Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Abraham's Path: Walking the Other Face of Palestine

API: Walking the Other Face of Palestine (2011) from One Light Cinema on Vimeo.

I love this video for Abraham's Path.
Firstly, walking across Palestine, and the greater Middle East, is a beautifully simple action and way of investing in the situation that matches the frankness and honestness with which Palestinians accept their visitors. I think the people who would sign up for such an endeavor are hardy and patient, good representatives of their culture, and the people they meet along the way would teach them many things about Palestine.
Secondly, the local organization which Abraham's path works with for logistics and connecting with guides, the Siraj Center, is excellent. Their people are fun and strong and frank and know the landscape politically and geographically through and through. The worked with us on the Bike Palestine trip and were the saving grace to an otherwise hilariously dysfunctional experience.
Thirdly, the filmmaker's a consummate pro, and pulled a light and luster out of the Palestinian spring that I envy. He also had the temerity to get close-up shots with people in the villages and streets, men and women, which speaks legions to his fluency in the culture and ability to communicate with people.

I want to do work like this.

The one criticism I have of this short film is the gloved-approach they take towards one of the main facets of Palestine: the occupation. I've gone along the route they took, by bicycle, and I know for a fact the tourists I was with learned profoundly from the contrast of villager kindness and simplicity and the restrictions and difficulties they face with their militarized neighbors in the settlements. In the film Hebron, a city nearly destroyed by the prison-like conditions the tension between settlers and locals create, is intentionally glossed over as a normal place, when in fact the tomb of Abraham is divisively pivotal to the city's situation: it is because of the tomb that settlers are so fiercely dug in there. It makes sense that Abraham's Path would omit this, as to them Abraham is a symbol of the uniting aspects the 3 religions of the book share. This is their goal: to dwell and uphold the commonalities that make us human as a path towards peace rather than be divided by our differences. But once someone comes to Palestine they learn undeniably that there is an imbalanced power structure to the division, and the conditions are slowly choking off the future of the people here. To omit this reality in pursuing a dialog towards common ground and peace seems confused, or ineffective, or capitulatory, to me.

But everyone who's spent some time thinking about the conflict here already knows this, and since everyone else is constantly imbedded in the negative aspects it's nice to see and beautiful, hopeful film. I just hope they're being hopeful in the name of progress, and not to avoid stepping on powerful toes.

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