No 1730 Posted by fw, July 18, 2016
This post is stitched together from several sources, all of which are cited.
About the Video
The centrepiece of this post is an embedded You Tube version of Anna Baltzer’s DVD narrative Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories & Photos. The embedded You Tube copy of the DVD appears under a different title: Why US and Israel wants to ban this video, posted to You Tube by Suhail Muzaffar, July 18, 2014 (59:27-min). The video follows below.
Brief Introduction to Anna
Anna Baltzer, a young Jewish American, went to the West Bank to discover the realities of daily life for Palestinians under the occupation. What she found would change her outlook on the conflict forever. She wrote this book to give voice to the stories of the people who welcomed her with open arms as their lives crumbled around them. For five months, Baltzer lived and worked with farmers, Palestinian and Israeli activists, and the families of political prisoners, traveling with them across endless checkpoints and roadblocks to reach hospitals, universities, and olive groves. (Source: What You Need To Know About Israel’s “Colonies”, by Information Clearing House, [no date])
Anna’s Introduction to the Video
Like many Americans and many Jews, I grew up with a positive view of Israel as a peace-seeking democracy. Israel symbolized to me the one protection that Jews had against the type of persecution that had plagued families like mine throughout history. I saw the Jewish state as a tiny and victimized country that simply wanted to live in peace but couldn’t because of its aggressive, Jew-hating Arab neighbors.
In 2003, during a backpacking trip through the Middle East, I began to meet Palestinian refugees from 1948. I didn’t know who the Palestinians were, or where Palestine was, and through my new acquaintances I began to hear a narrative about the history and present of Israel/Palestine that was entirely different from the one I had learned growing up in the United States.
My first reaction was disbelief, and anger. Families told me stories of past and present military attacks, house demolitions, land confiscation, imprisonment without trial, and torture. It seemed that these actions were not carried out for the protection of Jewish people, but rather for the creation and expansion of a Jewish state at the expense of the rights, lives, and dignity of the non-Jewish people living in the region. It was hard for me to believe that Israel could act so unjustly.
Not believing what I heard, I decided to do some research to prove myself right. Immediately, I was shocked to find how much I didn’t know about the situation on the ground. Not knowing who or what to believe anymore, I decided to go to see the situation with my own eyes. Since I returned, I’ve dedicated my life to informing fellow Americans and others about what I found, and what they can do to support a just peace for all peoples in Israel/Palestine.
Transcript of Anna’s 2:43-minute opening remarks in her video-recorded talk
Hi. My name is Anna and I’m here to tell you about my experiences working with a group called the International Women’s Peace Service, which is based in the West Bank. And basically we do two things: first of all, we’re there to document human rights abuses in the region; and second of all, we’re there to support non-violent resistance to the occupation. And I’ll be telling you more about what this occupation looks like in the presentation. But before I do so, just a little bit about myself.
I’m a Jewish American. I originally got into this work when I was living in Turkey, and I would take trips through the Middle East during my vacations. I was in Iran, in Syria, and Lebanon. And along my way I was taken in by families, many of them Palestinian refugees. And through my friendship with these people that I met along the way I began to hear for the first time a whole different version of the history and present of Israel and Palestine, utterly different from anything that I had ever learned growing up as a Jewish American. And I was very disturbed, alarmed by what I heard. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was all propaganda. But it sort of planted a seed and I began to do some of my research and eventually decided to go to Palestine to see with my own eyes what was happening. And that’s when I took my first trip to Palestine. And that’s what I’d like to tell you about is what I found when I got there.
I’m not here to give sort of a sweeping analysis of the entire history of the conflict. I’m not here to give every single perspective on the issue. I’m here to give my perspective as a Jewish American who spent five months working in the West Bank.
Now when I first got to Palestine, there were of course many surprises along the way, but one of the first ones was esthetically the way Palestine looked. I guess I’d imagined the Middle East to be sort of rolling sand dunes, this barren desert land, and when I got there I realized that Palestine was actually very beautiful. This is a picture showing Palestine in the springtime.
You can see how fertile and green the land is. But beyond showing how beautiful it is, I actually think this photograph captures what I have come to believe is really at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict. A lot of people have sort of a perception of this issue as being kind of an age-old rivalry between Jews and Muslims, something that’s been going on for thousands of years and will continue for thousands more because at its heart are these sort of deep religious differences.
And one of the first realizations that I came to when I got to Palestine was that, for the most part, this really is not a war about religion. This is a war about land. About water. About resources. And I hoped that my reasons for coming to those conclusions will be clear in this presentation.
Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photographs by Anna Baltzer – Uploaded by “People for Justice in Palestine”, Iowa City, July 29, 2012. What makes this 1hr 48-min video particularly interesting is Anna’s Q&A with the attendees, after they watched her video-recorded presentation with her.
Anna’s website is information-rich so do visit at http://www.annainthemiddleeast.com/
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