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February 1, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 1, 2013 PAGE 17A Palestinians hope to tell their story through the Oscars By Diana Atallah The Media Line standing alongside him on the Ramallah Cultural Palace stage, called the film's nomination "a national day for Palestine. One billion people who watch the Oscar's will know the story and suffering of the Palestinians." "There was a misconception about the identityofthis movie," Burnat told the audience after being asked about the Israeli is- sue."I invited an Israeli partner, a supporter who came to my village to help me in the final stages, but the Israeli press called the film 'Israeli.' The documentaries nominated for the Oscars are not listed under specific countries." "I filmed the movie, but just because an Israeli activist came to the village and helped does not mean the film is Israeli. I just think of it as a human issue as opposed to political," he told The Media Line. He added that the directors received funding from European countries including France and the Netherlands, as well as Israel, to underwrite post-production costs, but that the film is a Palestinian-Israeli- French production. Burnat, a farmer, started filming when Jibril, his fourth and youngest son, was born in RAMALLAH--Palestinians : ope an Oscar-nominated docu- mentary depictinga non-violent truggle'against Israel will suc- ':eed in telling their story, even ilough some recent viewers who saw the film in Ramallah ,xpressed reservations about israeli involvement in the movie. 5 Broken Cameras is one of five candidates for the Oscar in ',ile Best Documentary Feature category this year. Released in 2011 by Palestinian director Emad Burnat and Israeli di- rector Guy Davidi, it has been screened in 50 countries and translated into several lan- guages. MohammedA1-Khatib, ofthe Popular Struggle Committee, who organized the screening in Ramallah, said the film was a "national" one:. It received a mixed reception at its first show- ing here: the audience clapping, cheering, laughing and crying during the 95-minute film, but also leveling some criticism for Israeli participation in its production. But Burnat, with his son Jibril--who is seen in the film-- 2005 - the same year popular demonstrations began against the security barrier Israel was building onvillage lands in Bil'in and construction of the Jewish community of Modi'in Illit was under way on lands villagers claimed belongs to them. The camera barely left Bur- nat's hands during the five years during which he filmed the movie depicting the life of his family and the villagers, and the constantfrictionwith Israeli soldiers. Included are Jibril's first words, "wall" and "army"; and the killing of his close friend Basem Abu Rahmeh by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration. The title of the film comes from the five cameras thatwere smashed or hit by bullets when the demonstrations turned violent. In each case, Burnat kept filming. Back in Bil'in, where he lives with his four sons and Palestinian-Brazilian vife Soraya, the five cameras sit at one corner, and awards fill two tables in the salon. Photos of Jibril meeting in Istanbul with Turkish soap opera stars popular with Arabs and Palestinians adorn the walls. After the film won awards worldwide, including at the prestigious Sundance Festival, Burnat and his colleague did not rule out the possibility of an Academy Award nomination. If the strong react4ons by many at the Ramallah screening are any indication, that optimism may prove to be well-founded. NadiaAwad, apublic relations specialist in the NGO sector, told The Media Line that she cried during the sad parts of the movie. "I think it was moving and heartbreaking. Seeing the violence of the shots and the tear gas was difficult. And to be hon- est, as a Palestinian I feel guilty that I have never been to Bil'in or Nil'in and attended these demonstrations even when I knew about them. This might make me change my ways." Ohoud Mraqtan, a freelance journalist, thought the film was one of the strongest she has seen. "The narration, the story, the reality of the scenes kept our attention for two hours. You can't know Palestinian life unless you see the movie," she told The Media Line. However, Rami Khalil, who attended the screening, was less enthusiastic. "It's a good movie, but I am still not sure why it was nominated for the Oscars. I think maybe because I am a Palestinian living among the heat of events that I don't see what the fuss is all about," he said. Some in the audience were still fussing about the film's Israeli funding, but others were focusing on the more important contributions its unusual pedi- gree can make. "You couldn't find anyone else?" one viewer asked. While Burnat replied that he did not find Palestinian funding during the making of the movie, Awad didn't see any problem. "If the Israeli pirticipation helps this movie be seen by Israelis as well as the world, then why.not? I dbn't think it's a betrayal of any kind," she told The Media Line. Mraqtan sees the collabora- tion as a way of bringing peace. "APalestinian-Israelifilmshows that both people want to live in peace," he sid. "Let the people see that we all want to live in peace but the occupation forces are not allowing us to." Filmmaker Burnat doesn't think his collaboration is unique, but its message is. "The Palestinians and Israelis have relations, but the Israeli goes back to Iis house in Tel Aviv and the Palestinian still lives under occupation. My message from the movie is for the world to see the reality of the Palestinian struggle and suffering through a personal and human story," he told The Media Line. Burnat's Israeli co-director Davidi wasn't at the Ramallah screening because he was busy with screenings in Israel, the farmer-turned-filmmaker said. Pa!estinian Minister of Cul- ture Siham Barghouti, who attended the screening, told The Media Line that Palestinianswill launch a campaign tpush the film's run for an Oscar. The Palestinian film Paradise Now, about twosuicide bombers planning to blow themselves up in Israel and was produced by Palestinian-Dutch director HaniAbuAssad,was nominated for an Oscar in 2005, but the award went to a South African film. The film ends with a scene of Burnat and his two sons at the beach in Israel. The direc- tor hopes he can ride a wave of local and international support to tell his people's story and, as he told The Media Line, "that this will be the first OsCar to go to Palestine." International community remembers the Holocaust UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the U.N., speaks at a special event on Children and the Holocaust, held to mark the annal lnternational Day of Commemora- tion in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, on Jan. 27. By Maxine Dovere NEW YORK--Speaking in a voice fraught with emotion at the United Nations General Assembly, Israeliambassadorto the UN Ron Prosor proclaimed, "The loss [of the Holocaust] is unimaginable.., the riches lost to the world untold. But, their spirit lives on, their dreams never died... Nothing can break the 5,000-year-old chainofJew- ishhistory." Looking to his own emo- tions, Ron Prosor noted during the Jan. 25 ceremony that he is a father of the generation for whom it is "incomprehensible to comprehend what it meant to be a Jew in the face of evil" without the protection provided by the Jewish state. Partisans .and survivors, politicians, leaders of religions, and people of conscience joined together to commemorate International Holocaust Re- membrance Day this week in front of statues, at museums and memorials, and in the halls of the UN. The UN in 2005 designated Jan. 27 as a yearly memorial day for the victims of the Ho- locaust-6 million Jews and millions ofothervictims of Nazi Germany during World War II. The date honors the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Aus- chwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps. On Sunday in Rome, the German-born Pope Benedict XVI, appearing at his window in the Vatican, called for vigilance against racism. "The memory of this im- mense tragedy, which above all struck so harshly the Jew- ish people, must represent for everyone a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated, so that every form of hatred and racism is overcome, and that respect for, and dignity of, every human person is encouraged," the Pope said of the Holocaust. "Those who experienced the horrors of the cattle cars, ghet- tos, and concentration camps have witnessed humanity at its very worst and know too well the pain of losing loved ones to senseless violence," U.S. President Barack Obama said. "The United States, along with the international community, resolves to stand in the way of any tyrant or dictator who com- mits crimes against humanity, and stay true to the principle of 'Never Again.'" Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu made a clear link to Iran's nuclear efforts and the Nazis' efforts to annihilate the Jews. "Anti-Semitism has not disappeared and--to our re- gret-neither has the desire to destroy a considerable part of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. They exist and they are strong," Netanyahu said. This year is the 50th anniver- sary of the establishment of the Israeli Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum's "Righteous Among the Nations" recognition for gentiles who helped save Jew- ish lives during the Holocaust. In New York, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, greeting those gathered in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on Jan. 25, said "the examples of these brave men and women demonstrate the capacity of humankind for remarkable good even in the darkest days..." Ban also stressed the need to "work against hatred and prejudice to prevent future genocide." Pmsor at the UN acknowl- edged the sparks that lit human- ity's darkest hours--Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, Italian construction worker Lorenzo Perrone, and the Japanese Consul in Lithuania, Sugihara, calling their actions "inspiring stories that must become guide posts for the international community... There is much work to do in a world.., where hate is met with UN Photo/JC McIlwaine Ron Prosor (right), Permanent Representative of Israel to the U.N., chats with Arthur Schneier, Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue in New York, before an event at U.N. Headquarters on "Children and the Holocaust" held to mark the lnternational Day of Com- memoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Between Prosor and Schneier, is famed psychotherapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer. silence." The state of Israel is a living, breathing monument to sur- vival, stated the ambassador. "Am Yisrael chai!" he extolled. Also recognized was the cou- rageous Irena Sandier, a Polish Catholic nurse who saved 2,500 children, and Eli Zborowski, who survived the war in hiding andwas the driving force behind the creation of Yad VaShem's Valley of the Communities as well as a founder of the Ameri- can Society of Yad VaShem. Mordecai Palodiel, a Holo- caust survivor who spoke at the UN, was 6 years old when he and his family escaped to Switzer- land. He was instrumental in gaining acknowledgement for the non-Jewish heroes who risked their lives to save at least one Jewish person. Palodiel helped develop the Garden of the Righteous. Fifty years after its initiation, some 25,000 names are inscribed in its stones, each representing a commitment to help others in need despite of the risk to themselves "We have an obligation to pass on to future generatns the legacy of the Righteous Among the Nations and the lesson of the spark of goodness the individual canarousewithin himself," he said. to the left, the right. Now, Only weeks before Interna- "never again" is heard from tionalHolocaustRemembrance within the brick and iron gates Day, reported from of Auschwitz-Birkenau, facto- Warsaw, Poland, on the occa- ries whose main product was sion of its 70th anniversary of death. They are gravesites for "Zegota," the official unit of ,more than 1.1 million-- most the Polish Underground Army tasked with helping Jews in German- occupied Poland from 1942-1945. As one walks along the streets on which Jews were murdered in Warsaw, the horror and the heroes of World War II Poland are palpable. In this centuries- old center of Polish and Polish- Jewish culture, neighborhoods became ghettos and friends became enemies. Images of the barbed wire and stone that en- closed the bodies of hundreds of thousands were almost tangible on a cold December day. Though 70 years have passed since the las.t courageous hos- tages of hate were killed in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the moment is only a blink of an eye away. Only ruble remains as witness. When visited Aus- chwitz last month, Holocaust survivors gathered in the cold Polish winter. Each year, their numbers grow smaller. They remember the Nazi order: of them Jews. Besides the physical evidence in Poland, the issue of restitu- tion and reparations is another open wound remaining from the Holocaust. While signifi- cant amounts have been paid to the state of Israel, some cash, some material--Israel's Navy, for example, goes underwater in Dolphin Class submarines manufactured by German shipyards--some 70 years after the. end of World War II many survivors and their heirs remain without compensation.Ambas- sador David Peleg, formerly Israeli Ambassador to Poland and now director of the World Restitution Organization, isac- tively seeking but not yet receiv- ing reparations from numerous European governments. "We will have to see how things will continue--survi- vors don't get younger," Peleg said in an interview with JNS. org last year.