Sunday, July 26, 2009


So I am in East Jerusalem at the moment. Have been here for the last two weeks working, and have been meaning to post about many things. My time working is almost done, I will finish production on this film about forgiveness and justice I have been working on on Wednesday, and then potentially do another day or two for a documentary that is happening about the Jerusalem music festival, which has an incredible line up, and is happening within view of my hotel room window, alas I have worked every night that it has happened so far so i haven't been able to make it. Hopefully that will change in the next few days; the festival ends on friday.

I have so much to report on from being here, and I am backlogged at this point, so I will start with the first of a series of very dramatic experiences I have had in the last two weeks that have woken me up to the brutal realities of the Israeli occupation, and the dark psycho-geography of this part of the world.

Last friday we went to shoot the weekly protest in a town in the west bank called Bel'in. It is a village in the West Bank located west of the great city of Ramallah, home to a small number of people that for generations have farmed olives on the surrounding land for their livelihood. Two years ago Israelis settled on that land, and the government has walled in the village as a way of "protecting" the settlers. The settlement is, by anyone's definition, illegal, it violates the Oslo agreement and is one of many, many, many illegal settlements on Palestinian lands that stoke the fires of this conflict and inflict brutal repression and interment on the Palestinians living near them. There is one road for the settlers, kept very well by the Israeli government who theoretically have no authority here, and another, third world(if I may momentarily employ what is otherwise a disgusting and antiquated phrase) road for the Palestinians. The only other point of rupture in the wall, a gate used by the settlers, is fiercely guarded by the IDF. Every friday for the last two years, a peaceful, organized march has wound its way to this point, and the villagers ask to be let into their lands by the military. Every friday for the last two years they have been denied. They proceed into civil disobedience by not dispersing when the IDF asks them to at gunpoint, and the soldiers respond with tear gas, rubber bullets(which in Israel are usually coated with metal and kill those unfortunate enough to come in contact with them), and treated human waste that they spray out of a cannon.
The cannon, which the IDF officially refers to as the "skunk cannon", is somewhat mysterious. Obviously from the name of the weapon and the PR surrounding it, the army does not what to have it be know that it is either made from human waste or a synthetic simularcrum, which is the first step to biological warfare. The cannon is also useful in identifying those who have participated in the protests since the odor persists on the subject for weeks after expose, despite repeated washings....

The institutionalized brutality by the Israeli military on display weekly in Bel'in in remarkable. The horrifying metaphorical implications of spraying your own shit on people who's land you have stolen boggles the mind. I'm deeply ashamed and angry that my government helps to finance this, and that the narrative in the US is that all Palestinians are terrorists. I'm going to try to do my small part over the next few posts and radios shows to bend that narrative somewhere closer to the truth....