“I hate them, I hate them for a reason,” says Mohammed El Kurd, the young boy who is at the center of Julia Bacha’s Peabody-winning short film “My Neighborhood,” co-directed by Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, which bracingly shows the experiences of Palestinian families being displaced from their homes in East Jerusalem by brutish Orthodox Jewish settlers. Making the film all the more topical, on the day of the film’s award this coming Monday, the Supreme Court in Israel will prepare a hearing on another eviction of a Palestinian family, which human rights activists would call illegal.
The “Shamasneh Case,” as explained by The Times of Israel blogger Moriel Rothman, concerns a family who was evicted from their home in the town of Sheikh Jarrah, which is depicted in “My Neighborhood,” in 2009 along with three other
Demonstrations in Israel have broken out over the case, but it’s likely that the family’s fate will be further relayed by more legal proceedings. In the mean time, hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live in Jewish settlements, which are considered illegal or illegitimate by the international community, while several thousand settlers live in unauthorized outposts that Israel has promised to dismantle, but has not.
Bacha, who directed the award-winning doc “Budrus,” which showcased Israeli and various Palestinian activists working together to fight the construction of a “security wall” being built in the town, will be on hand for a special screening of the film on Monday night.
Bacha captures some amazingly visceral footage in “My Neighbourhood” of the invasion and evacuation of Palestinian families. In interviews, Bacha has revealed that much of the footage was captured on the cellphones of ordinary citizens.
Unfortunately, it’s not footage that we see much on the Nightly news. Bacha has said that the troubling images we see in “Budrus” and “My Neighbourhood” are happening across Israel.
“We choose the stories that journalists are not telling,” she told the Wall Street Journal Online. “We take a
lot of pride in taking our films to those portrayed in film. We have
this conversation with the media: look at these stories, and say why are
they not part of your coverage, and in the community we say we are
telling your stories. In that sense we have had a significant impact on
this dialogue. It’s small.”
“Are we a few steps from a solution? No way,
but throughout history there are moments when people believed nothing
would ever be solved. In South Africa, I talked to people about the
Apartheid Movement who didn’t believe that something would change in
their lifetime, but said that this is the right thing do. During the
Civil Rights movement those in the beginning did not know and most were
sure that nothing would change in their lifetime regarding their
condition. Yet they knew this was the correct thing do. These are the
people we want to highlight and honor them.”