Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

43. Something we can do

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Don’t know about you, but most of the time I feel pretty helpless in the face of the government and corporate elites that sustain Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  I’m also frustrated by the ease with which they manage to control the news, at least in the mainstream media that many people rely on to interpret the world.

This is why I write.  My current book and this blog attempt to share other experience and insights from the ground, views that are systematically excluded from the official version.

I know it’s not enough.  So I’m grateful when a compelling initiative arises that I can support.  Roadmap to Apartheid is such an initiative.

It’s a full-length video documentary, created by a white South African woman and a Jewish Israeli man, and narrated by African-American writer Alice Walker.  In meticulous, often shocking detail, Roadmap to Apartheid compares the apartheid systems of South Africa and Israel.  While the former eventually collapsed under international pressure, the Israeli version continues to expand by the day.

The Israeli regime and its backers go to great lengths to deny and even suppress any comparison with South African apartheid.  In Canada, for example, if the current federal regime has its way, it could become a crime to write or speak in public the phrase “Israeli apartheid.”  They are that afraid of debate.

Few people are better equipped to appreciate the stark parallels than South Africans who resisted apartheid in their own country, and who have also witnessed it in Palestine.  For example, Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

“I have witnessed firsthand the racially segregated roads and housing in the Occupied Palestinian territories.  I have seen the humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children at the checkpoints and roadblocks.  I have met Palestinians who were evicted and replaced by Jewish Israeli settlers; Palestinians whose homes were destroyed even as new, Jewish-only homes were illegally built on confiscated Palestinian land.

“This oppression, these indignities and the resulting anger are only too familiar.  It is no wonder that so many South African leaders in the anti-apartheid struggle, including Nelson Mandela and numerous Jewish leaders, have found ourselves compelled to speak out on this issue.”

Such are the parallels that Roadmap to Apartheid explores. I have no doubt it will make a unique, powerful contribution to the struggle for justice and peace in Israel-Palestine.

A 10-minute excerpt from the video won first place in a video contest online.  Watch it here.

After four years’ work by the film-makers and “dozens of co-workers,” the full-length video is complete.  But they lack funds for the final stages of its production and release.

To cover these costs they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign, to send Roadmap to Apartheid out into the world.

In terms of media production costs, they ask remarkably little to accomplish a lot: $40,000.  As they put it, “The money raised will:

• Pay for all the intense archival footage in the documentary that really helps to showcase the story.  We cannot release the film until this bill gets covered.

• Compensate the talented sound, color, design and motion graphics crew for the many days they will invest in this film for the next couple of months.

• Print DVDs.

• Organize screening and speaking tours in the U.S. and elsewhere.  (If you are interested in hosting a screening in your hometown, please get in touch with us at our website.)”

In case you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it works like this:  The project will only be funded if at least $25,000 is pledged by Wednesday September 7, 7:00pm Eastern Daylight Time.

So far (to the time I wrote this), 155 people have pledged $11,796.

Here is something we can do.  And by the way, a pledge of $30 or more gets you a free copy of the DVD.

I find this appeal irresistible. Hope you do too.

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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