Palestinians Use 'Avatar' to Protest West Bank Barrier
2010 02 13

By Carl Franzen | AOLNews.com

The conflict in the Middle East took on an especially cinematic quality Friday, when activists representing a small Palestinian village dressed up like the oppressed aliens from the blockbuster movie "Avatar" before staging a demonstration in front of the Israeli West Bank barrier.


Video from: YouTube.com

"When people around the world who have watched the film see our demonstration and the conditions that provoked it, they will realize that the situations are identical," said Mohammed Khatib, one of the leading Palestinian protesters against the barrier.

In an interview with AOL News, Khatib explained how the idea to impersonate Na'vi, the movie's subjugated blue-skinned race, sprouted in Europe. There, a Palestinian author and documentary filmmaker named Liana Badr was so moved by the film's similarity to the Palestinian experience in the West Bank that she recommended it to Khatib.

Unfortunately, Khatib and his fellow villagers couldn't just rush off and catch the next matinee – there are no cinemas in their area, he said. Instead, a fellow activist snagged a bootlegged copy last Sunday.

"After we watched it, we began to do research on the film and discovered how much attention it was getting around the world," Khatib said of the film that has grossed more than $2 billion so far around the world. "We learned that Chinese villagers had adopted the name of the mountain range in the film for their own mountains, that hundreds of millions of people around the world saw and sympathized with the Na'vi."

Immediately drawing a parallel between the Israelis who have joined their movement and Avatar's human hero-turned-alien Jake Sully, Khatib and his fellow activists began planning the event. Ibrahim al Kadi, a visual artist from a nearby village, was recruited to handle makeup. Others gathered rubbish to use as makeshift props.

Six days later, five protesters, including three Israelis, marched up to the Israeli Army blockade in full Na'vi gear. As they chanted for an end to the occupation of their lands, a bevy of journalists and various onlookers followed. Israeli forces responded by firing dozens of rounds of tear gas and sound grenades at the movie impersonators.

"At first they were surprised," Khatib said with a laugh. "But then they began shooting and we felt like it was a scene from the movie again, except it was real, and it was taking place in the village."

Despite the Israeli response, Khatib considers the event a success.

"We're very proud of how it happened," he told AOL News. "It drew much media attention to our cause. Like the film, the occupation has sent us a message that they can take whatever they want and we can't stop them. But we sent them a message in return: They cannot take whatever they want. This is our land!"

The rural villagers of Bil'in, population 1,800, say they are separated from a majority of their farmlands by fences, barbed wire and an Israeli military blockade that is part of a 256-mile-long barrier Israel began building in 2002 amid a sharp uptick in attacks by Palestinian militants.

Two years later, the the International Court of Justice ruled that the barrier violated international human and property rights and issued a resolution calling for Israel to halt new construction and dismantle those sections that crossed into the West Bank territories. Israel's own Supreme Court decisively rejected this in 2005, however, prompting influential residents of Bil'in and international activists to begin holding civil demonstrations every Friday. CNN notes the protesters claims that six of their number have been killed by Israeli forces since then.

Over the years, the demonstrations have grown increasingly artistic and theatrical as activists began appropriating images from global pop culture in an effort to attract a wider audience and draw sympathy to their cause. A giant paper chain of people holding hands, a classic pinstripe chain gang and Santa Claus have also made their way into the weekly protests.

Two and a half years ago, the Israeli Supreme Court changed its mind and ordered that the path of the Bil'in fence be adjusted to give back 30 percent of the land. While the Bil'in activists have embraced the gesture, they still don't believe it is enough and plan to keep protesting until the Israeli army leaves their town and removes the barrier.

Article from: AOLNews.com



Related Articles
Does 'Avatar' Contain Hidden Messages?
UN Calls on Israel to Halt Demolition of Palestinian Homes
Inside the Occupation 2009 [Palestine - Israel]
Israeli Army Makes Shirts Promoting the Killing of Palestinians
Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?
Foiling Another Palestinian 'Peace Offensive'
Depopulation, Destruction and Displacement of the Palestinian People


Latest News from our Front Page

Slaves of Charleston - Beyond Wealth of Jewish South Carolina
2014 09 15
Founded in 1749 in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, the Beth Elohim Synagogue is one of the very earliest synagogues in America. While other synagogues and congregations are also now a part of Charleston city life, Beth Elohim Synagogue is the oldest one in the area and serves as the repository for certain historical artifacts of Jewish life in the city. ...
Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars
2014 09 15
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. The finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition ...
Swedish Surprise: Anti-Immigration Party Surges...
2014 09 15
Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt Sunday’s election in Sweden was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Left. The Drudge Report ran a piece yesterday from the Guardian entitled: “Free-market era in Sweden swept away as feminists and greens plot new path.” The paper, a left-wing British outlet, published the piece the day before the election; it proved to be, well, ...
UK School to fingerprint students to ‘monitor their diets’
2014 09 15
STOURBRIDGE, England – A school is implementing a biometric system to better track what students are eating each day. The Express & Star reports students at Redhill School in Stourbridge, England will be fingerprinted in an attempt to reduce lunch lines and “monitor pupils’ diets.” The system requires pupils to press a finger against a machine which converts the print into ...
U.S. State Department Orders 160,000 Ebola Hazmat Suits
2014 09 15
The U.S. State Department has ordered 160,000 Hazmat suits for Ebola, prompting concerns that the federal government is anticipating the rapid spread of a virus that has already claimed an unprecedented number of lives. In a press release posted by Market Watch, Lakeland Industries, a manufacturer of industrial protective clothing for first responders, announced that it had signaled its intention “to ...
More News »