Occupation 101 Revisits Old Conflicts

Last week, in collaboration with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and co-sponsored by Cinema Politica, Concordia hosted the Canadian premiere of Occupation 101, a striking documentary about the contemporary and historical causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian point of view.

Last week, in collaboration with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and co-sponsored by Cinema Politica, Concordia hosted the Canadian premiere of Occupation 101, a striking documentary about the contemporary and historical causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian point of view. Following the screening, film directors Abdallah Omeish briefly commented on the work and answered questions from an engaged audience.
Omeish, a Libyan-American who grew up in Virginia, was working for a big corporation in New York City before visiting Palestine with his brother Sufyan in 2000, a few months after the second intifada. Profoundly impacted by the horrendous life conditions and injustices they witnessed in Palestinian communities in occupied territories, the brothers undertook the mission to tackle the issue by shooting a documentary. With no previous experience in film production, the Omeish brothers planned to complete the piece within six months, but it took them five years. “It was all worth it,” explained Abdallah at the screening. “Today our work is gratifying because we feel like we have done something.”
The movie sets off with fast-paced editing of footage from violent confrontational episodes, contrasting the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict with fragments of historical events such as the Algerian war against the French colonial occupation, India’s fight for independence from England, the battle to end South African apartheid, and the civil rights movement in the United States.
Although historically significantly different, these events are all the result of oppression, discrimination, and power abuse. This introduction really sets the tone for the film.
In order to disclose a comprehensive analysis of the facts surrounding the conflict and demystify common beliefs and misconceptions about the Arab world and the relationship between Palestinians and Jews, the film makers offer a brief historical overview combined with current episodes, through which they underline what they see are the major obstacles standing in the way of lasting, viable peace. Their information was backed up by a series of aberrant statistics and interviews with influential individuals, human activists and scholars among them. The filmmakers also adopt a one-on-one, on-the-ground approach with touching testimonies from Palestinian families and children whose lives are directly affected by the conflict.
For those of you who have pro-Israeli or Zionist views, this documentary might leave you cold. It’s very one-sided and fails to provide a strong Jewish perspective. It is probably by choice that the filmmakers did not include an opposite point of view, as their area of concern is mainly centered on the conditions of Palestinians under Israeli rule.

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