The Asociacion Palestina Biladi organized its third festival of Arab cinema created by women in San Sebastian/Donostia in the Basque Country on 1 and 2 June, highlighting Palestinian struggles through film and discussion.
On 2 June, the program focused on Palestinian political prisoners, with a screening of “A Stone’s Throw from Prison,” a one-hour documentary focusing on the imprisonment of Palestinian children in Israeli jails, which today number over 330. Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, spoke after the film alongside the film’s director, Raquel Castells. Castells discussed the process of making the film as well as her own experience in meeting the children and families impacted by imprisonment and learning how significantly it has affected their lives. She discussed connecting with Palestinian organizations who work with children who are ex-prisoners, as well as the reluctance of large international NGOs to address imprisonment directly, as well as the torture, solitary confinement, and ill-treatment that is part of the detention, interrogation, and imprisonment process for Palestinian children.
Kates provided an overview of the current situation of Palestinian prisoners, including the present-day statistics: over 7000 Palestinian prisoners, 750 of them in administrative detention without charge or trial, over 330 child prisoners and 71 imprisoned women. She highlighted how imprisonment is used by the Israeli state as a means of colonial control that is part and parcel of the imposition of a racist state in occupied Palestine. Kates noted that the issue of imprisonment is one that affects all sectors of the Palestinian people, noting how the present-day system of military orders governing the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank is based on the military law imposed on Palestinians in 1948 occupied Palestine until 1966. She noted the role of administrative detention in targeting Palestinian community and political leaders and removing them from their people, as well as the military courts’ status as a sham “legal system” that places a veneer of legitimacy on military occupation. She noted in particular the criminalization of Palestinian political organizing and existence, with all major Palestinian political parties labeled prohibited organizations and membership or “affiliation” with them criminalized.
Kates highlighted the case of Palestinian leftist political leader, parliamentarian and feminist Khalida Jarrar and her upcoming release on 3 June. She concluded by urging those participating to build the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and noted in particular the role of the British-Danish security corporation G4S in providing security systems, control rooms and equipment to Israeli prisons and the importance of continuing to pressure G4S despite previous assurances that it is planning to sell its Israeli business.
Discussion continued after the film on a range of issues related to the making of the film and the situation of Palestinians struggling for liberation.
The Thursday night event followed the 1 June opening of the festival, where Annemarie Jacir’s film “When I Saw You” was screened, followed by a lecture and discussion with Palestinian writer and activist Tamara Tamimi. The feature film, set in 1967 among Palestinians displaced to Jordan in the Naksah amid the rise of the modern Palestinian revolution, telling the stories of a mother and her young son.
Tamimi placed the film in a factual historical context of the continuity of Palestinian struggle, from prior to 1948 to the present day. She highlighted the role of Palestinian women in the film and in life and struggle, so often suppressed or made invisible in Western accounts of Palestinian politics and life. She recalled Palestinian women’s role in the armed struggle, as well as the role of Palestinian women as workers, community members, teachers and mothers. Tamimi discussed the experiences of her own family in Palestine due to colonization, and, in particular, the attempts to force Palestinians from Jerusalem and deny their Jerusalem IDs and right to the city. She also discussed the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions and the growing international BDS movement among students, trade unionists, and social justice movements around the world.
Biladi is actively involved in the BDS campaign in the Basque Country and works with organizations throughout Spain. It organizes events, activities and actions in solidarity with Palestine and highlighting Palestinian history, life and culture.