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From the Archive: Israeli Dissident Miko Peled, Palestinian Activist Iyad Burnat

As Benjamin Netanyahu is ousted as Israeli prime minister and replaced by a potentially more extreme Naftali Bennett, here are two important perspectives from the PBC archive.This post was spurred by a recent column by Miko Peled at MintPress News, which updates us on the Burnat family of Palestinians on the West Bank.  As in my 2013 interview with Peled, his new report references the Burnat family:  the opening paragraphs explain the recent kidnapping by Israeli settlers of two sons of Iyad Burnat of Bil’in.  I interviewed Iyad in 2013 about his brother Emad’s Oscar-nominated 2013 film, 5 Broken Cameras.  Peled’s report goes on to describe his recent visit to the Negev region in southern Israel, where residents who are nominally Israeli citizens are clearly treated as second-class–affirming the description of Israel as an apartheid state, and disproving the claim that it’s a true democracy. Thanks to Carl Howard for tipping me to Peled’s new article.

Tech note: the full interview audio is now embedded in this podcast. 6.16.21

While many can momentarily rejoice at the ouster of the corrupt Netanyahu, his successor Bennett is a former lieutenant of Bibi’s whose history is even more extremely anti-Palestinian.  There is some hope that the fragile coalition that put him in power will moderate his actions, but we shall see.

First, here’s the text for the Peled interview; the audio is embedded in this post.

Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine offers candid, critical views of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, from 1948 to the present.  Peled holds Israeli and American passports and is a professional martial artist who lives in San Diego.  His book details his heritage: grandfather was a Zionist leader and signer of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, father was a young officer in the 1948 war and a top general in the 1967 war (who had a second career as a professor and back-channel negotiator with the Palestinians).  Peled served in the Israeli military as required and became an activist after his 13-year-old niece was killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalm.

We open with a chat about the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras and its filmmaker, Emad Burnat from the West Bank Village of Bi’lin.  Peled knows Burnat and his brother Iyad (who was interviewed in our podcast 701, Jan 22, 2013) and talked about Emad’s mistreatment by US Immigration at LAX when he flew in for the Oscars.  Bi’lin is just one of the places that Peled has visited in his support for Palestinian rights.

Then we mention another Oscar-nominated film, The Gatekeepers, which presents 6 former Israeli Shin Bet chiefs.  Peled slams them as hypocrites, and says they should be tried at the International Criminal Court, not feted at the Oscars.

He is equally blunt about the Israeli government, Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel, and his observations when he recently visited Gaza by using a tunnel from Egypt. And he supports a one-state solution with Palestinians as full citizens.

Second, here is the link to the Burnat video interview, which starts about 4 minutes in.

And here is the text from the original podcast post:

Iyad Burnat from the West Bank town of Bi’lin and Anna Rogers of Marin Peace and Justice Coalition talk about nonviolent resistance to Israeli expansion as recounted in the documentary, 5 Broken Cameras. This conversation is based on the documentary film 5 Broken Cameras, which was nominated for an Academy Award a few days after it was recorded.  The documentary was shot by Iyad’s brother, Emad Burnat, over a 7-year period.  It depicts how Israel first installed a fence, which was well beyond the recognized border, and proceeded to displace Palestinians from their land in order to build a massive settlement–which now has 50,000 Israelis.  The residents of Bi’lin launch a campaign of nonviolent protests, which are sometimes infiltrated by Israeli provocateurs, and repeatedly broken up by Israeli forces using live bullets, rubber bullets, tear gas and more.

As Israeli bulldozers uproot their ancient olive trees, the Palestinians try to install their own settlements on the disputed land, only to be driven out.  In our conversation, Iyad details the brutal tactics used on the peaceful Palestinians, the diversion of water to the settlements, leaving the Palestinians with only intermittent access; arbitrary arrests and “administrative detention” of Bi’lin residents, and many more aspects of the tragic story, including the impact on children.

My thanks to Peggy Day and the volunteer crew of the local news program Seriously Now, and to Tom McAfee for suggesting this interview.  Thanks also to the Marin Community Media Center.

The website for the film with a trailer and many details is here. [link expired]

You can watch a 25-minute edit of the video interview here, starting about 4 minutes in.

Annie Robbins at Mondoweiss published this unsolicited comment on this interview:

“In my estimation, this 25 minute interview is unprecedented in American television media by the range and scope of topics raised by Collins as he queries Burnat. Whether inquiring on the lives of Palestinian children growing up in Bil’in, water, roads, checkpoints, weapons made in the US used against demonstrators, apartheid, or Jimmy Carter’s visits, as well as reflecting on tactics in the ghettoization of Jews in various European cities during the Nazi era, Collins leaves few stones unturned. A viewer, previously knowing nothing about the village of Bil’in or life inside the occupation can learn almost as much information from Burnat in this 25 minute riveting interview as his brother’s footage affords in 5 Broken Cameras.

And Burnat’s responses are always measured, direct and revealing. He briefly introduces his village; the population, size, how much land Israel has confiscated, the prominence olive trees have in the lives and livelihood of Palestinians and how in 2004 life radically changed for the village of Bil’in. Then he speaks of 2005 when the villagers built the committee and started the demonstrations every Friday.”