There seems to be a never-ending debate about the separation barrier or security fence. The debate includes two different issues – one is the reason for the existence of the barrier and the other is the actual route that it takes. During the difficult years of the second intifada (2000-2003) when Israelis were living in the shadow of constant terror, the creation of a barrier between Israel and the West Bank was something that Israelis overwhelmingly supported. The government, however, exploited the opportunity that the barrier provided and used it as a land grab. Instead of putting it along the "green" line or border between Israel and the West Bank, the government planned the route through villages, separating people from their olive groves, and children from their schools. In some cases, after many demonstrations and appeals, this has been corrected.
Budrus, directed by Julia Bacha, a USA-Israeli-Palestinian co-production, is a documentary look at the struggle waged by the villagers of Budrus, a small village of 1500 persons in the West Bank. The original route of the separation barrier was to run right through the village and the olive grove. When the Israeli army arrived with bulldozers to begin uprooting olive trees to make way for the fence, Ayad Marrar, a local Palestinian activist, led the villagers in non-violent civil resistance. The film documents that resistance and how it grew and developed. First the men stood in opposition to the bulldozers. Then Marrar's articulate daughter became a leader of the village women, standing in front of the bulldozers, trying to stop them. The next stage was the participation of left-wing Israeli activists.
Not only is the film critical of the Israeli government in its planning of the route of the separation barrier through villages, dividing in many instances the villagers from their fields, but it is also critical of the Israeli army policy of resorting to violence and even brutality when dealing with local Palestinian demonstrators.
With the cooperation and participation of Israeli activists in the demonstrations, the non-violent villagers of Budrus were finally able to achieve their goal of having the separation barrier moved from its planned location to a position almost running along the green line. This method of peaceful resistance on the part of the villagers of Budrus in cooperation with the Israeli left-wing activists can now be seen as a model for other villages in the West Bank that are also trying to move the position of the separation barrier, and perhaps ultimately to end the occupation.
Budrus (2009, 78 minutes) is produced by Just Vision, the same group that produced Encounter Point (2006), the compelling documentary about bereaved families on both sides of the divide. Budrus is available from Just Vision in Washington DC and from Cinephilm in Tel Aviv.