Scenes from a racist state

Issue 

Not in my Garden
Video '48
Documentary video, in Arabic/Hebrew (with English subtitles)
US$55 individuals, US$100 institutions and groups
Send cheques to PO Box 41199, Jaffa 61411, Israel
Email <oda@netvision.net.il>

REVIEWED BY MALIK MIAH

The intifada in the occupied Palestinian territories exposes the myth of Israel as a democratic and civilised society. The real Israel is a brutal state formed on the blood and land of the Palestinian people. It is not the victim of colonialism and terrorism. It is the instigator of state terrorism.

A small example of how Israel acts towards its Arab "citizens" is told by an alternative independent film group inside Israel called Video '48, referring to the year of Israel's formation. The 50-minute documentary, Not in my Garden, is its first in a project to make films focusing on the problems of Palestinians inside Israel.

The documentary was released last October and had its first US showing in Berkeley and San Francisco at the end of July. I had an opportunity to see the video and hear a presentation by Assaf Adiv on Zionism's attitude to the Palestinians who live in the pre-1967 borders. The film was shown at the 8th Annual LaborFest, July 5-31. It's also been shown at six internationals film festivals.

Adiv is director of the Workers' Advice Centre (WAC). WAC seeks to help protect the rights of Palestinian workers inside Israel. One million Arabs suffer from institutionalised discrimination. WAC's chairperson, Asthma Agbariya, is a member of the Video '48 collective. Adiv explained that the video has been shown to both Palestinian and Jewish communities.

The video depicts a typical situation in Israel where Arab citizens are treated as third-class residents. It describes a conflict between the Arab village of Ramya (which has existed since the British Mandate in 1917) and a new town of Carmiel (first formed in 1964 by Jewish settlers). The Israeli state gave the settlers the Palestinians' land, which has been lived on by Arab farmers and workers for generations.

The brutal action was legal under Israeli law since the Jewish settlers needed land to build their town, which is now the high-tech centre of Israel.

The power of the video is in its contrasting of the lives of the Arab families and the Jewish settlers. The settlers received the best housing and resources, while the Arabs were removed from their grazing land and homes.

In one scene, a Jewish couple speak of the Arabs as happy with their fate because they are less civilised than Jews. Another Jewish immigrant grazing his animals is interviewed on hill he had never seen before being asked to go there by the government. The Arabs are nearby with their goats without any land to graze on.

Another scene shows an Israeli Independence Day celebration in the town square of Carmiel, while a Palestinian family is cramped in a two-room house on the outskirts of their former village. The celebration promotes the Zionist ideology that this is "our land, and always will be".

Because Ramya is inside Israel, in the Galilee, the Palestinians are able to use the laws to resist their removal. Of course, the battle can't be won. But the video shows that resistance is possible and important. It's why a group like WAC (made up of Arabs and Jews) exists and is an aid to the overall struggle of Palestinians for freedom.

Israel is a racist state. It is not what US Jewish leaders and the capitalist media teaches us. Assaf told me after a meeting with the San Francisco Central Labor Council how a pro-Israel union official criticised WAC and Video '48 for being "unfair". Why? Because, she said, the documentary failed to note the "good deeds" of Israel toward Israeli Palestinians, such building hospitals, schools, and so forth. "Only here", Assaf said, "can this make-believe-world of Israel ever be talked about. Everyone in Israel knows the truth."

Assaf also showed a "trailer" at the LaborFest about a fight of foreign-born construction workers. These workers have no rights. But what makes their plight more jarring is the fact that the workers are in Israel to replace Palestinian workers who are denied employment for "security" reasons. The Zionist project is to "cleanse" Israel of all Palestinians — not by genocide, but by making it impossible for Arabs to live on their own land.

Not in my Garden is a powerful video that should be seen and used by all opponents of racism and supporters of Palestinian rights.

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