5% Digest (week 16/03/15)

According to SIPRI’s latest report, there is a 16% increase in the volume of arms transferred around the world. The world’s biggest arms exporters in the past five years were the US, Russia, China, Germany and France. China’s exports of major arms rose by 143% in the five years to 2014 from the previous five years. Germany’s arms exports fell by 43% and France’s dropped 27% in the same time frame.

India was the world’s largest single arms importer. Four other Asian countries, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Singapore, are also among the top 10 largest arms importers.
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5% Digest (January 2015)

It is reported by Guardian that the Pentagon’s internal watchdog has questioned the air force’s increased spending on drones, suggesting its $8.8 billions spending on 46 armed Reaper drones is a waste of money.

As purchases of General Atomics’s MQ-9 Reaper ballooned from 60 aircraft in 2007 to the current 401, air force officials did not justify the need for an expanding drone fleet, the Pentagon said.

During that time, costs for purchasing one of the signature counter-terrorism weapons of Barack Obama’s presidency increased by 934%, from $1.1bn to more than $11.4bn, according to a declassified September report by the Pentagon inspector general. Purchasing costs are a fraction of what the drones cost to operate and maintain over their time in service: in 2012, the Pentagon estimated the total costs for them at $76.8bn.

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5% Digest (September 2014)

Journalist Ahmed provided a brief history of the rise of Islamic State, arguing the complicity of US and British in its creation and rise through deliberate tactical actions, ill-conceived policies and indirect/direct financial support.

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.

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Leila Sansour prepares to return to Bethlehem

Leila Sansour prepares to return to Bethlehem

Palestinian film director Leila Sansour is fighting to keep her home town of Bethlehem open as the Israeli barrier slowly carves up and strangles the city, capturing Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. Leila’s next film The Road to Bethlehem will document five year’s of the wall’s construction and its impact on Leila and her community. Here, Leila shares her thoughts with Tipping Point Film Fund’s supporters.

I spent last month in London discussing plans for the release of my film. This is an industry where you have to plan ahead, especially when you are on a shoestring budget. A producer once told me to think of a film as a triangle with the three sides labelled: ‘Good’ ‘Cheap’ and ‘Fast’. She told me, you can only ever have two sides of the triangle at a time, never three. The result is, we are going slow. Being in London gave me a chance to vote in the General Election. As usual, I had British foreign policy on my mind, so while my friends discussed the economy, taxes and immigration, my thoughts were far away, with a people on the other side of the Mediterranean.

Last week our team took a meeting with a potential partner in the States. As usual, I found myself explaining the wall. “It does not encircle Bethlehem as you might think,” I say. “It cuts the entire area into two parcels, with the urban part on one side and the countryside on the other, cutting the farmland off from the town. Once the wall is complete the townspeople will be shunted into just 13 per cent of the original Bethlehem, while Israeli settlements expand into the rest.” The information causes consternation – not least among members of my team, as I discover later. This is the real challenge: when something is so absurd it is very difficult to communicate what it is really happening, even to the most interested and sympathetic friends.

I return to Bethlehem next week to resume the work of editing. I also resume my role as the director of Open Bethlehem, a campaign against the wall. A key part of my activities is providing fact-finding tours to politicians, diplomats, clergy and media. I distinctly remember one very earnest lady joining us on a summer day. After a tour of the wall we ended up at the highest point in Bethlehem, overlooking an expanse of settlements. This woman sat on a rock in bewilderment and devastation. The first thing she said when she opened her mouth was: “I do not understand this. Surely if this is really happening to the Palestinians, the whole world would be up in arms”. The world is not up in arms, but this lady is. She is Jewish-American and she travels the length and breadth of the US to tell our story. I hope my film will bring the reality of Bethlehem to many around the world who cannot make the journey – and that it will encourage others to visit my still beautiful, fast-disappearing city.

To find out more about The Road to Bethlehem or to watch a clip from the film, click here.

If you’d like to support The Road to Bethlehem please donate here and mark your donation ‘The Road to Bethlehem’.