I recently attended a showing of the film “5 broken cameras” (http://www.kinolorber.com/5brokencameras/) organised by the Milton Keynes Palestine Solidarity Campaign (http://www.palestinecampaign.org/) (Congratulations to them for hosting such a great and well attended event.)
The film is made by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat and documents the building of the Israeli settlements near to his village, Bil’in. We see the separation wall being built and the brutal sight of ancient olive trees being lifted out of the ground by bulldozers, and later being torched by the settlers. This latter act was particularly shocking as if illegally stealing the land wasn’t enough, they also had to destroy the villagers’ livelihoods. Of course the film is made by one side of this conflict and I am struggling understand the settlers’ perspective.
One of the themes it explores is the challenges faced by non-violent activists. Early on in the film we see peaceful protestors being physically beaten by Israeli soldiers simply for protesting. Later in the film the soldiers seem to regularly use live ammunition on protestors armed simply with flags and banners; some protestors are killed. There’s a horrible scene where a handcuffed protestor is shot in the leg at point blank range.
I was recently involved with 6 other Christians in direct action in the UK against DSEi, the world’s largest arms fair hosted in London. Although it was frustrating that the police’s priority was to ensure the event passed off without any problems and thus protestors were not tolerated, actually the police were polite, patient and professional throughout. I cannot imagine protesting when my health and life might be in danger, and some of the footage of conversations with the protestors family demonstrated it was not an easy decision for them either.
Another chapter in the world’s catalogue of non-violent direct activism is being written.