Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas in Occupied Bethelehm: Resistance and Life in Occupied Palestine!




Dear friends, 
once again its Christmas.  As we celebrate with family and friends, we also remember that it is another year that the city of the Christ is under Israeli military occupation, along with the rest of Palestine.  Once more, Occupied Bethelehem and the rest of Occupied Palestine celebrate Christmas under a brutal military occupation.

But despite Israel's occupation and apartheid regime, the Palestinian people celebrate life. Not just every Christmas, but every day, every week, every month and every year.  They resist and demand dignity and celebrate joy and happiness with those they love, in spite of Israel's brutality and human rights abuses.

Each year, Palestinian activists seek to highlight both the oppression that the Palestinian people face, while also celebrating their humanity.  They display yet again their resistance and sumoud (steadfastness) against Israel's ongoing atrocities, war crimes and apartheid regime.  This year, in the days before Christmas, Palestinians raised an Tree of Resistance in Occupied Bethlehem, representing oppression, life and resistance in Palestine.

The tree was raised outside of the Church of the Nativity in Occupied Bethlehem, where Jesus was supposedly born more than two millenium ago.   The tree, an 2000 year old olive tree, had been recently uprooted by Israeli Occupatioin forces from the village of Bir Ouna near Occupied Bethelehem.  The tree was uprooted in order for Israel to build the apartheid wall, to further segregate Palestinians in the Bethlehem area. 

The 2000 year old tree now in Manager Square was decorated with symbols of Israel's occupation, as well as symbols of resistance.   Decorated with tear gas canisters, as well as photos of Palestinians killed or detained by Israel's occupation forces.  Amongst the decorations are also Palestinian national symbols of resistance, such as keffiyah and sling shots. 

Mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun explained: "The tree is our message .. we plant our roots and we are rooted to this land. Oliver trees are the trees of life. We see our people's eyes and hopes of our women and the dreams oif men reflected off this tree".

Mayor Baboun noted how all Bethlehem’s population, regardless of religion, live under occupation: “We are talking about settlements, we are talking about land confiscation, we are talking about the wall. Can you imagine, on 82 percent of the land we can do nothing without an Israeli permit?  Baboun went on to note that Israel has recently decided to confiscate 25 acres of land from the northern border of the Bethlehem area, saying “this is the suffocation of Bethlehem”.

Mazen Al-Izza from the Popular Struggle Coordiantion Committee, who organised the raising of the tree said: “Today we place the tree of life here, in the Nativity Church courtyard, as a form of resistance, decorated with the remnants of the occupation’s weapons used to oppress the Palestinian resistance in order for the world to see.”  He went on to say: “This tree was planted in Palestine during the time of Christ and it is proof of the sanctity of Palestine. The occupation uprooted the tree of peace from the land of peace".

“This tree will remain in the Nativity Church courtyard until the end of the Christmas celebrations ... we are here to highlight the violations and injustice the Palestinians are subject to.”

Earlier in the week, many Palestinian municipalities toned down their public Christmas celebration as a result of the increased violence by Israel and in memory of the more than 124 Palestinian killed by the Israeli state since October. 

While the Christmas festivities have been limited, they have not been cancelled. According to Reverend Ashraf Tannous, Lutheran Pastor of Beit Sahour (next to Bethelehem): “Not only is it [Christmas] a Christian celebration, it is a national celebration. This celebration is celebrated by everyone regardless of religion. We are all celebrating this season.”  He went on to say: “The agenda of the occupation is to stop us celebrating, to stop us lighting the tree, or singing carols...but in-spite of the desperate situation in the Holy Land we still celebrate.”

Father Jamal Khader,  Rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary explained that the toning down of the Christmas celebrations (rather than cancelling them)  is to send a message: “It’s a message to show there is something wrong and we cannot tolerate this injustice. This is a message for ourselves and for the world - we are still suffering.” 

On 18 December, Palestinains also staged a Christmas demonstration, dressed as Santa Claus's.  The protesters marched on Israel's apartheid wall in Occupied Bethlehem, shouting slogans against Israel's occupation. The protesters also carried posters which read: “Palestinian Christians and Muslims pray for this Christmas to be the last under occupation”.  Israeli occupation forces opened fire on the unarmed Santa Claus clad protesters, firing tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition. At least three Palestinian protesters were injured by the live ammunition fired by the Israeli military.

I have included below photos of resistance from Occupied Bethelehem and Palestine - including photos of the resistance tree and protests earlier this week against Israel's occupation. 

I have also written in previous years about the impact of Israel's occupation on Bethelehem, as well as posted up images of resistance. You can read my earlier posts by clicking here:

IMAGES OF RESISTANCE: CHRISTMAS IN OCCUPIED PALESTINE 2013


CHRISTMAS IN OCCUPIED BETHLEHEM: A LIVING CALL FOR FREEDOM AND DIGNITY

At Christmas time, occupied Bethelehem becomes the symbol for the entirity of Occupied Palestine. The struggle against Israel's occupation and apartheid regime for dignity and freedom is the struggle of all Palestinians living under occupation, as well as those living in exile and inside Palestine 48 (Israel). 

As 2015 draws to a close, Palestinians have spent yet another year under Israel's brutal occupation. They have remained sumoud and have continued to resist their oppressors and the oppression they face each day, week, month and year. 

Once again as the year draws to a conclusion, it is time for us to once more recommit to the struggle for a free Palestine. To stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and demand they have self-determination, human rights, justice, freedom and dignity.  

For A Free Palestine in 2016!! 

in solidarity, Kim

**

PHOTOS BY POPULAR STRUGGLE COORDINATION COMMITTEE & PALESTINIAN MEDIA:






PHOTS BY ANNE PAQ: 















Monday, December 7, 2015

HAARETZ: U.S. donors gave settlements more than $220 million in tax-exempt funds over five years

 Illustration credit: Netalie Ron-Raz


Registered non-profit groups are lavishly funding with tax-deductible U.S. dollars the same West Bank settlements the Obama administration considers obstacles to peace.

Uri Blau
| 07 December, 2015 | Haaretz

Private U.S. donors are massively funding Israeli settlements by using a network of tax-exempt nonprofits, which funnelled more than $220 million (about 850 million shekels) to Jewish communities in the West Bank in 2009-2013 alone, a Haaretz investigation has found.

The funding is being used for anything from buying air conditioners to supporting the families of convicted Jewish terrorists, and comes from tax-deductible donations made to around 50 U.S.-based groups.

Thanks to their status as nonprofits, these organizations are not taxed on their income and donations made to them are tax deductible – meaning the U.S. government is incentivizing and indirectly supporting the Israeli settlement movement, even though it has been consistently opposed by every U.S. administration for the past 48 years.

The findings also show that while Israel’s political right often criticizes left-wing organizations for receiving foreign donations – and has made several attempts to curtail such funding – groups that support the settlements also receive extensive funding from abroad, albeit from different sources.

 


While left-wing NGOs and human rights groups receive large donations from foreign governments and institutions, Israeli settlement groups are mostly supported by private individuals who donate through nonprofit organizations.

Low transparency requirements in both the United States and Israel make it difficult to gather comprehensive information on all of the donors, but some of the benefactors are known and include major donors to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some also donate to the U.S. Republican Party.

These and other issues will be detailed as part of Haaretz’s in-depth coverage of U.S. funding of settlements, which will be published over the next few weeks.

Legal aid for Jewish terrorists

Conducted over the last year, the Haaretz investigation exhaustively analyzed thousands of documents from the tax filings and official papers of dozens of American and Israeli nonprofit organizations.

The probe found that at least 50 organizations from across the United States are involved in raising funds for settlements and settlement activities in the occupied territories.

Their revenues between 2009 and 2013 – the last year for which there is extensive data – amounted to over $281 million. Most of these funds came from donations, while some came from returns on capital investments.

Nearly 80 percent of this income (about $224 million) was transferred to the occupied territories as grants, mostly through Israeli nonprofits.

In 2013 alone, these organizations raised $73 million and allotted $54 million in grants.

Initial data for 2014 suggests that figures for last year could be even higher.

Haaretz’s investigation shows some of the funding has gone toward providing legal aid to Jews accused or convicted of terrorism, and supporting their families, through an Israeli nonprofit called Honenu. Annual reports filed by the group with Israeli authorities show that Honenu received nearly 600,000 shekels ($155,000) – 20 percent of its income – from U.S. sources last year.

Among those who benefited from the group’s support in 2013 were the family of Ami Popper, who murdered seven Palestinian laborers in 1990, and members of the Bat Ayin Underground, which attempted to detonate a bomb at a girls’ school in East Jerusalem in 2002.

In the past, Honenu has also raised money for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for his crime.

“Honenu, a legal aid organization, has always operated within the law and only in accordance with its goals,” the group said in a statement to Haaretz. It added that, due to confidentiality rules, it could not discuss specific cases, but said it has provided aid to thousands of suspects, including Israeli police officers, soldiers and civilians.

From yeshivas to buying buildings

One of the largest U.S. organizations involved in funding Jewish communities in the West Bank is the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund. It transferred $5.7 million to the Jewish settlement in Hebron from 2009-2014. Much of the funding has been invested in parks, playgrounds and libraries, in line with the fund’s stated goal of “the improvement of the daily life for the [Jewish] residents of Hebron.”

However, it has also paid the monthly salary (cumulatively amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels) of Menachem Livni, who headed the nonprofit Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron between 2010 and 2012, which in turn was funded by the U.S. organization.

Menachem Livni in 2009. Photo credit - Alex Levac
 
A convicted murderer, Livni was one of the leaders of the Jewish Underground, which operated in the territories in the 1980s, killing three Palestinian students and severely injuring two Palestinian mayors and a Border Police sapper. Livni was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released after six years.

Dan Rosenstein, executive director of the Hebron Fund, declined to answer questions about the fund’s activities or discuss its donors and beneficiaries.

Another leading source of donations is the Central Fund of Israel, which operates out of the offices of a textile company, owned by the Marcus brothers, in the Manhattan garment district. The fund’s revenues exceeded $19 million in 2013 – a $3 million increase over the preceding year. While many of the groups cited in this investigation have yet to file reports for 2014, the CFI has done so: last year it showed a sharp increase in its revenues, which jumped to $25 million – with almost $23 million forwarded to Israel.

Among the institutions supported by the Central Fund is the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. The heads of the yeshiva, Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, are the authors of “The King’s Torah” (“Torat Hamelech”), a book that outlines the circumstances under which it is permissible to kill non-Jews. The two rabbis were questioned by the police, but not prosecuted, on suspicion of inciting racism. Last year, following violent attacks against the Israeli army, Border Police took control of the yeshiva for several months.

In a meeting with a Haaretz reporter, CFI director Jay Marcus said the organization makes donations to a number of Israeli nonprofits operating on both sides of the Green Line (i.e., in Israel proper and the occupied territories). He declined to disclose the percentage of donations going to the settlements, saying it was not an issue and insisted that the money did not serve political purposes.

Despite this massive influx of U.S. dollars, Israel and its taxpayers are the settlement’s main bankrollers. Security, infrastructure construction and educational, religious and cultural activities are all financed by the citizens of Israel, either directly or through municipalities, regional councils and other channels.Money arriving from the United States is considered more an added luxury for the settlements, contributing to religious education (such as the financing of the Neveh Shmuel yeshiva in Efrat); improving living conditions (air-conditioning units for the dining room in the Ohr Menachem school in Kiryat Arba); leisure activities (the construction of a promenade between settlements in the Etzion Bloc); but also the purchasing of buildings in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (including a house next to Rachel’s Tomb, near Bethlehem).

The Neve Shmuel Yeshiva in the settlement of Efrat. Photo credit - Uri Blau

 
The White House responds

Asked whether the granting of tax-exempt status to these organizations did not contradict the U.S. position on settlements, a senior White House official told Haaretz that “the policy of every administration since 1967, Democrat and Republican alike, has been to object to Israeli settlement beyond the 1967 borders.

“The present administration is no different,” the official continued. “Concordant with permanent U.S. policies, this administration never defended or supported any activity associated with the settlements. It doesn’t support or advance any activity that will legitimize them.”

There are many groups in the United States that support all manner of causes and are registered with authorities as 501c3 charities – the designation that grants them tax-exempt status and makes donations to them tax deductible. The running of these charities and the regulations governing them have stirred controversy before: from questions raised earlier this year over donations received by the Clinton Foundation to a recent campaign by John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” show to curb the tax privileges granted to televangelists.

The Haaretz investigation adds to this debate, as it shows that the United States is tacitly supporting, through tax-exempt contributions, the growth of the settlements – a process that its government strongly condemns.

Reporting for this story was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting http://pulitzercenter.org/

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The 18 Cows Scaring Israel's Culture Minister Miri Regev


 
Dear friends,
It seems once more 18 cows are proving to be a security threat to the state of Israel, along with the very existence of Palestinian film and Palestinian narrative. Israeli Cultural Minister, Miri Regev - who is also a former spokesperson for the Israeli Occupation Forces - is attempting to ban (yet again) the 48mm Film Festival using Israel's draconian "Nakba Law".

In particular, Regev is upset about the film "The Wanted 18", a film about Palestinian non-violent civil disobedience during the First Intifada.  During the First Intifada, the village of Beit Sahour, near Bethelehem, lead the Palestinian non-violent resistance, not only refusing to pay taxes to the Israeli state but also boycotting Israeli products and goods. As part of their campaign to boycott Israeli products, they brought 18 cows to produce milk for the village. As the film notes, the cows were deemed a security threat to the state of Israel by the local Israeli military governor, who attempted to confiscate the cows - thus beginning an elaborate attempt by the village to hide the cows in defiance of the Israeli military.

The story of Beit Sahour's cows was one of the first stories of resistance I ever heard my first time in Palestine in 2004.  The story was inspiring, as well as very funny in its ridiculousness - with my favourite part being how the Israeli military took photos of the cows and then proceeded to search for them, showing the photos of the cows and demanding to know where they were.  So I was extremely excited when I heard a few years ago that a film was being made about Beit Sahour's cows. 

I finally got to see the film when it was screened here in Australia as part of the Palestinian Film Festival last month.  The film was excellent - not only was it very funny, it was very moving and inspiring. It contained some wonderful archival footage from the First Intifada and it is a wonderful film documenting Palestinian resistance and sumoud. It is no surprise that 18 cows and a film documenting Palestinian resistance and sumoud are considered a security threat to the state of Israel.

I have included below two articles on Regev's attempt to ban the festival.  The second on in particular discusses The Wanted 18.  I have also included a short and longer version of the trailer for the documentary, which is nominated for the upcoming Academy Awards.  You can also check out the film's website, by clicking here

In solidarity, Kim


**
THE WANTED 18 - TRAILERS
Short trailer - 2min

video
Long trailer - 8.30 mins



Israeli Culture Minister Seeks to Defund Cinema Institution Over Nakba Film Festival
 

Tel Aviv Cinematheque screening film festival about 1948 war next week, which Miri Regev believes violates 'Nakba Law.'
Nirit Anderman Dec 01, 2015: Haaretz



Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has ordered an investigative committee to be established to examine allegations that a film festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque violates the Nakba Law, which allows the government to defund organizations presenting Israel's establishment as a catastrophe, in line with the Palestinian narrative.

The 48mm Festival, founded by anti-occupation NGO Zochrot and scheduled for December 4-6 at the cinematheque, is also known as The Third International Film Festival on Nakba and Return. A 2011 amendment to the state budget law authorizes the finance minister to defund any institution that encourages incitement, racism or armed struggle against Israel, or presents Independence Day or the establishment of Israel as a day of mourning. The High Court rejected a petition to repeal the amendment, known as the Nakba Law, in 2012.

 

 

Regev stated in an official announcement on Sunday evening that the committee would be comprised of members of the Censorship Board of Israel, which will be requested to view the festival films and write reports relative to the Nakba Law for further discussion and legal consultation within the ministry.

"The minister will decide based on these opinions whether to ask the Finance Ministry to invoke the law," the ministry announced.

Regev's predecessor, Limor Livnat, tried to take action against last year's festival. She asserted the cinematheque was violating the law in hosting the festival. However, the cinemathque retained its funding despite undergoing a similar investigative process.

However, Culture Ministry officials noted that last year Livnat's request was made without first obtaining professional opinions, examining in depth the films in question or presenting findings. "Being responsible for public coffers, we must not shut our eyes when there is fear that the law is being broken," said Regev. "We must examine the matter on a professional level.

Liat Rosenberg, Zochrot's CEO, commented: "It seems to me like one of many attempts, which will happen in the next festival as well, to exclude the topic of the Nakba and the right of return from the public agenda. If it were not such a painful and difficult subject, I gather the minister's attempts would look ridiculous to me. But I believe the public will vote with its feet, and instead of silencing these attempts, I honestly invite Minister Regev and others to come watch the film and try to listen in depth to the voices arising from within them."

**


The 18 Cows Scaring Israel's Culture Minister Miri Regev

'48 mm: The International Festival on Nakba and Return' challenges the culture minister’s opinion about what can and cannot be screened.
Nirit Anderman Dec 01, 2015: Haaretz




One of the outstanding films to be screened this year at “48 mm: The International Festival on Nakba and Return” will require the special task force recently established by Culture Minister Miri Regev to decide whether the story of 18 cows – yes, cows – violates Israeli law and can justify cutting the budget of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, where the festival is taking place.

“The Wanted 18,” the Palestinian candidate for the Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Film, is an animated documentary that tells a true story. It’s hard to decide whether the most suitable description is funny, sad or absurd. The film breathes life into a story from the days of the first intifada, and leaves Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers in supporting roles in order to clear the stage for a group of cows that steal the show: They talk, they’re funny, they deal with a long series of dramatic turning points and manage to do all that in a captivating and heartwarming manner by means of charming puppet animation.

The culture minister announced on Sunday that the task force will be asked to examine the films to be shown at the festival, which is sponsored by Zochrot, an organization that works to raise awareness of the Nakba and promote the right of return, and is celebrating its third year at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The task force will have to decide based on the Budget Foundations Law, which allows the finance minister to fine an institution that receives money from the government if it has funded a work that encourages incitement, racism or support of an armed struggle against the State of Israel, or presents Independence Day or the day of the state’s establishment as a day of mourning.

The case of “The Wanted 18” will be very interesting, because the filmmakers have refused until now to show it in Israel, the director refuses to be interviewed by Israeli journalists, and recently he also publicly attacked Israel for preventing him from participating in the film’s American debut.

The film, which will be screened in Jaffa on Sunday, combines amusing stop-motion animation, illustrations, filmed interviews and archival material to tell an interesting and not very well known story that took place in the town of Beit Sahour in 1987. A group of intellectuals and professionals (teachers, an academic, a pharmacist, a butcher, et al) from the city near Bethlehem decided at the time to stage a nonviolent revolt, by boycotting Israeli products.

They realized that such a step would require them to produce the products that they would stop purchasing from Israel on their own. After deciding to boycott Israel’s largest dairy producer Tnuva, they decided to buy cows from which they could produce milk for their own use.

For that purpose a Palestinian teacher from Beit Sahour was sent to buy cows from a kibbutz. The cows were housed in an improvised cowshed in Beit Sahour. They sent a representative to the United States to learn everything necessary about raising and milking cows, and enthusiastically devoted themselves to the new and totally unfamiliar agricultural pursuit.

Unheroic pursuit


But the Israeli army was far less enthusiastic. The person responsible for the region on behalf of the Israel Defense Forces decided that the initiative was dangerous, ordered the Palestinian owners of the cows to get rid of them quickly, and when he discovered that the cows had been transferred to a hiding place, the strongest army in the Middle East embarked on a determined if unheroic pursuit of the 18 missing animals.

In order to tell the story the film’s two directors, Palestinian Amer Shomali and Canadian Paul Cowan, found the protagonists on both sides and conducted a series of interviews with them.



Jalal Oumsieh, the high school teacher who bought the cows, says, “The moment I saw the cows I felt that we were beginning to understand our dream of freedom and independence, the moment the cows entered the truck on the kibbutz and we started driving back to Beit Sahour, we were happy, but also scared.”

He recounted that the military governor came to the farm one day with some soldiers. “The first thing they did was photograph every one of the cows in order to record the numbers branded on them. He told us we had to get rid of the cows. When I asked why, he replied – and I quote: ‘These cows are a danger to the security of the State of Israel.’ I told him I didn’t understand why, but he said, ‘You have no right to speak or to cast doubt. It’s a military order and you are obligated to obey.’”

Israeli interviewees don’t deny the claims. “We had clear orders to handle the people who established the popular committees [the Palestinian committees that decided to boycott Israeli produce and to produce independently] with all our might and all the legal means at our disposal, in order to prevent a mechanism that would replace the Civil Administration,” says Shaltiel Lavi, former commander of the Bethlehem District.

Ehud Zrahiya, who was presented in the film as the military governor’s adviser on Arab affairs, says “It was clear that from 17 cows you don’t build a dairy economy that can provide the needs of an entire population,” and that the entire issue was only a curiosity. But it developed into a nonviolent rebellion that caused most of the city’s residents to stop paying taxes and bills to Israel, causing quite a headache for the army.

As to the cows, after they were hidden somewhere else in Beit Sahour, the IDF began a search for them, with hundreds of soldiers and even two helicopters. “It became a joke to see the Israeli army searching for the cows of the intifada,” says Oumsieh’s wife, a geology professor. Oumsieh adds with a smile, “They had pictures of the cows, and they asked people whether they had seen them.”




Cow’s-eye view

The interviewees tell the story from their point of view, the animation adds a comic element when it often shows events through the eyes of the talking cows, and the choice of this technique proves itself when it succeeds in emphasizing the absurd aspect of the story. In an interview with the British weekly The Observer, when asked about his decision to make a funny movie, Shomali said: “It was quite frightening, but I’m a cartoonist and humor is part of the way in which I see things. I believe that a nation that is incapable of looking at its wounds with humor will never be able to heal them. First be aware of your shitty situation and then laugh at yourselves.”

Shomali said that one of the challenges was the lack of suitable archival material. “Almost all the material we found focused on the violent aspect of the intifada: Israeli soldiers breaking bones, killing Palestinians and burning their homes; mothers crying; Palestinians throwing incendiary devices or breaking windows in an Israeli bus. There were no materials of a Palestinian milking a cow or planting in his backyard in order to grow his own food, as part of the boycott of Israeli products. No such Palestinian images were filmed, so we created an alternative archive and used animation to create it.”

Shomali, who lives in Ramallah, refused an interview with Haaretz and the filmmakers refused to send Haaretz a copy of the film to watch in advance, as is usual for festival films – the producers also refused to show their film at the International Film Festival in Jerusalem or in the DocAviv Festival in Tel Aviv. “Palestinian artists are afraid that screening their film here will look like a type of support for Israel or a type of normalization,” says Jerusalem Cinematheque program director Elad Samorzik.

The filmmakers accepted the invitation to show their film at the “48 mm” festival, but on condition that it be screened in Jaffa rather than at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The executive director of Zochrot, which is producing the festival, explains: “The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is an institution funded by the government, and we are increasingly seeing a trend that Palestinian artists refuse to have their films screened in such institutions.” 



  Palestinian co-director Amer Shomali.

In June the film was shown in the U.S. at the Human Rights Watch Festival in New York. Shomali was supposed to talk to the audience afterwards, but was unable to attend. He claimed that Israel had prevented him from going from Ramallah to Jerusalem in order to obtain a visa for the U.S. “Official Israeli organizations told me that my request was denied for security reasons. And I’m not alone. The same is true of tens of thousands of other Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the occupied territories.

“My co-director Paul Cowan and I wanted ‘The Wanted 18’ to be a festival of freedom and creativity. We wanted to illustrate the power of civil disobedience – then and today – in the face of military occupation and oppression. I believe we succeeded. And now Israel is making it clear that everything is in effect under its control, but it’s not really. We Palestinians repeatedly find ways to cross, to bypass and to extricate ourselves from the barriers to equal rights and freedom put in place by Israel.”

Is peace possible?

So what films will the members of the Film Review Council who will compose the task force established by Regev to watch the films of the “48 mm” festival actually see? The festival includes four short films by local artists that were produced especially for the festival: The animated film “Man with Two Beards” directed by Amir Yatziv, based on a collection of illustrations from Israeli and Palestinian history textbooks; the documentary “Anava Interchange,” about two Israeli directors who, 30 years apart, documented the same Palestinian refugee returning to visit his village; “Guava,” an experimental film by Thalia Hoffman about human situations on refugee routes in the Middle East; and “Lighthouse,” about a 71-year-old Palestinian who wakes up in his new home in Lod.

“Roshmia” is a documentary about an elderly Palestinian couple living in Roshmia, the last natural wadi in Haifa, who are forced to leave their home and see that as another expulsion. “On the Bride’s Side” is an Italian documentary in which a Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Milan, who have fled from the war in Syria to Europe, and offer to help them get to Sweden disguised as a wedding party; and “Sar’a,” a documentary directed by Michael Kaminer, who was born on Kibbutz Tzora and using archival materials and conversations with the kibbutz founders and refugees from the neighboring village of Sar’a reveals the story of the expelled residents of the Palestinian village.

Finally, Eyal Sivan in his film “Aqabat Jaber” returns to the refugee camp where he shot a film in 1987 and asks whether peace between Israel and Palestine is possible with the return of the refugees to their homeland. After the Israeli army left the area, the refugee camp is under Palestinian control and its residents are still unable to return to the villages from which they were expelled in 1948.