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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Evan Johnson at 2:02AM
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Blog was written by Evan Johnson, Journalism Major, '13, FLEFF intern, Marlboro, Vermont 

As I’m sure you’re aware, the theme for FLEFF 2011 is “Checkpoints.” In creating a diverse and engaging line-up of events and speakers, the organizers and curators of the festival have examined and almost every possible interpretation of the words “Checkpoint” and “Environment.”  Tonight, I had the opportunity to explore how these words are connected to the expansion of Israeli settlements within Palestinian territories in Michael Kennedy’s presentation “Witnessing Iraq Burin: Stories from a Palestinian Village.”

In the West Bank, checkpoints are a part of everyday life. In the village of Iraq Burin, inhabitants face regular harassment and even armed violence from settlers of the nearby Bracha settlement as well as incursions by Israeli Defense Forces. As the people of Iraq Burin continue to lose farmland due to confiscation by the nearby settlement, the village had been the site of weekly nonviolent demonstrations. At a demonstration on March 20, 2010, two cousins Usaid Abd Qadus (19) and Muhammad Ibrahim Abdel-Qadr Qadus (16) were shot and killed with live ammunition. Usaid was shot in the head; Muhammad was shot in the chest when he ran to help his cousin. Muhammad was announced dead upon arrival at the hospital while Usaid died the next morning, several hours after undergoing surgery in an attempt to save his life.

Neither Usaid nor Muhammad was involved in that day’s demonstration and neither were active in any resistance group. The Israeli Defense Forces described their actions as justified, citing “riot dispersal tactics” and “less-than-lethal munitions” even though the boys were deliberately killed with live ammunition. Three elementary principles of international humanitarian law govern the use of force. These principles are distinction, necessity and proportionality. The willful targeting of unarmed civilians with live fire represents a grave breach the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This account heavily illuminates the themes of unnecessary death and remembrance. In cooperation with the intentions of FLEFF, the event also demands the perception and interpretation of a given environment. The presentation tonight demanded the viewers to analyze their own perceptions of the environment surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict. What is our interpretation of this environment? How should incidents like this change our perception of that environment? Tonight, through his effective and powerful use of photography and journal entries, Mr. Kennedy presented a different environment, one far from our own.

In solidarity,


*The official UNESCO report on this incident can be viewed here

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