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stockholm 20/12/2011 - 06:50AM

Welcome to Hebron: Screening and discussion with Terje Carlsson

On Dec 8, 2011 Cinema Politica student group at Stockholm University invited Terje Carlsson to screen his documentary “Welcome to Hebron”. The documentary deals with the daily life struggles of a group of teenage Palestinian girls from a school in Hebron and focuses on Leila, a Palestinian girl living under the shadows of illegal military and settler-colonial occupation of her city, Hebron. The documentary is mostly filmed in Hebron and shows the various hardships, such as military check-points, closure of market places and businesses and settler violence that the Palestinian residents in general and students in particular have to go through to conduct their daily business. It also sheds light on the Israeli governments deployment of military personnel to provide protection to the illegal settler-colonialists. Through the documentary Terje shows the very normal expectations and aspiration of these teenage girls and conveys how these Palestinian girls are growing up adoring their favorite TV shows, chatting online with their friends and at the same time having to deal with the constant threat of setter/military abuse and violence. “Welcome to Hebron” is a conscience effort that tells the story of unequal rights of Palestinian citizens of Hebron as compared to those of illegal settlers even when violence is taken out of context. Perhaps the documentary also tries to ask the question as to what is peace? Is the Palestinian submission to illegal settlers accompanied by a brutal occupying army peace? Is the silence of Palestinian children passing through checkpoints in their own city a sign of peace? In the foreign media, especially in the west, Palestinian retaliation to an occupation is mostly portrayed as violence and disruption of normalcy and peace. But can we really consider the occupation of Hebron and of the rest of Palestine as peace and what will we achieve with this skewed idea of peace?

During the discussion session with the audience that followed the screening, Terje explains that the documentary tries to not show the frequently occurring violence perpetrated by the settlers against the Palestinians, so as to give a different perspective to the Israel-Palestine conflict by looking at it through the experiences of a young Palestinian girl. Terje maintains that there is much more violence that takes place than what is shown in the documentary and that exclusion of those incidences is done intentionally to put more focus on the every day problems faced by a normal girl given those circumstances. Another interesting point that Terje mentions is that we generally tend to look for Israelis or foreign sources for validating reports about Palestinian suffering due to the illegal occupation, settler violence or Israeli military actions in the occupied territories. Such mistrust on the victims of a tragic and brutal occupation is inherently racist, as it suggests that we cannot trust Palestinians who have suffered first hand, but must find an Israeli or an international activist to substantiate very visible signs of Palestinian suffering. The documentary tries to address this issue by keeping the narrative mostly to Palestinian girl. Yehuda Shaoul, a prominent Israeli peace activist, and formerly an Israeli soldier who served at Hebron, does appear many times on the screen to share his experiences and views about the occupation of Hebron and military support provided by the Israel government to the approximately 500 illegal settlers living in Hebron, but not to validate the Palestinian side of the story. 

Terje Carlsson can be contacted at: http://www.welcometohebron.com/

His latest documentary is titled “Israel vs Israel” http://www.israelvsisrael.com/

A recent article in Electronic Intifada captures the current state of affairs at Hebron:

http://electronicintifada.net/content/daily-ordeal-getting-school-hebron/10698

We are grateful to Terje Carlsson for his courageous work in the occupied Palestinian territories and for coming to our campus to participate in the discussion. We are also thankful to Palestinagrupperna I Sverige for providing us with funds for Terje’s trip and to Cinema Politica Network for providing us with a wonderful platform for screening meaningful documentaries to students at Stockholm University and general public around Stockholm area.

 

by: Sikander Hayat, Board Member, Cinema Politica Stockholm University

 

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