This post is not so much about what the Oscar nominee Emad Burnat says. It's more about things he doesn't mention.
Burnat's and Guy Davidi's documentary 5 Broken Cameras has been nominated this year for the prestigious Oscar awards. It's about the weekly demonstrations in the palestinian village of Bil'in. It can be watched online here.
Burnat wrote an opinion article at Huffington Post. It's what I call a paper schweitzer - you know, that cheese full of holes, more air than substance. The tricky part is that his holes are strategically placed in spots where real substance would have damaged the case he's trying so hard to make. Like this little hollow gem:
That's because, on any given day, there are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks, and other obstacles to movement throughout the West Bank -- an area less than 2 percent the size of California on which some 2.5 million Palestinians live under a ubiquitous system of repression.You have to admire the man's ability to pack so many half-truths, omissions, and outright lies in so small a paragraph. Kinda reminds me all those unsuccessful attempts to close the lid on an overstuffed suitcase. In this case, however, the lid must be thrown wide open, which is much easier, believe me.
I've never bothered to check the number of roadblocks and such throughout the West Bank. I remember a time when there weren't any of those "obstacles to movement", not in the West Bank, not in Gaza. A time when people travelled freely both ways - to and from Israel. A time when buses and cafes in Israel exploded at least twice a week, when palestinian workers took out kinves and murdered their employers or just passers-by on the streets, when mothers wouldn't take their kids to malls or other crowded places because fun could rapidly become very dangerous those days. To claim that the checkpoints are merely the actions of a system of repression, which is what Burnat does, is an outright lie. The so called obstacles are our way of defending our lives. Sorry to bother such an important person like an Oscar nominee with such trivial matters as few israeli lives, but they seem rather important from our side of the fence. Um...let's see: checkpoints versus exploding/knife-wielding allahu akhbar shouting cold-blooded terrorists. Tough choice - not!
"...some 2.5 million Palestinians live under a ubiquitous system of repression" - it seems that Burnat, although a talented cameraman, is not so bright when it comes to simple math. Only about 150,000 palestinian arabs live in area C, where Bil'in is, under partial israeli control. The rest, up to 2.5 milion, live in areas under the Palestinian Authority control. Could the PA be what he really meant by "ubiquitous system of repression"? If so, I'm in the rather unpleasant position of agreeing with the man. No point in arguing with the truth, I always say.
Coming up next, a really, really big hole in the paper schweitzer. I can't believe Burnat isn't aware of the twists and turns of Bil'in residents' legal battle against the israeli authorities, yet he chooses to write about "Israelis and Palestinians who understand that the true meaning of peace [...] is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice". Um...tricky. The "presence of justice" is exactly what the people of Bil'in are not interested in, since they have already sued the israeli authorities - more than once - and won - mostly, but, as we'll see, justice wasn't quite what they wanted. From the above linked judgement (pages 5,6):
In accordance with the procedural agreement between the parties, a survey in the field with counsel of the petitioners in HCJ 11363/04 (Ms. Atiyah, adv.) and with representatives of the village of Bil'in was held on December 22 2004. During the survey Ms. Atiyah was given the map of scheme 210/8. It appears, from the State's response to that petition, that despite what had been stipulated, Ms. Atiyah did not appear at a meeting with respondents regarding sections C and D and did not relay any written response regarding those sections. At the opening of the hearing of said petition, it was relayed on behalf of Ms. Atiyah that the petitioners are rescinding their petition, and the petition was abated (on February 16 2005). The petition having been abated, respondents began implementation of sequestration order Tav/40/04 (Boundary Alteration) and the erection of the fence.
10. After just a few days a number of residents of Bil'in, represented by Ms. Atiya, adv., submitted a new petition (on February 21 2005; HCJ 1778/05). That petition was based on the argument that the fence construction work had begun without them having been given the right to a hearing and to appeal. The new petition did not mention the previous petition, which had been abated at the petitioners' request. At the end of the hearing of that petition, the Court ordered the abatement of the petition due to unclean hands (on March 3 2005).
Sorry for the lengthy quote. As can be clearly seen, the villagers of Bil'in have already won their petition.But then, they willingly canceled it, only to file a new complaint days later. Does it make any sense to you?
So...what justice are you talking about, Emad Burnat? The one you had but did not want?
Maybe a glimpse at those nonviolent demonstrations would shed some light on this rather puzzling matter:
Unclean hands, indeed.