Creating people's geographies
I bought this 2002 documentary, Gaza Strip, only a few days ago. The expression of the boy on the dvd cover, he looks maybe ten, twelve, haunted me. It is the eyes of a boy who has known sorrow as well as strength, who has seen too much for his young age.
He turns out to be Mohammed Hajezi, a 13 year-old Palestinian boy and newspaper-seller. Despite his limited schooling, he is extremely articulate in his moving narration, describing life under Israeli
imprisonment military occupation in the Gaza Strip (Occupied Palestinian Territories — see map below) and how he has witnessed his own friends being shot at Karni Crossing by Israeli soldiers, including the fatal shooting of his best friend.
The worldliness of the young group of stone-throwing boys at the start is striking. The sometime resignation, sometime bravado and the expressions of hope of Gazans despite Israel’s crimes are heart-rendering. The effects of the horrific experimental weapons used by Israel (thirty minute mark) is shocking and appalling, as is how the inhumane conditions are robbing both children and adult Gazans (two women at the sixty minute mark) of faith in the future and the will to live.
This is what the US federal government is bankrolling for Israel: death, destruction, despair, dispossession, apartheid, bulldozing of homes and the imprisonment and strangling of a whole people. The Gaza Strip is just 28 miles long and 4 miles wide, yet home to over 1,200,000 Palestinians, making it one of the most densely populated areas on the planet.
Kudos to award-winning American director James Longley for filming this most compelling and important documentary. May it awaken the conscience of those not already aware of what is happening.
In January of 2001, American director James Longley traveled to the Gaza Strip. His plan was to stay for two weeks to collect preliminary material for a documentary film on the Palestinian Intifada. It was during his stay that Ariel Sharon was elected as Israeli Prime Minister. As violence erupted around him, Longley threw away his return ticket and filmed for the next three months, acquiring nearly 75 hours of footage.
Gaza Strip, his first feature documentary, is an extraordinary and painful journey into the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip struggling with the day-to-day trials of the Israeli occupation. Filmed in verité style and without narration, Gaza Strip at last gives voice to a population largely ignored by mainstream media.
Map: shows tiny Gaza Strip on the west coast and the West Bank on the right hand side of Israel. These two territories make up Occupied Palestine, territorially discontiguous and still subject to the building of illegal Israeli settlements further encroaching upon Palestinian land.
RT: 74 minutes
* Buy it at Palestine Online
* Film’s official website
* Leslie Smith, Forgotten by History
* Nigel Parry, James Longley’s Gaza Strip
Well said, Ann.
One point two million people in this small area sounds like a concentration camp to me.
This tells me a great deal about us Americans, who pay Israel to maintain people in this condition. Our character is revealed by what we do, not what we say. How we regard others is how we regard ourselves. If we can imagine no other way to live than this, then we are the ones in prison. We who cannot imagine.
I am strangely no longer ashamed. I see now that this is how we treat each other too. We are already in Hell.
Thanks, Serv. After I had viewed it, little Muhammad’s eyes no longer seemed to haunt me, I actually felt better after watching it—after bearing witness.
We can each in our own ways help, I’m sure you know. And people are doing this everyday, especially some exceptional Americans. And as we see, James Longely is one of them.
So do go a bit easier on the collective American self, my dear friend, this certainly wasn’t intended to shame you. Gear you into (some) action, now that’s a more desirable outcome! ;) If shame can transmute into some advocacy and action, then that’s better — as an American you do have more sway here, you know.
If this is in fact a terrible projection of (part of) the US and Israel national characters, it is not irredeemable. If we are all in some collective way complicit, we are all also endowed with ways to draw attention to, alleviate, attend to and reverse the situation, and it is incumbent upon us to make an effort.
The Berlin Wall fell, South African apartheid ended (at least formally), social justice struggles around the world are succeeding.
This terrible situation can not last indefinitely and we can and will imagine and enact a different, better scenario, for all our sakes.
If there are Hells on earth, there are also Heavens. And when we realize that just as our societies are only as strong as the weakest link, our global village is only as strong as the way we treat the most vulnerable.
Yes, this is a terrible indictment upon Israel primarily, and the US government secondarily. But a lot of Americans aren’t even aware of this, as the name of the organization If Americans Knew, suggests.
Countering, correcting and displacing the tide of dis- and mis-information, negative stereotypes, fear and hate in the corporate mainstream media is one way we can help. Its not a monolithic institution anyway, there are surprising rays of light. There’s a Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) for a Bill O’Reilly (Fox), for example. The unduly powerful Israel Lobby is also being challenged increasingly.
As an outsider, I do not see how you live or your cultural climate as closely as you do. But being outside also has some advantages, and the distance confers some faith that the better part of the collective American character may be appealed to yet.
All is not lost.
All is never lost.
As Abe Lincoln (I think) once said, “This too shall pass.”