PLO officials, others push for a ‘strong and clear’ stand

Protesters shout slogans and wave the Jordanian flag during a protest near the American Embassy in Amman against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2017
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PLO officials, others push for a ‘strong and clear’ stand

AMMAN: Hamden Faraneh, a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), told the Amman-based radio Al-Balad that President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to organize a three-way summit with King Abdallah of Jordan and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt in response to the Donald Trump announcement.
Anees Sweidan, director of external relations for the PLO, told Arab News that Arab and Muslim leaders must stand up for their historic and religious responsibilities toward the occupied city of Jerusalem. “We are not looking for a statement but a strong and clear position that makes it clear that moving the embassy to Jerusalem will have strong and impactful results.”
Sweidan, who was born in Nablus and lives in Ramallah, says that he, like so many other Palestinians, can not go to Jerusalem to pray or to visit. “For years we have been barred from entering Jerusalem, but despite Trump’s position, which violated international law and goes against world opinion, we will not be stopped from saying that Jerusalem is the capital of our future Palestinian state.”
The Jordan Evangelical Council sent a letter to President Trump asking him to refrain from moving the embassy.
Retired Gen. Imad Mayyah, who heads the Jordan Evangelical Council, told Arab News that for a Jordanian Christian the issue of Jerusalem had the same effect as on any other Arab or on Muslims. “We feel anger about the irresponsible decision by President Trump, which provides rights to those who are undeserving while leaving Palestinian, whether Muslim or Christian, out in the cold.”
Mayyah said that he sees no affiliation with American Christian Zionist evangelicals who are said to be supporting the Trump decision.
“This issue is a national political issue and has nothing to do with our faith.” Mayyah said that he is certain that there are many who misinterpret the Bible and its meaning. “American Evangelicals are making distorted interpretations from a far land without any knowledge of the situation on the ground,” Mayyah told Arab News.
Najwa Najjar, an award-winning Palestinian filmmaker, told Arab News that there was a need to work on two parallel fronts.
“It is true we need to have a strong strategy for supporting the steadfastness of our people in Jerusalem, but at the same time we need to return to the Arab fold.”
Najjar said that since the Arab Spring erupted, Arabs have been so busy with other issues that they have lost interest in Palestine. “We need to revive the Arab spirit supporting the rights of Palestinians. Jerusalem is a unifying issue and we need to find ways to leverage that in a stronger way than we have.”
Najeeb Qadoumi, also a member of the PNC, wrote on his Facebook page that the best way to respond to the Trump speech is by canceling the term negotiations from the lexicon.
“We need to work together in a united way to agree on a strategy that should include different forms of boycotts and efforts to get more countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”
Usually moderate voices in Jerusalem also spoke out against the Trump decision.
Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the Palestinian Academic Society for International Affairs (PASSIA), told Arab news that to be steadfast Palestinians needed to respond in kind: “No negotiations, no mediations and no security coordination.”
Abdul Hadi said that the international law and order that Trump violated and Netanyahu challenged forced Palestinians to think in a different way. “We need to find new ways of being steadfast on our land with dignity and at the same time unmask the ethnic cleansing by the apartheid Israeli regime and those who support them.”
 


‘Of Fathers and Sons,’ a bleak look at transformation of children into militants

A boy stands on rubble following regime airstrikes and shelling in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus. (Reuters)
Updated 18 November 2018
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‘Of Fathers and Sons,’ a bleak look at transformation of children into militants

  • “The women are the biggest victims in this society,” Derki said
  • Derki: The horror in the film does not come from violence and blood and gore

LOS ANGELES: A group of children giggle as they play in a dusty, barren landscape near their home in northern Syria, but this is no ordinary game of catch, for their ball is a live bomb.
The macabre game of chicken is one of the most blood-chilling scenes in “Of Fathers and Sons,” filmmaker Talal Derki’s disturbing new expose on the grip of extremism in his native Syria.
“This is the scene that broke my heart,” Derki told AFP in an interview in Los Angeles this week, recalling the blood-chilling episode.
“I was seeing my six-year-old boy through the lens.”
For more than two years, the celebrated filmmaker lived with a family in a war-ravaged region bordering Turkey, focusing his camera primarily on the children to capture their gradual radicalization.
The result is a bleak and haunting 98-minute documentary that gives viewers rare insight into the brutal daily life of militants, who in recent years have sown fear across the globe.
“I call it the nightmare,” the 41-year-old filmmaker said, referring to the spread of the jihadist movement.
The film, released in the US on Thursday, won the world cinema documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Derki’s previous documentary, “Return to Homs,” won the grand jury prize at Sundance in the same category in 2014.
“Of Father and Sons” tracks Abu Osama, one of the founders of Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate group, as he leads two of his eight sons — Osama, 13, named after dad’s personal hero Osama bin Laden, and Ayman, 12, named after the current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri — down the path to jihad.
Berlin-based Derki said he gained Abu Osama’s trust by posing as a war photographer sympathetic to the militant cause and lived on-and-off with the family for two-and-a-half years, sharing their most intimate moments.
The horror in the film does not come from violence and blood and gore, Derki said. Rather the viewer is sickened as the documentary charts the children’s brutal transformation from innocent youths to fighters.
“This is a film that makes you understand how the brain functions,” Derki said. “You have the horror in the language, in the education, in a single moment.”
He said he is still haunted by several scenes in his film, notably the one with the children playing with the makeshift bomb.
In another scene, one of the children proudly boasts to Abu Osama — which means father of Osama in Arabic — about killing a little bird.
“We put his head down and cut it off, like how you did it, father, to that man,” the boy proclaims.
The bombed-out desert landscape that the family calls home and the fact that the family’s women are never shown or even heard adds to the sense of despair throughout the film.
“The women are the biggest victims in this society,” Derki said. “I was there for two and a half years and I didn’t even know what the mother of these children looked like.
“Her name was not uttered and her voice was never heard.”
Derki said that while his first documentary, “Return to Homs,” tracked the evolution of the Syrian uprising and the regime’s brutal crackdown, “Of Fathers and Sons” was an obvious next chapter in his quest to explain the country’s slide into chaos.
“We have to use our weapon — which is cinema — to show what is really going on there, who these people are, how they brainwash societies,” he said.
“We have to think before we bomb any area, before we let a dictator kill his own people with heavy weapons,” he added.
Derki said “Of Fathers and Sons” has had such a profound psychological impact on him that he has put down the camera for now as he concentrates on healing.
“I am still recovering,” he said. “I have to take medication to fall asleep, otherwise I have nightmares.”
He added that after the final shoot he had his right arm tattooed and his ear pierced to ensure he would not be tempted to try and embed with militants in the future.
“If you have tattoos or piercings, you cannot be with them,” he said. “So this was my way of making sure I don’t go back.”