Farah Nabulsi’s Oscar-nominated The Present shows the daily oppression faced by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, finds Sybil Cock
The Present is only 24 minutes long, so no spoilers here – it is a must-watch for everyone. Farah Nabulsi’s short film which shows a day in the life of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank has been nominated for an Oscar.
It is a beautiful movie that sums up very simply the daily ordeals in Occupied Palestine. It shows the journey of Yusuf with his little daughter Yasmine to go shopping in a nearby village, for groceries and for a present for his wife.
The Israeli checkpoints make this simple trip into a nightmare – but a familiar one for all Palestinians. There is humour among Palestinians and conflict among the Israeli soldiers. Yusuf is humiliated and despairing of what this shows Yasmine while trying to protect her from the horror of all those trigger-happy soldiers.
The film juxtaposes the treatment of Israeli settlers who are allowed to use the road to pass the checkpoint and met with friendly smiles and banter, and the throngs of Palestinians cramped into the narrow, fenced area like cattle in the scorching sun.
What it also shows is that contrary to the myth that Israel tries to propagate, the majority of the hundreds of checkpoints across the West Bank are between Palestinian areas, not separating them from Israel. For a Palestinian, even if you have your ID and any required paperwork, Israeli soldiers can choose to refuse you access, to detain you for “security reasons” and humiliate you for no reason whatsoever.
As we also see at one point in the film, soldiers can choose to arbitrarily close a checkpoint at any given time and refuse to let Palestinians through what is often the only route they can take to get to where they’re going.
The infuriating ordeal that Yusuf and his daughter have to go through at the hands of the Israeli soldiers is punctured only by the loving relationship of Yusuf and his daughter and the kindness and generosity they find in other Palestinians.
If you have visited Palestine, you may recognise the checkpoint in Bethlehem with its lengthy queues of tired people, and the glorious landscape.
Watch this movie and think about what you can do to campaign for justice in Palestine.
One thing you can do is join the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and help build the movement to challenge our government’s role in helping to facilitate the occupation of Palestine. If you’re already a member, please sign up for the Annual Conference on April 24th here.
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