding, one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in some time and arguably one of the best ever made on Palestine, and for me its strength lies in two main characteristics.
Firstly, it manages in a 10-15 minute segment to introduce viewers to the evolution of the problem in Palestine beginning with an overview of what the country was like before large-scale Jewish immigration began in the late 19th century, accelerating due to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s. It’s probably the simplest and most concise explanation I’ve seen in a film of the population and demographic shifts, the actions of the British and the UN, and the immediate aftermath of the declaration of an Israeli state. On a number of occasions when the issue of Palestine has come up with non-political, or even political, friends someone has at one point said something along the lines of, “Okay, okay, but when you get right down to it, whose land is it exactly?”
Secondly, the filmmakers made a conscious decision that if this film was to make an impact on American audiences, the chief target, they would dispense with Palestinian or Arab ‘talking heads’. Numerous Palestinians are interviewed, but as victims of illegal Israeli land seizures, violence or various forms of military oppression. The experts and NGOs are almost universally American, Israeli or Jewish because the filmmakers, both Palestinian-Americans, believe that the instinctive reaction of many Americans, and particularly Jewish-Americans, to Arabs or Palestinians on television is to instinctively disbelieve or portray them as anti-semites. Hard to do when two of the people interviewed are Rabbis and many are Jewish.
Some other interesting points. The film stressed the financial cost to the United States of continuing to support an illegal occupation and heavily stressed the fact that the small Christian community that remains in the country is almost entirely Palestinian and interviews a number of American Christian leaders on that point. I was also surprised to see that the opening shots of the film were of British soldiers charging up a street in Derry. It’s followed by images from Algeria, the American Civil Rights Movement, South Africa and elsewhere as they try to stress the international nature of occupation and to put the struggle against the occupation in Palestine in the same context.
Judging by the crowds around the IPSC stall afterwards a roaring trade was being done in the DVD, available for 20 Euros a pop, and details of showings of the film across the country over the next few days:
Weds 7th Nov 2007
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Castletroy Park Hotel, Wednesday 7th November
(First event of new IPSC Donegal branch!)
Thurs 8th Nov 2007
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Abbey Theatre, Ballyshannon Thursday 8th November
Friday 9th November
Time: 7:00pm sharp
Venue: An Culturlann Theatre, 216 Falls Road, Belfast.
The showing will cost £5 waged and £3 unwaged.
Buy it or go see it and, as I did last night, bring a friend who doesn’t know much about it. They’ll thank you afterwards.