TheRealNews | August 03, 2010
Escalating criticism of Israel led its security establishment to declare a PR war on “delegitimization.” For additional analysis, see the RealNews series entitled Who benefits from Israeli occupation?
Palestinian filmmaking culture grows from NGO project
Young Palestinians were given cameras and training to capture documentary evidence of Israeli abuses. That was just the start. Now they’re making their own movies
by Don Duncan, Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2010
Every Friday, the slingshot-wielding boys, or shabab, of the West Bank village of Ni’lin protest at Israel’s separation wall, which has deprived the village of 750 acres of farmland. But among the shabab are other youngsters with a different weapon – video cameras.
For the past three years, Btselem, the Israeli human rights NGO, has provided cameras and training to young Palestinians as part of its camera distribution project, to collect video evidence of abuses and misconduct by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Israeli settlers in the West Bank. There are 150 such cameras all over the West Bank and Gaza, and most of the footage captured – 1,500 hours so far – ends on the floor-to-ceiling archive shelves of the Jerusalem office of Yoav Gross, who directs the NGO’s video project.
Footage captured by Btselem’s volunteers has been key evidence in Israeli court rulings in favour of Palestinian plaintiffs. The presence of cameras, now on both Palestinian and Israeli sides, has deterred violence and abuse. But three years after launching the project, Btselem has seen another, unintended consequence. “People started to take this tool, the video camera, and use it as a way to express themselves, to tell stories,” said Gross. “We didn’t train them to do that. We trained them to document human rights violations. But pretty soon we got the sense that this can be a powerful tool for them to empower themselves.”