This 2009 documentary, produced by a crew comprising of Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, is about a small Palestinian village called Budrus and maps out Israel’s plans for creeping and deliberate and illegal annexation of Palestinian lands and reveals some of the thought process that allows the occupation forces to justify, to themselves, why they should be allowed to raise walls, steal land, destroy Palestinian villages and imprison Palestinians who resist occupation. It also shows how the villagers of Budrus tried to peacefully and bravely resist Israeli land grabbing and occupation and how they found allies in the most unusual of places.
I would recommend anyone with an interest in the Palestinian struggle to watch this documentary all the way through but here are just some of key moments..
- Early on in the struggle to say the village, the Palestinian women from the village decide to join the protest en-masse, which momentarily throws the Israeli forces off guard but then they respond by attacking the women with batons, rubber bullets and stun grenades.
- British supporters join the protest days later and while they are also confronted by Israeli soldiers, this time, the response is more subdued. One soldier even attempts to tell the British protesters that they are on trespassing on “army territory”
- Help then comes from the most surprising of sources – Israeli activists, who risk being attacked and even put in prison, join the protests and stand on the front line, which one female Israeli soldier then admits prevented them from attacking the Palestinians because soldiers are not allowed to attack Israelis or journalists.
- In one touching moment when you see Israeli soldiers try to isolate and attack one of the Israeli activists with batons, a group of Palestinian women run over to try and pull the soldiers off him.
- As the little village of Budrus starts to attract international attention, they suddenly find themselves hosting a delegation of South African leaders but that appears to inflame things even further because now the Israeli officers want to arrest the Israeli activists helping the Palestinians so the Palestinians decide they will protects the Israeli activists by forming a protective human shield between them and the soldiers. The Israeli officers then respond by attacking the Palestinian frontline with batons, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
- As matters escalate, the village of Budrus is then placed under a military curfew and the military violence towards the villagers escalates. Israeli soldier are seen taunting villagers and one soldier starts chanting “Budrus is ours, Budrus is ours”. Unfortunately, the violence and provocation triggers a response from Palestinian youths who then start throwing stones so the soldiers respond by invading the village and shooting at the villagers (men, women and children) with stun grenades and even live ammunition.
The struggle for Budrus continued for 10 months but largely involved peaceful daily protests by villagers and their Israeli allies. Budrus and her allies actually prevailed in the end and forced the Israeli authorities to re-route their wall away from the village and closer to the current border.
This critically acclaimed documentary won 16 international awards and opened a lot of eyes to the reality faced by Palestinians on a daily basis. Precisely the sort of truth missing from our screens and in the mainstream media today.