“Five Broken Cameras” and Israeli Youth

In June 2012, Born Equal reviewed the Palestinian documentary film Five Broken Cameras, which documents anti-occupation protests in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The film’s directors, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, chose to spotlight local children’s experiences of the community’s conflict with Israeli forces. The directors film Burnat’s young son as he reacts to the film’s major events; other local children appear at protests or under military arrest.

The film’s child-eye perspective of Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance makes Five Broken Cameras  particularly moving to young audiences, including Israeli children.  In December 2012, the Israeli co-director of Five Broken Cameras began to develop a program to screen the film to Israeli high school students. During a pilot session, an Israeli teenager commented on footage of Israeli troops invading a private home late at night and arresting a young boy on suspicion of stone-throwing. The Israeli viewer stated, “We are their age, and if we were living in Bil’in they [the army] would knock on our doors at night to tell us that we threw stones.”

Another viewer observed that, over the course of the film, her emotional identification shifted away from the Israeli soldiers occupying Bil’in. Her comment underscores the fact that young Israeli viewers of the film are within a few years of entering their mandatory army service, which could require them to serve in the West Bank. Because Five Broken Cameras focuses on Palestinian children, it encourages young Israelis to identify with their Palestinian counterparts in addition to their peers in uniform. Indeed, several Israeli conscientious objectors have commented that the suffering of Palestinian children under Israeli occupation influenced their decision to refuse military service.

Guy Davidi is currently raising money to organize a series of screenings of Five Broken Cameras in Israeli high schools. More information about the campaign is available here.

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