“Jerusalem…The east side story” Film Review
“We live in fantasy, they live in denial, and one day we should both come to reality.”
Was it sheer coincidence, sad irony, or just another day in Palestine under Israeli military occupation? My father and I drove through the last Israeli checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem while heading to the Palestinian National Theatre at the invitation of The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees to attend the premiere of a new documentary on Jerusalem. The car radio switched from music to a news report — a Palestinian home in Jerusalem was demolished that morning by Israeli occupation authorities, leaving yet another Palestinian family homeless. We sighed in disgust but did not comment to one another because there was nothing new to say.
As we entered the plaza of the theatre, we were met by film director Mohammed Alatar. Alatar is known for his outstanding previous documentary, The Iron Wall, which depicts the Israeli strategy of creating facts on the ground — facts that are rapidly precluding a negotiated peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
The theatre was packed. Palestinian Jerusalemites both young and old, staff from dozens of international agencies based in Jerusalem, donor representatives, foreign representatives, media, and the crew that produced the film were all present. One group conspicuously absent was Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Those from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, Gaza, Rafah, and Hebron are all prohibited by Israel from entering Jerusalem without special permits that are rarely issued. The Iron Wall and Alatar’s new documentary, Jerusalem…The east side story, reveal the policies that aim to Judaize the city and control Palestinian demographic growth. The resulting collective punishment is part of a larger scheme to pressure Palestinians into submission or flight.
Jerusalem…The east side story squeezes nearly one hundred years of history into less than an hour of cinema. It mainly exposes the past fifty years of Israeli military occupation policies in Jerusalem and their devastating impact on the city and its people.
The producer of the film, Terry Boullata, stated at the outset of the evening that the documentary intends to bring the Palestinian…