The Guardian reports (10th December) President Macron’s comment that recent US moves on the status of Jerusalem are a threat to peace. They are much more than that.
In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city.
The Palestinian people of Jerusalem are already subject to municipal discrimination at every level, and a creeping process of ethnic cleansing. In addition to the continuing policy of house demolitions, in the last fifteen years, at least thirty-five Palestinian public institutions and NGOs in occupied East Jerusalem have been permanently or temporarily closed by the occupying forces. Cultural institutions have been a particular target.
At the same time Israeli authorities and entrepreneurs have spent millions in clearing Palestinian neighbourhoods to create ‘heritage’ projects that promote a myth of mono-ethnic urban identity, said to stretch back 3000 years.
We reject Trump’s collusion with such racist manipulation, and his disregard for international law. We deplore his readiness to crown the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem and his indifference to Palestinian rights.
As artists and as citizens, we challenge the ignorance and inhumanity of these policies, and celebrate the resilience of Palestinians living under occupation.
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.
10 years since the Wall was declared illegal.
As part of our Bethlehem Unwrapped festival
we commissioned film-maker Tom Pursey to record all aspects of the event – from the construction (and subsequent public impact) of the 8m high life size replica WALL that was built in front of St James’s Piccadilly, through to all the live events that spanned our two week festival.
We are releasing our short film to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the declaration in 2004 by the International Court of Justice in The Hague (a UN body) that the barrier being built around the West Bank was illegal and should be pulled down.
We hope you enjoy the film – do feel free to share the link
PALESTINIAN INHIBITION IN THE WALLED CITY OF BETHLEHEM
Leila Sansour writes about her and her family’s experience of life growing up under Israeli occupation. Reflecting on the past 45 years, she wonders how the future will unfold – not least for the younger generation who have known nothing but life under occupation.
‘As a child growing up in Bethlehem, I was entrusted with burning all the political books in my father’s library whenever there was an Israeli raid. Now my city is surrounded by walls and ring-fenced by more than forty Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.’
In September 2011, as Palestine prepared for its bid for UN recognition, Leila writes about this hugely significant step.
‘The Palestinian UN bid – an uncharted territory. Is the risk going to the UN? Or is the greater risk doing it half- heartedly? Read it here.
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’.