WFWP Birmingham/UK, "5 Broken Cameras." A film about life in a Palestinian village.
"5 Broken Cameras." A film about life in a Palestinian village.
Women's Peace Meeting held in Birmingham, UK: Almost 100 women, in a packed house, gathered together to watch the very moving film "5 Broken Cameras", on the evening of April 22nd. The film details the non-violent resistance of Palestinian people to the occupation, and appropriation, of their land in the village of Bil'in, in the West Bank, through the eyes and the camera lens of local inhabitant Emad Burnat. Our women's group has shown great concern for the situation in Israel and the West Bank during the last 15 years or so. We heard from 2 ladies, Elana and Ibtisam, members of the Women's Interfaith Encounter group in Israel/West Bank, in 2000 when they came to speak at the Peace Meeting. Subsequently, during the period from 2003 to 2008, seven different groups of women, representing all faiths, travelled from Birmingham to the Holy Land as part of a wider international peace initiative, of which WFWP was a part. While there, we visited and spoke with people on both sides of the divide, and tried to support grass roots initiatives where Jews and Palestinians were working together. As a result of one visit, and having heard from members of the Bereaved Families Forum (Parents Circle & Families Forum), several ladies raised the money to sponsor 2 of the PCFF to visit the West Midlands for a week. Tamara, a Jewish mother whose son had been killed in the conflict, and Ali, a young Palestinian man whose brother had been killed, shot in the head at point blank range at a check-point, moved so many hearts and minds when they spoke together at a number of venues in Birmingham and Coventry. This included speaking to young people at Birmingham University (to the Jewish Society, where Muslim youth attended for the very first time), Coventry University, Moseley College, King David's School and King Edward's Camp Hill Girls School. Tamara and Ali, such great people, who have paid the ultimate price yet who refuse to bow to violence and retribution, are role models in the struggle for peace and reconciliation. We also invited Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, then Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, in 2008, to come to Birmingham. He has been working tirelessly for peace and reconciliation for many years, including a project in Nazareth for children from all 3 Abrahamic faiths to be able to study at school together. He spoke to members of the Women's Peace Group, and had lunch with several Christian leaders, in my home and then met with the Lord Mayor and his wife, Cllr Randall and Mrs Sandra Brew, who arranged for him to speak in the city's Council House to a packed audience which included Lord & Lady King, and Dr and Mrs Jagjit Taunque who represent Her Majesty the Queen in the West Midlands. During Bishop Riah's visit, we were able to raise several hundred pounds for his educational work with children in Nazareth. On the foundation of all this investment and concern for the situation in Israel/Palestine over the years, our women were eagerly anticipating the Peace Meeting on April 22nd, and many of us were moved to tears by the film '5 Broken Cameras', in particular the impact of violence on the lives of young children. It details the amazing example of one man in particular, Phil, a mentor for many of the children in the village, who constantly encouraged the children not to resort to violence, not to give in to their anger and to demonstrate peacefully, despite all the injustice and pain of the situation. However he is eventually killed, with dramatic consequences for the minds and hearts of the children, and their attitude towards the oppressors. Following the film, there were some deep thoughts and feelings expressed in our reflections, especially from our Jewish and Muslim women, and the time for candle-lit prayer was also very poignant. Donations were collected during and after the meeting, and £200 was given to members of the Stourbridge Quaker Group who are twinned with the village of Seir in Qalqilya. The money will go towards helping a Women's Cooperative there, supporting a number of small projects which they have initiated for themselves, their children and their childrens' school. Another lady, Janet, raised around £100 by selling quite a few bottles of 'Zaytoun' organic olive oil, Fairtrade and £7 each, produced by Palestinian farmers who have to pay high export taxes because there is no other way to sell their product other than via Israel. All in all, it was a disturbing but positive evening, and one which will linger long in the memory. We would strongly recommend the film to all who are concerned for peace in the Middle East. A Report by Patricia Earle Photo 2. Ibtisam and Elana spoke to us back in 2000 Photo 3. Bridge of Peace Ceremony overlooking Jerusalem Photo 4. Visiting Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem Photo 5. Tamara Rabinowitz speaking at the Peace Meeting Photo 6. Bishop Riah discussing with Marjorie Saunders Photo 7. Lunch with Anglican and Methodist leaders Photo 8. Meeting the Lord Mayor and his wife in 'the parlour' Photo 9. With Lord and Lady King in a packed Council House