Palestinians Use 'Avatar' to Protest West Bank Barrier
2010-02-13 0:00

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

Sweden may be at war "in a few years" - top brass in leaked document
2016-02-13 5:24
In a few years Sweden may be engaged in a war with a “qualified opponent” after two centuries of peace, a senior Swedish commander has told soldiers in an internal brochure. The alarming message was reportedly sent by Major General Anders Brännström, the Army chief, in a brochure distributed among the participants of a major annual event that is to open ...
Danish imam urges govt to accept child marriages among refugees
2016-02-13 4:57
A high-profile imam has urged the Danish government to accept child brides, as the practice is part of the culture of many refugees arriving in the country. It follows an announcement by Denmark that such couples will be separated under Danish law. Imam Oussama El-Saadi, of the Aarhus mosque in Denmark, said that child brides should be looked at from a ...
White Parents in Virginia Shutdown White Guilt Video!
2016-02-13 4:56
You see folks? This is what happens when you stop blaming the Joo, and you get the fuck off your favorite bitch corner and start taking action! This is what happens when parents start parenting again! What? You’re gonna brainwash our kids with your filth and lies? We don’t think so. How would you like an empty school with no ...
Hungarian Top Economist: Civil War is Coming to Europe
2016-02-13 2:36
Zsolt Bayer, Hungarian journalist, publicist, and co-founder of Hungary's currently ruling political party, and Dr. László Bogár, former politician and leading economist, discuss the Cologne sexual assualts committed by migrants on New Year's Eve, 2016. This short part of the 60-minute long television program that aired on Echo TV on January 8, 2016, is of a rant by Mr. Bogár warning ...
British scientists granted permission to genetically modify human embryos
2016-02-12 23:48
The Francis Crick institute will genetically edit the leftover embryos from from IVF clinics British scientists have been granted permission to genetically modify human embryos by the fertility regulator. The scientists want to deactivate genes in leftover embryos from IVF clinics to see if it hinders development. It will only be the second time in the world that such a procedure has ...
More News »