One stark lesson from the collapse of the Oslo process ten years ago is that no top-down approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking will succeed without widespread support from the grassroots. Yet as talks predictably falter once again, the very civic leaders who are willing to risk their lives to promote a dignified, free, secure and rights-respecting future for both peoples are being jailed, harassed and silenced. In recent months, Palestinian nonviolence leaders in particular are facing a severe crackdown, just as their unarmed movements to end the occupation in cooperation with Israeli and international allies are picking up steam.
As our new film, Budrus, opens in theaters this week across the U.S., the U.K., Israel and in venues in Gaza and the West Bank, we are unable to obtain a permit from the Israeli government for our protagonist, Ayed Morrar, to enter Jerusalem. Without a permit, Ayed cannot speak to audiences in Israel, Gaza or the United States about the subject of the film: his steadfast commitment to, and historic success in utilizing, nonviolence to combat the occupation and thus advance peace.
Ayed achieved what policymakers and policy wonks believe to be impossible: He united Hamas, Fatah and Israeli allies in a 10-month, unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier; he brought women to the front lines;