Posts Tagged ‘israel’
Open Democracy’s Charlie Hoyle describes one filmmaker’s efforts to help preserve her native city of Bethlehem.
When Palestinian filmmaker Leila Sansour left Bethlehem in the 1980s there were no military checkpoints intimidating the city, no separation wall jutting into residential gardens, and no Israeli settlements dominating the horizon.
“I grew up in a very idyllic town, but I didn’t think of it like that as a child. There were forests of olive trees, fig trees, apricot trees and huge fields filled with grape vines,” she says. “All of this is lost in Bethlehem. Now what we have is a concrete forest of buildings.”
Sansour’s new documentary, Open Bethlehem, is the culmination of a ten-year journey of emotional reconnection with a city she left as a teenager to experience the wider world. It is also a tribute to the legacy of her father, who founded Bethlehem University.
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The fabric of everyday life in Bethlehem has fundamentally changed since Sansour left in 1983. The ancient city that gave birth to Christianity is now guarded by Israeli military watchtowers, which jut into main thoroughfares, and an eight-metre high concrete wall, which abuts residential properties. The wall cuts off the population from Jerusalem, historically Bethlehem’s twin city.
Israeli soldiers raid the city almost daily to arrest Palestinians, and the rolling hills surrounding the city have been replaced by concrete Israeli settlements.
Only thirteen percent of the Bethlehem governorate is accessible to Palestinians due to Israeli restrictions. Sansour says the Israeli military occupation is threatening the very survival of a way of life that had thrived for generations.