Film: Gaza in Context

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 The Full 20-Minute Narrative
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“I did not think it was possible to examine in 20 minutes what Gaza in Context  does with such compelling clarity: Israeli policies toward Gaza and Palestine, which are inseparable; the core problems affecting Gaza and the deliberateness of the policies that have led to Gaza’s disablement; Gaza’s centrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and some common myths surrounding Gaza and the history of the conflict overall, which are straightforwardly debunked.
An immensely valuable teaching tool, the film’s power also lies in its fundamental humanity, a heartfelt entreaty to end the oppression and violence so that all people in this tortured part of the world may aspire to a future in which their children can flourish.–Dr. Sara Roy, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University 

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Oscars Celebrities #SkipTheTrip to Israel!

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Ramah Kudaimi, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 22 Feb 2017

With the Academy Awards fast approaching this Sunday, it’s been a full year since Israel offered all-expenses-paid trips to 2016 Oscars host Chris Rock and 25 top nominees including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Mark Rylance, and Cate Blanchett. The Israeli tourism ministry organized the trip with hopes that the superstars would use their platforms to show Israel in a positive light, countering worldwide outrage over Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

So what happened? It was an utter failure. One year later, it appears that not a single star visited Israel. Last night, the AFP wire service ran this extraordinary headline appearing in many media outlets, “Israel invited 26 Oscar stars to visit. So far none has.

Bringing celebrities to Israel has long been part of a “Brand Israel” strategy to improve the country’s image abroad. As Israeli tourism minister Yariv Levin explained last year, “These are the most senior people in the film industry in Hollywood and leading opinion-formers who we are interested in hosting. Their visit will have enormous resonance among millions of fans and followers, including social media.” But as of this week, the Israeli tourism ministry would not confirm any visits by the stars, and there was no evidence of trips on social media.

It seems that the harder Israel tries to improve its image, the worse it fails. Yesterday’s news comes on the heels of former Super Bowl star Michael Bennett and several other NFL stars also choosing to #SkipTheTrip that they were offered by Israel.

Far from achieving their desired effect, these propaganda trips give us an opportunity to create broader awareness about the Israeli government’s brutal policies and attempts to whitewash them. While not every celebrity will turn down such offers, our cultural boycott campaigns are ensuring that every celebrity facing the choice must now consider the Israeli government’s cynical motivations and the impact on Palestinian communities struggling to survive.

That’s why days after the Oscars trips were announced last February, the US Campaign helped organize a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli, European, and U.S. organizations to launch a #SkipTheTrip campaign including a petition to the stars, individual letters to actors, and a comprehensive social media strategy. The dynamic campaign included creative memes, a comical video, and a satirical invitation from the legendary Brian Eno highlighting the types of “holiday” experiences one could have visiting Palestine like being interrogated, tear-gassed, beaten, and shot at.

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Mideast Can’t Even Agree on What ‘One-State Solution’ Means

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a joint news conference at the White House last Wednesday.President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a joint news conference at the White House last Wednesday (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, The Associated Press).

Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View, February 20, 2017

For the last several years it has been increasingly common to hear Israelis and Palestinians alike say that the two-state solution to their struggles is dead and that the time has come to discuss a one-state solution.

President Donald Trump acknowledged that trend during a news conference last Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by saying that he is “looking at two states and at one state” while remaining open to whichever suits the parties.

There’s just one problem: “One-state solution” means something almost completely different on each of the two sides. Years of negotiation and debate have created the general contours of a two-state solution, but when people speak of one-state options, they lack that common ground.

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. supports a two-state solution, but “we are thinking out of the box as well.” What might that mean for the Palestinians, for starters? (I’ll restrict this discussion to vaguely realistic visions that could be reached by compromise, not force — so I won’t consider the disappearance of either the Jewish state or the Palestinian national cause.)

For most Palestinian one-staters, the ideal is a democratic state offering equal citizenship rights to everyone living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, both Jews and Arabs. The state could be federated into two parts, so that each side would enjoy a majority in its own areas. Jerusalem might be treated as its own federal unit or divided between the two federations with shared responsibility for the Temple Mount.

In this picture, all citizens would be allowed to travel freely through the state and across federation lines. Probably all would be allowed to live wherever they chose.

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Israeli forces raid At Tuwani after women and children’s nonviolent action

Operation Dove, February 12, 2017

More information on Operation Dove

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This Saturday morning residents of the Palestinian village of At Tuwani were grazing sheep and enjoying a day of outdoor picnics when Israeli soldiers entered the village en masse, turning the peaceful village into a military theatre. The raid appeared to be part of the price paid by residents for their nonviolent resistance to settler violence in the South Hebron Hills:  twice in recent weeks Palestinians have gathered to peacefully plant olive trees on Palestinian land on the outskirts of the village, near the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on.

On the morning of February 11 more than a dozen Israeli soldiers entered the village in military vehicles. The heavily armed soldiers forced their way into houses and courtyards and began questioning the inhabitants, demanding to see all of their children between the ages of 13 and 18. They ordered Palestinians who asked for an explanation for the raid to show their ID’s, and forced several young men to spread their arms against buildings and cars while soldiers searched their bodies and clothing at gunpoint. The soldiers showed no official orders for the raid, but moved from house to house throughout the morning, questioning men and women, terrifying the children, and violating the human rights of the Palestinian residents of At Tuwani. Soldiers also demanded to see the passports of Operation Dove volunteers who were filming the raid.

Saturday’s military invasion was the second time in ten days that Israeli soldiers have completely disrupted work and life in the village of At Tuwani, and it will likely not be the last.  Before leaving the village this Saturday the soldiers threatened to return in the night.

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Operation Dove’s campaign #TogetherAtTuwani provides volunteers in the South Hebron Hills to support Palestinian shepherds as they remain on their land and choose to use nonviolent means, along with Israeli activists, to protect their lives and rights.

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2 Palestinians killed, 5 injured in reported airstrike on southern Gaza tunnel

Ma’an News Agency, Feb. 9, 2017

The bodies of Hussam al-Sufi and Muhammad al-Aqraa, two Palestinians killed in an airstrike in southern Gaza on Feb. 9, 2017.

GAZA (Ma’an) — Two Palestinians were killed and five were injured during a reported airstrike on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt and Gaza on Wednesday night, official Palestinian sources said.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said on Thursday that Hussam Hamid al-Sufi, 24, from the town of Rafah, and Muhammad Anwar al-Aqraa, a 38-year-old resident of Gaza City, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, while five other Palestinians were injured.

An Israeli army spokesperson however denied to Ma’an that the army was involved in the reported strike.

However, Israeli media stated that the alleged tunnel attack came in the wake of four rockets being fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula towards the southern Israeli city of Eilat, which were later claimed by the so-called Islamic State group. No casualties were reported in the incident.

The casualties came in the wake of multiple airstrikes launched by the Israeli army inside the Gaza Strip on Monday which injured two Palestinians, after a rocket that landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel.

The Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern on Tuesday that Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive.

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What really happened in the Umm Al-Hiran “terrorist attack”

New video deals another blow to Israeli police version of Umm al-Hiran raid

Last month as Israel tried to evict its Arab citizens from the village of Umm Al-Hiran in the Negev, they said that they had killed a “terrorist” (actually a local teacher) who tried to ram them with a car, killing one officer.

Palestinian witnesses told a different story, and now video has emerged that shows they were right. This incident (and the demolition of the village to make way for a Jewish-only settlement) sparked enormous outrage inside Israel among Palestinians, resulting in a day of general strike.

Last week Musa Abu al-Qi’an, 100-year-old resident of Umm Al-Hiran and father of the killed teacher who was featured in many news stories, passed away. He survived the Nakba and everything before and since, but did not survive the death of his son.

Ma’an News Agency, 12 Feb 2017

NEGEV (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — A new video broadcast by Israeli Channel 10 on Saturday further weakened Israel police claims regarding a deadly January raid in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, showing that Israeli forces shot at a Bedouin man’s vehicle when he did not constitute a threat.

The video showed Israeli officers opening fire at the car of Umm al-Hiran resident Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an on Jan. 18, as he was slowly driving past with his headlights on, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and hit police officer Erez Levi.

Both Abu al-Qi‘an and Levi were killed in the incident.

The Channel 10 report added that Umm al-Hiran residents were still calling for an official investigation to the case, particularly regarding their assertions that Levi had in fact been killed by friendly fire.

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