The other side of an issue from the other side of the world


A West Bank native introduced his brother’s documentary film about the struggles of a Palestinian village against Israeli aggression at the Kennedy Center on Tuesday afternoon.

The documentary, “5 Broken Cameras,” showed non-violent demonstrations which the Palestinian village of Bil’in began in an effort to defend its land from Israeli settler encroachment.

“You will see how they killed our friend with a tear gas canister,” said Iyad Burnat, who introduced the film by telling his audience of the project’s specific purpose. “This is a message to the American people because the weapons are from the U.S.”

Iyad Burnat is the brother of the filmmaker, Emad Burnat. Iyad Burnat is touring the U.S. to present the film, which has been nominated for Best Documentary in the 2013 Academy Awards.

The audience filled every seat in the Kennedy Center conference room. Students even rearranged the furniture to provide more seating in the overflow.

Some students in the audience were part of the Middle Eastern studies program, and two students showed their interest in the Arab cause by wearing kufiyehs, scarves that demonstrate support for Arab nationalism.

The event was also well attended by faculty. The audience included five professors of Arabic and Middle Eastern studies.

One Arabic professor in attendance was Dilworth Parkinson, who said that the event was a beneficial experience for  students.

“I thought it was very powerful, especially for my students,” Parkinson said, who is the program director of the Arabic Language Learning Study Abroad in Jordan, Israel and Palestine. “They’ve been there and seen the wall and don’t get to see the other side.”

In the context of such a complicated conflict, Parkinson reminded students that such a documentary is “truth, but not the whole truth.”

The film showed the wall itself from its early construction onward. Burnat’s documentary focused on one of the Palestinian villages where the wall was built. It showed the Palestinians’ creative protest efforts, which began in 2005 and continued on a weekly basis for years.

To provide context for the events in the film, Chad Emmett, a geography professor, began the presentation with a lesson on “Geography 101 of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Emmett showed a map and described some of the recent history of the West Bank, including the separation barrier which Israel is building there.

Tyler Yorgason, a Middle Eastern studies and Arabic major, appreciated that the documentary presented information by Palestinians, about Palestinians.

“It was very interesting to have somebody there who was part of the experience,” Yorgason said.

The Kennedy Center event provided BYU students and faculty with the opportunity to explore events in the Middle East.

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