How Palestinian villagers resisted Israel’s apartheid wall

by editor | 10th May 2011 6:29 am

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Harriet Sherwood Budrus
is a documentary film about Palestinian villagers’ non-violent resistance against the route of Israel’s separation barrier, whose original route would cut them off from 300 acres and 3,000 olive trees.
Watch the trailer here
Today sees the DVD release of Budrus, a documentary film about a Palestinian village’s struggle against the route of Israel’s separation barrier. Budrus has deservedly won many awards and if you didn’t get a chance to see it at the cinema, now’s your chance to catch up.
It’s an inspiring story about the villagers’ connection to the land and their non-violent resistance to the barrier whose original route would cut them off from 300 acres and 3,000 olive trees. The star of the movie is Ayed Morrar, the leader of the popular campaign.

But, for me, there is a compelling sub-story about the role of women – and two in particular: Morrar’s 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, who conquers her fears to lead the village’s women into struggle; and Yasmine Levy, a squad commander in the Israeli border police, who grapples with her discomfort at having to deal with women protesters.

Iltezam notices early on that only men were taking part in the protests, and challenges her father over the involvement of women. In the film, she speaks candidly about her trepidation: “I was completely terrified,” she says after jumping into a hole in the ground left by an uprooted olive tree to stop the advance of a bulldozer. But, she asks, “if you steal our land, what do you expect our reaction to be?”

The women of the village show remarkable strength and determination – and humour.

Yasmine, who wanted to serve in a combatant role during her military service, finds herself the target of their chants. “Yasmina, Yasmina,” they call; come and join us, we will find you a nice Palestinian husband.

She knows what her duty is and does not shrink from it – “see the women? That’s where I want it,” she says, ordering tear gas to be fired at the protesters – but she also expresses admiration. “Even the women [who] were beaten up or hit by rubber bullets or stun grenades, they had no problem with it. They went to all lengths to ensure their land would remain theirs.”

And, in the end, the villagers largely achieved their aim. After 55 protests, the route of the barrier was changed so that 280 of the 300 acres at risk of being lost to the village stayed on the Palestinian side.

The overwhelmingly non-violent struggle (there is some stone-throwing, met with tear gas, stun grenades and both live and rubber bullets) in Budrus has inspired other villages in the West Bank to follow suit.

Iltezam Morrar, who tells of her unswerving goal to become a doctor, is now studying medicine in Sarajevo. Yasmine Levy, according to a note at the end of the movie, left the border police to start a family.

This is powerful film, with an remarkable cast of real-life characters.

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