Separation of Identity.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”.
~ Robert Frost, The Mending Wall
Don’t miss Budrus! A visualization of Israeli-Palestinian barriers, dialogue, and cooperative activism.
There is an old saying that goes something like this, “good fences make good neighbors.” Perhaps Robert Frost is best known for his use of the proverb in his poem The Mending Wall (1914). Logically, a fence may help parties visualize a recognized and accepted boundary line. Fences may enhance relationships by simply keeping unintended, as well as intended, encroachments upon a neighbor from occurring. However, fences may have negative connotations. A fence may limit the free exercise of natural rights. It may become a wall, where one party excludes another party from equal ingress and egress to property, free social intercourse, and self-determination. As Frost so aptly points out, “there is something in nature that inherently dislikes a wall.” Frost supports the premise that while fences do have positive uses to protect the person and property, they may become walls affecting the potential for interaction and cooperation. In short, they may become barriers to meaningful communication.
Anyone who has visited Israel and traveled to the West Bank will surely admit that the separation wall or security fence, whichever you prefer to call it, is an ugly sight. It snakes its way through the Israeli-Palestinian hills and valleys. In some places it is concrete covered with graffiti. In other places it is mesh and razor wire. It disrupts family life, work, school, medical attention, and travel. As in Frost’s poem, many people support the wall calling it a legitimate means by which to protect life and property, while others call it illegitimate occupation that oppresses and ostracizes life and property. Herein lies the crux of Budrus; is there a way to balance these needs?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have reviewed the film Budrus several times. Each time I have pondered various aspects of this film. To my amazement, I find new things to consider each time. The film’s message seems clear on three points. First, that Israel is oppressing the Palestinian people. Second, that the wall is a means to secure Palestinian land that has become occupied by settlers. Third, the separation is designed to uproot the occupied people from their lands, villages, schools, homes, and livelihoods, much of which is agricultural. Director Julia Bacha inspires me. She presents a definite pro-Palestinian point of view, tempered by interviews with border police and IDF persons. Her message is that “cooperative activism” can work, even if only one step at a time.
Bacha centers the film around the village of Budrus. Like many villages of the West Bank, Budrus was scheduled for the proximate construction of the separation/security wall. It is a village of about 1,500 people, its livelihood centered on its olive production. The fight against construction of the wall has been lived out in many West Bank villages. Villagers have fought to try to save their lands. Faced with modern military weapons and bulldozers each has lost to the construction of the wall. However, in Budrus, an old type of solidarity was used to fight the wall. With bulldozers in sight, the villagers, headed by a local citizen Ayed Morrar, sought to carry out a nonviolent protest. As the events unfold, we see the birth of a call for nonviolent coöperation among the Palestinian people. This call is not just a male driven social-political movement. As it evolved, it attracted the involvement of women. The IDF and border police are stunned. Did the protest remain peaceful? Did the effort gain support from some unlikely members of the regional community? What was the response of the IDF, border police, and the Israeli government? You will have to watch this film to answer these questions for yourself.
Regardless your own conclusions about the film and its message you will have the opportunity to listen to points of view that are not often spoken of in the media today. For this reason alone, I find this film noteworthy. The production and editing are very good. The video is stark, the music creatively captures the mood, and the audio is clear and graphically complements the photography. Perhaps one reason I viewed the film several times is that the film packages a great deal of information into its 81 minute running time. For this reason, viewers may wish to view it at least twice. Nonetheless, filmmaker Julia Bacha is to be commended for this undertaking. The Just Vision webpages for Budrus provide abundant resources about the project, Just vision, education guides, and add screening guides. These materials will enhance any group screening activity and help facilitate discussion. This film may be purchased at TypeCast Releasing. An excellent sponsored Trailer is available on YouTube
Director: Julia Bacha
Producers: Ronit Avni, Julia Bacha, & Rula Salameh
Released: JUST VISION
Awards: This film has numerous awards. For a full list of awards, see the Distributor’s link below.
Distribution: TYPECAST Releasing
Language: Arabic, Hebrew, English, w/ English sub-titles.
Malcolm L. Rigsby is a faculty member in the department of sociology at Henderson State University, Arkansas. He is completing his Ph.D.(abd), at Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas. In 1979 he received his B.A.T. from Sam Houston State University, in History and Education with a minor in Sociology. He holds his J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law (1989) and is a licensed attorney in Arkansas and Texas. He is active in the independent review of documentary film.