Thursday Night — 09.22.05 — Screening & Discussion with Avi Mograbi

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Thursday Night — 09.22.05 — Screening & Discussion with Avi Mograbi
1. About this Thursday Night
2. the complete details
3. Avi Mograbi – filmography
4. Press Clips for Avi’s recent film
5. Shaul’s refusal letter
6. Some links
7. petition in support of the occupation refusers

1. About this Thursday Night
What: Screening / Discussion
When: 7:00 pm
Who: as usual free and open to all
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor. See below for directions
In previous years we organized several discussions and screenings together with Avi Mograbi. We are very and extremely happy he is back in New York and that he will be discussing some of his new works with us!
As some of you may know, Shaul Mograbi – Berger, Avi’s son, refused to serve in the Israeli Army, and he is currently in prison for that reason… some of the short videos will be concerned with Shaul’s engagement and refusal. For example:
1. a short film concerning the Palestinian village of Bil’in and the resistance of its inhabitants to the separation wall. (12 min)
2. The Shovrim Shtika soldiers testimonies about their service in Hebron (www.shovrimshtika.org) video is also about 12 min long,
3. A video shot by the IDF spokesman at Hawara checkpoint with a lot of physical violence and the rationale behind it which is 6 minutes long.
in addition, we will also be screening many of the details of his most recent film, see #2. the complete details, below.
We hope you will be able to join us for what should be an interesting screening and discussion.
2. the complete details
during the making of “Avenge but one of my two eyes” Avi released a few shorts that contain scenes from the film called details. Altogether there are 10 details in 4 compilations (Detail; Details 2 & 3; Detail 4; Details 5,6,7,8,9 &10) depending on time and discussion, we will see as many of the details as possible.
following is the synopsis of his above mentioned film “Avenge but one of my two eyes” his most recent film which is shown at the New York Film Festival.
“O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee only this once, that I may be avenged of the Philistines. O God, avenge but one of my two eyes”.
Thus Scriptural Samson, bound with fetters of brass to the pillars of the temple of Dagon, calls unto his Lord a moment before he brings down the house upon thousands of his enemies and torturers, and upon himself. This call for vengeance still echoes in the Middle East. Samson, the hero of a Hebrew founding myth, is the Palestinian suicide bomber of our time. “We’ve chosen death over a life of slavery”, calls Elazar Ben Yair, the Zealot leader, in the year 73 AD to his 967 besieged followers up on the hill of Masada, and tells them to die rather than be captured by the Romans. And in besieged El-Bire, during the “Defense Wall Operation”, the aggressive counter-attack of IDF on the occupied territories during the “El Aqsa” Intifada, Issa, a Palestinian man, who would never wield a weapon more dangerous than a camera, is imprisoned for weeks at home under curfew and the only relief he can find lays in the suicide bombers.
“The complete Details” is a ramble between three arenas at the height of the “El Aqsa” Intifada: the pracice of the Masada cult, reinvented in the mid-forties of the twentieth century and interwoven with the leading Zionist discourse; the condition of oppression and besiegement of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories; the continuous religious and secular cult of Samsom, aka “Samson the Hero”. Real places, times and situations penetrate one another and integrate, presenting the Israeli reality as it is: embroiled, violent, suicidal.
3. Avi Mograbi – filmography
2005 Avenge but one of my two eyes
100 minutes, 35mm, documentary
Details 5 – 10
13 minutes, video, documentary
8 minutes, video, documentary
Gran Premio del Festival de Cine de Bilbao
Aprile Award – Milano Film Festival
Michael Moore Award for best documentary – Ann Arbor Film Festival
Details 2&3
8 minutes, video, documentary
Videozone – Tel Aviv
Documentary Fortnight – MoMA NY
Detail 4
5 minutes, video, documentary
72 minutes, 35 mm, documentary
Peace Film Award – Berlin Film festival
Best Film Award – It’s all True Documentary Festival – Sao Paulo
Wait, It’s the soldiers, I’ll hang up now.
13 min., documentary
“Ficcions” Documentals – Fundació “la Caixa” – Barcelona
2000At the back
32 minute video installation
Hertzelia Museum of Art
Videobrasil – Sau Paulo
Will you please stop bothering me and my family
7 minutes in a loop, video installation
“Is this your baby” – Hakibutz Gallery – Tel aviv
5 minutes in a loop, video installation
Hertzelia Museum of Art
Pallazo del Papesse – Sienna
Videoformes – Clermont Ferrand
1999Happy Birthday Mr. Mograbi
77 minutes, 16mm, documentary
Runner Up Prize – Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
Berlin International film festival
1997How I learned to overcome my fear and love Arik Sharon
61 minutes, video, documentary
Berlin Film Festival – International Forum
Edinburgh International Film Festival
1994The reconstruction (The Danny Katz murder case)
50 minutes, documentary, video
Israeli Film Institute Award for Best Documentary
12 minutes, fiction, 16 mm
Cracow Short Film Festival – Silver Dragon Award
Toronto Festival of Festivals
Israeli Film Institute Award for Editing
4. Press Clips for Avi’s recent film
If the Israeli left would have removed the gloves like Mograbi does, maybe it would have given the nationalist right wing a lesson.
Mograbi does not try to be objective for one single moment. He is deliberate and harsh. Only this way he succeds in putting through a nerve racking message…
….strong and powerful cinematic language.
Yhuda Stav, Yediot Ahronot
An enraged film, harsh and without compromise. This is one of the bravest films made here lately.
(the final scene of the film) is no less than one of the most astonishing and important moments in Israeli documentary film history.
Yair Rave, Pnay Plus
The film contains most powerful scenes that give it an added value exceeding the what’s usually achieved in the occupation-film genre.
Meir Schnitzer, Ma’ariv
a must-see film
Shmulik Duvdevani, YNET
Brave, smart and relevant, 9 out of 10.
Gidi Orsher, Galei Zahal
…a powerful and stirring document.
Hollywood Reporte
…one of the more reflective films on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
No need to fictionalise, the illusinative reality in the occupied territories goes beyond any imagination.
Cahiers du Cinema
5. Shaul’s refusal letter
Dear Sir
Re: My request to be exempted from military service in the Israeli Defense Forces
Through this letter, I would like to let you know that I refuse to serve in the Israeli army due to reasons of conscience. I request to be heard by a conscience committee and to be granted exemption from mandatory military service.
Non-violent resistance
When I try to consider in what kind of a world I would like to live, I know that such a world does not include violence.
At the moment, there exists a Palestinian movement of non-violent resistance against the separation wall in the Occupied Territories. Villagers, whose land has been confiscated, stage non-violent protests trying to prevent the further construction of the wall. Against these demonstrators, the Israeli army is using insane violence: tear gas canisters are hurled into village streets – sometimes almost reaching inside homes – stun grenades are thrown without any constraints. Soldiers chase and shoot at children who have thrown stones at them. I am only mentioning the things I saw with my own eyes – but there is much more.
In spite of the violent behavior of the soldiers, these demonstrations stay non-violent, and the local people do not give up.
When I witness how these people non-violently resist their oppression, the confiscation of their lands, the construction of the separation wall, and the occupation – it is obvious to me that I must support the Palestinians’ non-violent struggle towards their liberation from the occupation. My refusal is part of my role in that struggle. My refusal is one expression of my belief in non-violence, in the power of non-violent resistance, and it is part of my solidarity with the Palestinians who are resisting their oppression.
The army is executing a racist and violent policy.
My refusal results from my resistance against the army’s role in keeping things as they are. Things as they are: The Israeli army is present in the territories that were conquered in 1967 and oppresses the population of these territories. The army protects those who are in breach of the law – the settlers – while denying the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Why do I care? I believe that we and the Palestinians do not differ – we are human beings, equal under the law. The situation in the Occupied Territories, at the moment, is one of discrimination between Arabs and Jews, and the army is responsible for this state of affairs.
I refuse because I object to what the army is doing. The occupation is the problem. It is the main reason for my refusal to serve in the army. For as long as this army is an occupying power, it won’t have room for me. As joining the army is tantamount to approving its actions, I shall not serve.
Israel’s army, in the Occupied Territories, is not involved in defense activities. The occupation is a blatantly offensive enterprise, much like the settlements and the activities involved in protecting them.
Non-resistance to the occupation, and even more so to military service, is tantamount to approving of the occupation. The army is the executive force, and whether it would be within the national boundaries, or in the Occupied Territories, I am unable to participate in this organization’s activities.
Some say that my refusal is a non-democratic act. First of all – it is a democratic act.
Immoral actions are being committed in my name, and the army expects me to take part in this. Isn’t it deeply absurd that a citizen is not allowed to refuse to commit an act he considers immoral? In making my refusal, I do not follow positive law, according to which it is my duty to enlist for military service, but I am faithful to substantive law. The latter, as I learned during civics classes, is, as its name suggests: the foundation and essence of democracy. Democracy insists on human rights, on minority rights, equality, liberty and justice. The Israeli army is in breach of all of these. Instead it functions as an Apartheid police in the Occupied Territories – it undermines the freedoms of the Palestinian people, perpetuates the discrimination between Jews and Arabs, and withholds basic human rights on security-based pretexts.
It makes no sense that I am called to serve in the army in the name of democracy, as there can be nothing more remote from any notion of democracy than the occupation. Israel treats the Occupied Territories as if they were part of the sovereign state and has even settled them with its citizens, while ignoring the fact that on these annexed lands other human beings are living. Human beings, though admittedly not Jews. The Israeli state treats the land on which these people live as though it was its own, and yet these people do not accede to any of the civic rights to which they are entitled by dint of Israel’s imposed sovereignty. They have even been deprived of their human rights in favor of others – the settlers – who actually and without good reason are granted excess rights.
Some say that the army can be changed from within. I don’t believe that the army can be changed from within. The military is an extremely rigid hierarchical organization in which the simple soldier cannot act on his own judgment. It is based on blind obedience and on the fact that soldiers act under their superiors’ orders, and not as thinking and autonomous subjects. In the absence of well-defined criteria, the existence of a notion such as that of a manifestly illegal order still does nothing to prevent the trampling of rights. A soldier who has been taught to obey unconditionally is not likely to refuse an order, even just for fear of the consequences (court martial for refusing an order).
I am not prepared to be under the command of an Israeli army officer. I believe that brute force corrupts. Those soldiers at the army checkpoints who treat human beings as though they were animals are not evil by nature. They simply cannot resist the power they have over other people who are subject to their authority. Could I, too, find myself tempted to behave like that? I don’t intend to put myself to the test.
My refusal has a very personal origin too. The army is an organization whose aim is to fight (kill or be killed). It seems to me that if I am required to be part of such an organization, I should, in the very least, have faith in it and its aims. Once I do not believe that the organization’s actions are just and right, once I actually object to these actions, I cannot be part of it. Can I really be made to carry responsibility (to whatever extent) for the life and death of people when I do not have any faith in what I am doing?! And do I – or indeed does anybody else – have, in principle, the right to be involved in activities that sacrifice lives?
One thing that led me to this refusal is my visits to the Occupied Territories. I visited there several times. I participated in Ta’ayush demonstrations, joint actions with villagers in the Jerusalem area; I came along to shifts of MachsomWatch; I participated in demonstrations against the separation wall, and met people on a personal basis, too. The most fundamental impression I gained from these visits was that many people there are suffering for no good reason. Villages find themselves cut off from all sides; the wall crosses straight through a neighborhood’s main access road; people cannot move from one neighborhood to another for arbitrary reasons; the army demolishes houses; settlers and soldiers fire at civilians, and more.
The army wants me to be involved in these activities – whether more or less directly, it does not matter – which I regard as immoral and inhuman. Thus I have no other option than to refuse to participate.
Almost all of the Palestinians I have met have had horrific experiences with the Israeli army or authorities: a relative who died; a house demolished; a bullet fired by a settler or soldier and lodged in their bodies; months or even years in Israeli prison, sometimes under “administrative detention” – and endlessly many other things.
When I see all this suffering, most of which has been caused by the army or under its auspices, it’s clear to me that there’s no chance a solution will be found in this way. These people’s pain will only yield hatred. It’s obvious that this will not bring about a solution.
Due to my opposition to the suffering I have encountered I find I have no other option than to refuse to join the army and to contribute to the creation of more suffering.
Conscience is an entirely private matter. It is our conscience that either motivates or prevents each and every one of our actions. Since I have absolutely no doubt that my arguments are arguments of conscience, I know that there is no reason not to exempt me from military service.
I will never be part of the army of occupation and I will never take part in the oppression of the Palestinian people. That is why I demand to appear before a conscience committee and to be released from military service on grounds of conscience. I am ready to do alternative civilian service, outside the military context.
Shaul Mograbi – Berger
6. Some links
Support those who Refuse the Occupation!
previous events w/ Avi Mograbi
7. petition in support of the occupation refusers
Alex Cohn, Wissam Qablan, Orwa Zidan and Shaul Mograbi-Berger are currently in military prison for their refusal, on grounds of conscientious objection, to serve the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Alex Cohn (19) is currently serving a seventh term in prison, and has spent a total of 124 days in military jail. Alex is one of the initiators of the 2005 Shministim (high school seniors) letter, which was signed by about 350 young people. In this letter they state that they do not intend to serve in the Israeli army so long as it serves the Occupation. In his letter to the Minister of Defense, Alex writes among other things: “It is impossible to serve in the occupation army without taking part in the injustices it causes. The occupation is the result of a policy and not imposed by circumstances. The extent and power of its ramifications for the Israelis and Palestinians cannot be grasped. It is therefore unacceptable by any moral standard. Because one cannot serve in the army without taking part in the occupation, I cannot, in good conscience, enlist.”
Wissam Qablan (20) has spent 100 days in prison. He first refused to enlist already in late 2003 and did not appear at the National Induction Base on the appointed day. This year he decided to present himself and he was subsequently jailed several times over on the grounds of his refusal. Wissam says that he refuses to serve in the army because he regards it as a tool used by the government to conduct a policy that destroys both peoples. He will not become part of such an organization.
Orwa Zidan (19) is now spending his second 21-day term in military jail. His brother, before him, was imprisoned too after he refused to serve on conscientious grounds. He was released after five months. Orwa’s father, as well, was a CO in 1974, and his mother is active in the Druze refusal movement.
Shaul Mograbi-Berger (19), like Orwa, is currently in jail for a second term of 21 days. Shaul is an activist in the non-violent movement against the separation wall and with the Shministim. In his letter, dated January 2005, to the minister of defense, he wrote, among other things: “For as long as this army is an occupying power, it won’t have room for me. (…) Non-resistance to the occupation, and even more so to military service, is tantamount to approving of the occupation. (…) In making my refusal, I do not follow positive law, according to which it is my duty to enlist for military service, but I am faithful to substantive law. The latter, as I learned during civics classes, is, as its name suggests: the foundation and essence of democracy.”
The Forum of Parents ofConscientious Objectors (the Parents Forum) is asking you to sign the petition below in support of the occupation refusers and demanding their immediate release from military prison. (This petition will be published in the press.)
Refuse the Occupation
Now, that the smoke-screen of the disengagement plan has dispersed, it has become clear once again that Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories has by no means ended and is in fact gaining force. The Israeli government continues building the separation wall, expanding its illegal settlements and oppressing the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.
Wissam Qablan, Alex Cohn, Orwa Zidan, and Shaul Mograbi-Berger are in military prison for their conscientious refusal to enlist and take part in the occupation and its ensuing oppression. Their imprisonment is meant only to punish them and prevent them from obeying the dictate of their conscience.
We call upon the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff: Allow the jailed objectors to follow their conscience –
Free the Occupation Refusers!
sign at: refusers.petition@gmail.com
For further information: www.refuz.org.il, www.shministim.org.il
Donations: Please write cheques made out to New Profile and send to:
New Profile, POB 9013, Jerusalem 91090, Israel