By John Pilger
Saturday, Mar 10, 2012
John Pilger made the film 'Palestine Is Still The Issue' in 1977. It
told how almost a million Palestinians had been forced off their land in
1948, and again in 1967. Twenty five years later, John Pilger returns
to the West Bank of Jordan and Gaza, and to Israel, to ask why the
Palestinians, whose right of return was affirmed by the United Nations
more than half a century ago, are still caught in a terrible limbo -
refugees in their own land, controlled by Israel in the longest military
occupation in modern times.
Editorial comment: This video was first published in 2006, but has been republished and is quite as relevant today as it was six years ago. -SON
"If we are to speak of the great
injustice here, nothing has changed," says Pilger at the start of the
film, "What has changed is that the Palestinians have fought back.
Stateless and humiliated for so long, they have risen up against
Israel’s huge military regime, although they themselves have no army, no
tanks, no American planes and gunships or missiles. Some have committed
desperate acts of terror, like suicide bombing. But, for Palestinians,
the overriding, routine terror, day after day, has been the ruthless
control of almost every aspect of their lives, as if they live in an
open prison. This film is about the Palestinians and a group of
courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle, to be free."
distills the history of Palestine during the twentieth century into an
easily comprehensible struggle for land - the loss of seventy-eight per
cent of that belonging to Palestinians when the state of Israel was
founded in 1948 and their claim to only the remaining twenty-two per
cent, which had for thirty-five years been occupied by Israel.
a series of extraordinary interviews with both Israelis and
Palestinians, he speaks to the families of suicide bombers and their
victims. He witnesses the humiliation of Palestinians at myriad
checkpoints with a permit system not dissimilar to apartheid South
Africa's infamous pass laws. One Palestinian woman tells of how she was
stopped from passing through a checkpoint when she went into labour and
had to return home to give birth with her mother-in-law using a razor to
cut the umbilical cord. The baby later died. He goes into the refugee
camps and meets children who, he says, "no longer dream like other
children, or if they do, it is about death." He is shown round the
Palestinian Ministry of Culture in Ramallah after a recent Israeli
attack where he discovers faeces smeared on walls and floors and a room
of children’s paintings vandalised.
Archive footage shows pledges
by successive American presidents in support of Israel. Pilger
describes the Israeli administration as "America’s deputy sheriff" in
the oil-rich Middle East, receiving billions of dollars and the latest
weapons: F16 aircraft, bombs, missiles and Apache helicopters. He
reveals that Britain also fuels the conflict even though it condemns
Israel for its illegal occupation. "During the first fourteen months of
the Palestinian uprising, the Blair government approved 230 export
licences for weapons and military equipment to Israel... Tony Blair has
said, and I quote him, "We are doing everything we can to bring peace
and stability to the Middle East.'" As a result, Israel is now the
fourth-largest military power in the world.
On a hillside
overlooking Jerusalem, Pilger concludes. "The truth is that Israelis
will never have peace until they recognise that Palestinians have the
same right to the same peace and the same independence that they enjoy,’
he said. ‘Recently, that great voice of freedom, Archbishop Desmond
Tutu, asked this: “Have the Jewish people of Israel forgotten their
collective punishment, their home demolitions, their humiliations so
soon?” Israel’s own dissenting voices have not forgotten and those who
speak out in this film honour the best traditions of Jewish humanity...
The occupation of Palestine should end now. Then, the solution is clear:
two countries, Israel and Palestine, neither dominating nor menacing
the other. Is that impossible or is history to witness the consequences
of yet another silence?’"
Palestine Is Still The Issue was a
Carlton Television production for ITV first broadcast on ITV1, 16
September 2002. Director: Tony Stark. Producer: Chris Martin.
The Chris Statuette in the War & Peace division, Chris Awards,
Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Ohio, 2003; Winner,
War & Peace category, Vermont International Film Festival, 2003;
Certificate of Merit, Chicago International Television Awards.
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