5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi 2011

with assistance of the Greenhouse Project of the EU.

Emad Burnat first met Guy Davidi who came to Bil’in as a human rights activist and film maker. He said he didn’t chose him because of political reasons or because

Davidi was an Israeli and he was Palestinian. He chose him because he was a friend and he trusted him to retell his story in a way that would highlight events for an

international audience When Davidi saw Burnat keep on filming when his brother was arrested and his friend was killed, he knew the power of this story needed to be

told to a wider audience. He was looking for a way to tell the story of the Occupation in a non-violent personal way that everyone would feel emotionally. He did it.

Friends:       Guy Davidi, Israeli                 Emad Burnat, Palestinian

A Palestinian farmer turned filmmaker, Emad Burnat witnesses the resistance of the people of Bil’in to the division of their village by the Wall and the confiscation

of their land by the Israeli settlements. Born in 1971, Emad Burnat got a camera when his 4th son was born and got serious about filming events, He knew the camera was

a strong witness and a strong weapon. He used film to hold his memories painful and joyous and to heal his psychic wounds from living under occupation. Each camera was

an episode of his life.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/feb/20/oscars-palestinian-filmmaker-lax-detained & interviews in the extras of the film

On arrival at the Los Angeles airport in February, 2013 to attend the Academmy Awards night, Emad Burnat and his wife and son Gibreel were detained by security who did

not believe he was an Academy Award nominated director for an Oscar and threatened to deport him the same day. He was put in an isolation room and told not to use his

phone. Luckily he managed to get out a text to Michael Moore who was able to get action from an Academy Awards lawyer and about an hour later, the family were on their

way. Burnat’s response to this welcome to the USA was: “Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day,

throughout the West Bank. There are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers to movement across our land, and not a single one of us has been

spared the experience that my family and I experienced yesterday.” http://www.filmlinc.com/blog/entry/interview-with-emad-burnat-5-brokencameras

The Checkpoints

Soraya Burnat came from a Palestinian family in Brazil to live in Bil’in and marry Emad. Although critical during the film of the danger to which the family and Emad

are exposed by his film making, she comes to understand that the making of the film was a courageous and political act: “When this movie is shown (after) the Oscars,

millions of people will know the story,” she added. “They will know about the Palestinian cause. Many people abroad don’t even know what Palestine is.”


Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma nicknamed al-Phil- the Elephant and called Phil in the film. Phil was always optimistic and coming up with a new and inventive ways to

confront the Occupation that gave hope to the kids. Making a Palestinian trailer in an “Outpost”, flying a kite killed April 17, 2009

Adeeb Abu-Rahma, his brother and taxi driver was the most energetic of demonstrators. Finally dragged off and arrested after his brother’s death.

Ashraf Abu-Rahma, another brother nicknamed Daba, arrested and while standing next to the armored car to carry him to prison is shot in the leg.

Jawaher Abu Rahma died after tear gas inhalation. She died December 31, 2010 aged 36.

The children of Soraya and Emad Burnat:

Muhamad Burnat b. 1995 when there was still hope of the Oslo Accords getting to Palestinian statehood. He does some of the filming, especially of his father. Things

were more relaxed then when he was born and the family went to the ocean every summer.

Yasin b. 1998 during the time of uncertainty, and fear that the Oslo Accords would accomplish nothing.

Taki- Ydin b. 2000 the day the 2nd Intifada began. The hospital was full of dead and wounded. The West Bank was reoccupied in a very harsh way of collective


Gibreel b. 2005 when the settlements were encroaching and the surveyors arrived to clear the land for the Wall, and the first olive trees were being uprooted. The

villagers of Bil’in organized for protests. Some of Gibreel’s first words are “wall”. “cartridge” and “army”.

Emad’s brothers: Riyad is hit and wounded as the demonstration turns rowdy when Israelis dressed as Palestinians foment trouble as an excuse to arrest demonstrators-

an old Israeli technique described in The Secret Life of Sa’eed The Pessoptimist by Emile Habbibi back in 1974. Riyad is arrested first, then Jafar. When Khaled is

arrested, both the mother, Intisar Burnat and father, Muhammad Burnat try to prevent his being driven away. Finally Emad himself is arrested and then placed under

house arrest. He is accused of throwing stones at Israelis ( how can you hold a camera and throw stones?) and is released a month later as the court says the records

of evidence against him “have been lost”.

Music by Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran: Le Trio Joubran, Palestinian masters of ‘oud and violin performance and manufacture. From Nazareth.

Since the film the Israeli government has tried to shut down the weekly demonstrations. On May 7, 2012 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that undercover special

agents of the “Masada” unit were employed to throw stones at the IDF so as to allow the arrest of “quality target” MK Mohammed Barakeh who had been trying to stop an

assault on peace activist Uri Avnery. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/undercover-israeli-combatants-threw-stones-at-idf-soldiers-in-west-bank-1.428584

This came out in the trial when IDF undercover soldiers testified to throwing stones against other IDF soldiers during demonstrations in Bil’in.

By declaring the village of Bil’in a closed military zone, the Israeli government was forbidding both Israeli citizens and internationals from entering the region.


Apparently this hasn’t worked the way the Israeli authorities would have liked. In October 2013 the 8th International Conference of Bil’in Popular Resistance was held

with many Palestinian politicians present, as well as European Union representative in Palestine, John Gatt Rutter, numerous European ambassadors and consuls, dozens

of international supporters, and a number of activists of popular resistance from Bil’in and other villages in the West Bank.”


But it hasn’t been a complete success for the demonstrators either: In the village of Bil’in the brave families who waged the demonstrations each Friday from 2005-2010

were only able to wrest 1/3 of the 500 acres back from the Israelis. 170 acres were returned when the Wall was moved a small distance, but 330 remained confiscated.

Some were used for a settlement. Two people were killed and many were arrested, including fairly young boys seized from families in the night and the film maker Emad

Burnat and all of his brothers were arrested at different times. Many olive trees were dug up or burned. Others were beyond the wall, destroyed and built on by the

Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Illit

See http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david/memo-new-york-times-spirit-gandhi-alive-palestine

On the use of non-violent resistance in Bil’in still continuing in 2012

The film can be seen on YouTube at

1. What are the Palestinians doing when Emad’s brother Riyad is shot in the leg?

2. Who do they realize had provoked a fight so that the Israelis could justify the arrests and removal of the demonstrators?

3. Who comes to help with the demonstrations against the wall and the continued Israeli expansion into Palestinian lands?

4. From where do the people come who demonstrate on Fridays with the Bil’in people and lock themselves to the Wall? And carry flags of which countries?

5. What is the nationality of the man who gives him his second camera? In which language do they speak together?

6. Why do the chickens roost in the tree? They belong to Adeeb Abu Rahma they are Palestinian and they have ______________ (unlike the owner)/ It’s humor!

7. In an effort to obstruct the building of the Wall which is confiscating most of the farm land of the Palestinians for the expansion of the settlement of   Modi’in

Illit, the citizens of Bil’in do what? Is this resistance violent or non-violent?

With trailers?

With cement blocks? Why with cement blocks?

8. When the settlers see that the Palestinians have rebuilt the Palestinian “outpost” what do they do to their olive trees? How do the Palestinians respond? (Note that

this is NOT the IDF- the Israeli army doing this to the Palestinians, but the expansionist settlers).

9. What happens at the next demonstration to Yisrael? To Eyad? ( Emad’s brother).

10. How does camera #2 get destroyed in Spring 2007 at Modi’in Illit? What happens to Daba (Phil and Adeeb’s brother)?

11. When Gibreel is 3, his father says he is old enough to go to a demonstration and get tear gassed and see an uncle __________ arrested.

12. What does Emad do when another brother _________ is arrested and his parents try to prevent the IDF from taking him away? He ____________________________________.

13. This brother is later shot in the arm. Palestinians call the Israeli soldiers their ____________ and _______________.

14. For his filming, Emad Burnat is arrested on charges of throwing stones at soldiers ( can you see a filming camera man having enough hands to also throw stones?).

After 1 month of house arrest his case is dismissed from court because the evidence against him has been “______________”.

15. But that isn’t the end. Snipers try to kill him at the next demonstration . What saves his life? _________________#3 in winter 2008.

16. What do the family do to try to keep up their spirits and sanity?

17. Emad decides to show the films to the villagers and visitors from other villages use the example of _______________ and follow it.

In Nil’in the IDF is particularly vicious: What happens there ?

To Daba Abu Rahma? ________ to an 11 year old boy?     _________

To a 17 year old boy_____________

18. After so many years of demonstrating, what happens at last to give the people of Bil’in reason to throw a party and dance the debke to celebrate. (Debke is a

wedding dance usually performed by men https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K7PKf5WfyI )

19. When his truck for harvesting olives ran into the Israeli fence, to what does Emad Burnat attribute his survival? (only 10-25 % of people survive an abdominal

aortic aneurysm)

20. Who turns up at the Bil’in demonstrations to take advantage of the energy created there?

I don’t recognize those with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem ( with the turban, maybe leaders for Hamas?) but I do recognize Dr. Mustapha Barghouti who founded the

Palestinian National Initiative movement and ran for President winning 19.8% of the vote, “In a 2012 interview, Barghouti emphasized that the PNI is committed to

nonviolence, which “works better because it allows everybody, and not just a small group of people, to participate. It works better because it does not allow the

Israelis to claim that they are victims in this conflict. It reveals and exposes them as they are in reality: the oppressors, the occupiers, and the creators of an

apartheid system.”

21. When Gibreel is 4 he is to understand the frailty of life- he can watch a sheep being sacrificed for his birthday party feast. At the next demonstration, after

shouthing to the soldiers that they have shot an Israeli girl who is killed? ­­­­­­­­­_________________. His brother Daba begs the soldiers to kill him too. The other

brother _________is arrested.

22. At the demonstration to tear down the wall Gibreel is 5 what happens to camera #5?

23. The Israelis actually remove the section of the outlawed wall . What is constructed further away? How does Gibreel resist it?

24. How does the film end on an optimistic note? What happened to camera #6?

You may like to watch this interview with Israeli high school student who have just had a private showing of 5 Broken Cameras, something not allowed in their schools.

It’s only 8 minutes 45 secs.

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