At the end of a film presentation of life today in Palestine, the invited audience at the Citizens’ Theatre sat in silence. Almost in tears, organiser, Sahira Dar spoke for everyone when she said: ‘It is very emotional. This short film tells us more than an long talk. We can see for ourselves how apartheid destroys living and takes lives.’
The event was the launch of a thought provoking exhibition by Friends of Al-Aqsa showing photographs and art works highlighting how apartheid is operated by the state of Israel in its dealings with Palestine and people in Palestine.
Those who use apartheid in this context are witnesses to the inhumane way Israel treats Palestine and Palestinians.
One of the exhibitors was Edinburgh based Phil Chetwynd who has spent several weeks in different small Palestinian towns in recent summers giving photographic and camera workshops: ‘I’ve become aware that Israel is a rogue state. It is doing things which are in flagrant breach of international laws. It is stealing Palestinian land. Effectively this is ethnic cleansing.’
He spoke to the film which was shown. Made by his host Bilal Tamimi in collaboration with an Israeli film-maker is shows how Israeli troops shot tear gas at a small crowd of youths, how the troops manhandled children and women and it showed some of the wounds caused by rubber bullets. The attack on the villagers appeared to go on for most of a day. Said Phil: ‘skunk water is also power-hosed over people and some of the land. This is an obnoxious, poisonous water which rendered one house that was doused, uninhabitable for more than two months.’
The exhibition runs till Friday 24 February and is in the foyer of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. It shows some of the photographs resulting from Phil’s workshop in October last year in Nabi Saleh where he worked with local man Ahmad Al-Bazz to give a group of young people aged from 11 to 17 photography skills.
Their collage in the exhibition shows the portrait of an earlier workshop attendee from 2010. The 17-year-old boy, Youssef Ikhlayl was shot dead in January 2011 by a bullet from an Israeli settler colony while he was working beside his father in the family field. ‘This exhibition is dedicated to him,’ says his picture caption. ‘No one has ever been arrested for his death.’
Artists and photographers from around the UK and beyond were invited to submit work for the exhibition on the theme – ‘This is Apartheid.’ Said Friends of Al-Aqsa spokeswoman, Sahira Dar: ‘This took months to organise. We selected those we felt represented the theme best. Artists include some from Glasgow, one from Cambridge and a drawing by a school boy in Gaza. They cover all ages and include professional photographers and artists as well as amateurs.’ She said the Friends would like to have the exhibition tour different venues.
Added Sahira: ‘I would like people outside of the pro-Palestine groups to come and view these images and be moved by them and go home and talk about what they’ve seen.’