On Sat., Jan. 12, 2013, nonviolent activist Iyad Burnat will present his brother's award-winning film, "5 Broken Cameras," at an evening event featuring a light supper of Palestinian food and personal stories and photos about the struggle of Bil'in, a village near Ramallah in the West Bank. -- Iyad Burnat is on a three-month tour of the U.S. to raise consciousness about the Israeli occupation and nonviolent Palestinian resistance. -- Details below. -- This event is free and is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace....
WHAT: An evening on Palestinian nonviolent resistance
WHO: Iyad Burnat
WHEN: Saturday, January 12, 2013 -- 5:00 p.m.
WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Ave. South, Tacoma, WA 98402
Iyad Burnat, nonviolent activist from Bil'in on the West Bank, has been on tour in the U.S. since November. He will be in Tacoma on Saturday, January 12, 2013, at 5:00 p.m., First United Methodist Church. "An Evening on Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance includes an award-winning film, Palestinian food, and personal stories & photos from a visiting Palestinian resistance leader, Iyad Burnat, whose brother made the film "5 Broken Cameras."
Enjoy a light supper of Palestinian finger food, and see the award-winning film "5 Broken Cameras." (In addition to numerous awards already won, "5 Broken Cameras" is now being considered for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.) Then Iyad Burnat will tell stories about his life in the West Bank under Israeli military occupation and talk about how he and his group are nonviolently resisting the Apartheid Wall and the occupation of their land.
There is no admission charge for this event.
* * *
Posted below, as additional background, are two articles of interest. The first is written by a Canadian woman who visited Burnat in his home in October 2012. The second article reports on Burnat's visit to Au Clair, Wisconsin, in December 2012.
WATCHING, AND EXPERIENCHING, 'FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS' IN BIL'IN
By Alice Rothchild
October 18, 2012
The last time I went to Bil'in was in January 2011 for a frightening, exhilarating, tear-gas-filled Friday demonstration against the wall. This time, not only did we arrive on a Wednesday (no demonstrations), but conditions have changed dramatically, though not barely enough. From Birzeit we headed southwest, past the infamous Ofer Prison in the distance, through stunning rugged, rocky landscape, terraced with silvery olive trees, contrasting dark green figs, up and down ear-popping hills, winding through tiny towns with tall thin minnerets, lush fuscia-colored bougainvillea, mansions built by wealthy U.S. Palestinians erupting from the hillsides. As we approach the tiny town of Bil'in, the Jewish settlement of Modi'in Illit appears like a mirage in the distance, a haze of tall apartment buildings dominating miles of hilltops. This is as close to a pilgrimage as I get.
We are met by Iyad Burnat, the brother of the man featured in the recently released film, "Five Broken Cameras." Smart, focused, handsome, and deeply committed to nonviolent civil disobedience, he takes us through the area of the previous demonstrations, now littered with tear gas cannisters and other military detritus. His young daughter gradually warms up to her latest guests, smiling for photos, and holding onto her father. Ironically Caterpillar bulldozers are rebuilding the terraces and farming areas that were destroyed by the previous wall, i.e. the high security fence, sensors, and military roads. This was built to separate the town of Bil'in from the rapidly expanding settlement of Modi'in Illit, simultaneously stealing much of the land belonging to the village.
In some strange way this feels like sacred space, where unarmed men and women, local villagers and internationals, famous leaders and unknown teenagers, people chanting, singing, yelling, beating drums, waving flags, faced down one of the most powerful, aggressive military powers in the world and won a small significant victory. Now that the wall has been taken down, I see a playground with brightly colored slides and climbing structures, near completion by the side of the road. Such dangerous terrorists, these villagers! Imagine building a playground. What will they think of next? What a strange mix of the bizarre and the extreme. What an immense tragedy for the Palestinians fighting this battle and for the soldiers so brutalized that they are able to fire and beat and tear-gas and violate unarmed civilians: just following orders.
While Iyad described the popular struggle, the violent response from the Israeli military, the horrific cost to the villagers and their families, I walked along the current wall, this one concrete with double rows of wide loops of barbed wire beside the off-limits military road. The cranes from Modi'in were easily visible over the wall, the struggle is far from over, the land grab continues all over the West Bank.
Filled with emotion, horror, encouragement, we gather in Iyad's living room and meet his four friendly children and gracious wife serving thick Arabic coffee followed by painfully sweet tea. They have spent seven years building this house and recently moved in. He turns on the VCR and we find ourselves watching "Five Broken Cameras," reliving the stories, the violated landscape, the spirited villagers,the brutality of the soldiers. It is surreal and almost too painful to bear.
The conversation afterwards, however, is powerful and inspiring. Iyad is focused on teaching and building a nonviolent movement for civil action throughout the territories. Other villages are joining the struggle. He will be touring with the film in the U.S. shortly. He is absolutely clear that he is not fighting the Jews, he is not fighting for a few more dunams of farm land, he is fighting the occupation. He is not only doing this for himself, but for his four children who have grown up tasting tear gas and fearing Israelis. He is determined to create a better life for all of them.
PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST SEEKS U.S. SUPPORTERS
By Eric Lindquist
Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)
December 10, 2012
After a lifetime of resistance against Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, Iyad Burnat isn't the kind of guy to sugarcoat his message for Americans.
"America gives $3.5 billion a year to the Israeli army, and that money is used to buy weapons that kill our kids," the Palestinian activist said Monday night in Eau Claire. "And most of these weapons are made in the United States."
Burnat, who is one month into a three-month U.S. tour to spread his message about the hardships imposed on the 1,900 residents of his Palestinian village by the Israeli occupation, addressed about 50 people Monday at Unitarian Universalist Church and will speak at another event tonight at UW-Eau Claire. Both presentations are in conjunction with showings of "5 Broken Cameras," a Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary made by his brother that chronicles the struggles of their village, Bil'in.
Burnat, 39, is a leader of Bil'in's nonviolent demonstrations that have taken place every Friday for the past eight years against the building of an Israeli separation wall through the community's agricultural lands and the steady encroachment of Israeli settlements. He accused the Israeli government of confiscating 60 percent of Palestinian land, including many 500- to 1,000-year-old olive trees that the Palestinian farmers depend on to make a living.
The demonstrators, often joined by Israeli activists and international supporters, routinely tie themselves to olive trees and place themselves in crates in front of bulldozers to protest the Israeli actions. But despite their nonviolent methods, Burnat said 40 Palestinians (including two of his friends from the village) have been killed and more than 1,300 have been injured in the struggle.
They are buoyed by their limited successes, he said, pointing out Israel moved the wall back 500 meters in 2007 and halted construction of a planned apartment building on Palestinian land.
"We continue every week because we have hope that we could have our freedom next week," said Burnat, a father of four children younger than 15.
"Iyad is one of the most courageous people I've ever met," said Cathy Sultan, the Eau Claire woman who organized the visit and has written several books about the Middle East. She noted that he has persisted in the human rights struggle despite being arrested and tortured 10 times, spending two years in jail after the first arrest at age 17.
"It's amazing to me the resilience of these people and their willingness to carry on because they know they're right -- it's their land and no one else's land," Sultan said.
The tour is a way to get the truth out to Americans, many of whom don't realize what's going on in Palestine, said Burnat, who believes U.S. residents receive mostly a distorted message that is filtered through Israeli media.
Yet because of U.S. political and military support for Israel, Burnat said, "I think the Palestinian people feel that the American people are part of the occupation."
His goal is to get the American public to put pressure on their government to stop supporting the Israeli occupation.
Sultan, who has stayed with Burnat while leading three Interfaith Peace Builders delegations to Palestine, supports the need to get his message out.
"My aim," she said, "is to show there are two sides to the story and we only hear one."