Friday, November 11, 2011

Finding Gaza in Minneapolis

Gaza Shield

 Do you ever just find things, people and events?  I found an event sponsored by the only Arab American Arts organization in the United States by chance.  I hadn't seen one flyer, ad or commercial.   The information came to me in the guise of my bodily hunger when I stopped at a place called Yafa, noted for their slogan, "Best Gyro in Town".  The owner personally tended to my request, and asked if I had just come from the Heights Theater.  He seemed so disappointed at my negative response and handed me a brochure.  "You really should go, it's only a few blocks down."
A small restored theater that I had noticed during my daily commute, that seemed to show a string of message movies that would catch my eye.  Today it had my undivided attention, as it will this weekend.  I looked at the red theater, recalling that in the past it showed dollar movies when I was a kid.  Seeing it restored to its past glory caught my attention, because I had never seen it look so beautiful.  The theater is the place of stories.  This story of Gaza, is one that is told to Americans in parcels of programming when you listen to our media, politicians and churches.  It is seldom told through those who are experiencing the real conditions that the people are enduring in only 350 square kilometers.  People who have only wished to have their homes, families and lands restored.

Though I saw Gaza-Strophe Palestine and Hawi, both highly recommended and rarely viewed in this nation, only seen through events, such as this; I wanted to address the importance of this small 18 minute film called Gaza Shield and what it represents.  The power to do something positive with limited resources.  Three friends with a small gaming company put aside all of their income generating projects to create a game with an objective to save Palestinian children from being bombed.  A tool, as the creators envisioned, to give a voice to the powerless to be able to do something.  While you might not see how this might not be so important, this was actually a response to a game that actually encouraged the killing and virtual funding of war efforts called Raid Gaza.  The objective is simply to destroy the resources and people of the Gaza strip.  It's the conditioning of 'it's just a game' used for violent means for military members to be desensitized to the horrors of war.  The term war, I would use loosely, since there is no resistance force that is unified enough to stand against Israel and the massive funding they receive from her strongest ally, America.

I spoke with Tania Khalaf, the filmmaker and David Lee Hamilton, the editor after the viewing because I wanted to thank them for showing one simple thing, it had not mattered what tools they had, but they had the willingness to use what they had to respond.  To tell the story, to not be silent, but from right where they were at, they were able to do something more powerful than to fire a single weapon.  They told us in order so that all of us can make a difference, a ripple in someone's life.  To pass on the knowledge that yes, there are good people that exist and have opened their own eyes to see what really matters in this world.

I also saw this small film as a mandate to not ignore the pain and suffering of others.  This is our generation's holocaust.  It is also our opportunity for one of two paths.  An opportunity towards global peace by realizing the complete insanity of war or it will be a path of total global destruction because we can't cure ourselves of a hatred that never ceases.  The art of agreement comes when we realize that we have the capacity to be the person we have desired to be our entire lives, but felt incapable of being.  Only you can continue to accept the way things are.  You don't need violence to make a change or to send a message.

There were many moments of complete silence I observed tonight, throughout the showings.  It was the complete silence of the shared moment as people heard and witnessed the suffering of others.  As we view many of the protests around the world over money and austerity measures, the people of Palestine are hoping not to have their homes bombed, hoping not to be run over by tanks and hoping that there are still good people in the world.  Let us honor their hope.  Let us demand that murder ceases being done in our name.
Tania Khalaf (center) and David Lee Hamilton
Now that we know, we are no longer innocent parties.  We know.  Now that we know, we  must be the change that we desire to see in the world.  "Addicted to holding my tears when grieving the most.", was a line that struck me from the movie, Hawi.  That seems to apply right at this moment.  I continue to be too horrified to cry because I want my eyes to see as clearly as they can without input from a church doctrine, a political party or any other entity of systematic control.

What can we all be inspired to do with the tools we do have?

1 comment:

lilasvb said...

very rich to read you