The Arty Semite

Using Videos, Jerusalem's Arabs and Jews To Shoot the Inside Scoop

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

As intractable as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is in general, it is at its most contentious and high profile in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, where small enclaves of diehard religious Jewish settlers live in overwhelmingly Palestinian neighborhoods.

Last week, “60 Minutes” aired a report on the tensions between the developers of the City of David archaeological site just outside the southeast corner of the Old City walls (the developers also fund the expenses of Jewish settlers) and the Palestinian residents of Silwan, which is the area’s Arabic name.

But “60 Minutes” could provide only the perspective of an American journalist looking in on the situation. Now, the British newspaper the Guardian, in partnership with B’Tselem, has provided us with a different viewpoint — that of everyday Palestinians living in the contested area.

B’Tselem — The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories — provided cameras and basic filmmaking training to six people (four Palestinians from East Jerusalem and two Jews from West Jerusalem) who could get the inside view on potentially the most explosive point on the Israeli map.

Zuheir put up six CCTV cameras around his house to document IDF and Israeli police activity in the streets of Silwan, following the fatal shooting by Israeli forces of a local resident. His self-made video documents how the Israeli government confiscated his camera and computer equipment.

Abd al-Fatah is a simple farmer caught up in bureaucratic red tape in an attempt to save the shack and basic farming structures he has set up illegally. He documents his trips into Jerusalem to appear in court and says into the camera that he is too attached to the land where he grew up to move into a West Bank refugee camp to be with his family.

Yoni, an archeologist, and Sara, a political activist, are left-wing Israelis who document their (admittedly) perhaps futile respective attempts to counter the mainstream public relations line on the City of David and to protest evictions of Palestinians from homes in Sheik Jarrah.

Most moving among the videos are two that were made by Palestinian children who document from their perspective their uncomfortable lives among Jewish settlers. The videos — obviously filmed at a child’s eye height — are not at all childlike, and therein lies their power.

This is not the first time B’Tselem has enabled regular Palestinians to produce these kinds of videos. In early 2010, the organization gave journalism and communications students in Gaza cameras and basic instruction so that they could shed light on the life of children and teens there one year after Operation Cast Lead. The most powerful among those short films was one called “Tunnel Youth” about boys who lived in and smuggled materials through the illicit underground passageways linking Gaza and Egypt.

There is no need to even argue the point that B’Tselem and the Guardian’s left leaning agenda comes through clearly in these films, because it can’t be denied. But that should not stop anyone from watching them, because they do the courageous and necessary work of showing how an insider sees a place so covered by outsiders.

Watch the Guardian and B’Tselem videos.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jerusalem, Guardian, B'Tselem, Silwan

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.