The Town of Budrus versus the Israel Defense Forces: David versus Goliath

The powerful pro-pacifist documentary Budrus (2010), directed by Julia Bacha, is out on DVD today.

Budrus, a new documentary by Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha, tells the story of an olive-growing Palestinian village that resists the building of a wall through their fields. As depicted by Bacha, the townspeople are motivated in part by the wall’s symbolism — that its purpose could be to keep them out of Israel — but mostly because the barbed-wire barrier is set to run through olive farms that have provided the townspeople’s livelihood for generations and would, they say, kill most of their trees.

The film, released Tuesday on DVD and screening Wednesday at the United Nations, explores a widely resonant “David versus Goliath” regional meme: highly mechanized Israeli soldiers against hardscabble Palestinian villagers. The filmmakers also say they want to press the point that (largely) nonviolent resistance can win the day.

In Budrus, they provide evidence this can be true: After 10 months and more than 55 demonstrations that eventually attracted supporters from Israel and the international community, Israel rerouted the containment wall’s construction to the outskirts of the village.

“So many Americans and Israelis look at the conflict and have been asking, ‘Where is the Palestinian Gandhi, where is their nonviolent movement?’” Ronit Avni, founder of Just Vision, the politically and religiously unaffiliated organization behind the film, told wired.com. “Palestinians believe they had tried nonviolence in the 1980s, but that it doesn’t work. We wanted to address that gap in perception through the film.”

– Caleb Garling , “As Middle East Erupts, Timely Film Budrus Highlights Disruptive Power of Peace”, Underwire, 10 May 2011

In Washington, Ronald Reagan, by instinct a warm supporter of Israel, reflected that in the public perception, Israel had been transformed from the “David” to the “Goliath” of the Middle East.
– William E. Smith, “Crisis of Conscience”, Time Magazine, 4 October 1982.

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