#CinemaHebron – An Initial Roundup

More to come, but as some of you already know, this past weekend, I was detained in Hebron, along with five other activists from All That’s Left and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence (and 30+ more who were prepared to be detained, but weren’t: More on that below). We went at the invitation of the Youth Against Settlements group to help found the first cinema in Hebron. I am working on putting together my thoughts on the action and its aftermath, but in the meantime, here are 10 excellent pieces already written about it:

  1. Peter Beinart’s reflections on the action in Haaretz


Peter’s piece, published yesterday in Haaretz, included part of the conversation I had with Peter in the site of the future cinema:

”Standing in Abu Aisha’s yard, the American-Israeli activist Moriel Rothman-Zecher explained it this way. The Israeli left, he argued, contains many people alienated by Judaism. They’re alienated because they identify Judaism with Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, which controls subjects like marriage, burial and divorce, and with right-wing hyper-nationalists like Naftali Bennett. By contrast, American Jews, who live in a country where Judaism is not intertwined with the state, lack that hostility. As a result, they are more likely to see their activism as an outgrowth of their Jewish identity rather than as an attempt to overcome it.”

Read the full piece here.

2. Becca Strober’s firsthand account of our detention

Becca is an All That’s Left activist and a gifted writer. She put an immense amount into planning this action, and was one of the six detained last Friday. Her beautiful reflections were published in the Jewish Daily Forward:

“Our direct-action of creating a communal space in the form of a cinema reminded me how privileged I am, and how capable I am (we are) of using our bodies in a different way. Instead of using my body and the privilege that comes with it to uphold a system, I can use it to resist that system. In that, I feel neither pride nor shame, but simply a responsibility to use my body and privilege to help dismantle the systems that oppress Palestinians.”

Read the full piece here. 

3. A. Daniel Roth’s photo essay

A fantastic and crucial series of videos, photos and descriptions of the action and its aftermath, up on his blog All These Days.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.56.01 AM.png

4. Erez Bleicher’s reflections on diaspora and solidarity

Erez is another dedicated activist with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, and was one of the six detained as well. He wrote his reflections as a guest post on Rabbi Brant Rosen’s blog, Shalom Rav:

”If there is one thing I want the Jewish community to know it is that our actions in Hebron were motivated by profound love for our Jewish communities and deep conviction in the common future we are working to build with Palestinians. We want to create a future in which our children no longer have to serve as soldiers in an occupying army. We want to create a future in which Palestinian parents are no longer tormented for buying fireworks on the occasion of their children’s birthdays. We want to create a future in which both of our peoples can thrive in a vibrant society which recognizes our shared humanity.”

Read the full post here.

5. Naomi Zeveloff’s reportage in The Jewish Daily Forward

Naomi’s reporting from the action in Hebron was excellent and thorough:

“Mutasem Hashlamoun, an activist with Youth Against Settlements, explained that the buildings were closed along with many other Palestinian businesses after Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994. Now, his group hoped to open a community cinema for Palestinians to gather in.

Another Palestinian man present said that he was happy to have the help of Jewish Americans: “All the time the settlers want to show problems between the Palestinian and Jewish but it’s not a fact.”

Read the full article here.

6. JTA’s Andrew Tobin report

”An officer at the Kiryat Arba police station referred JTA to the Israel Police for comment. The police did not respond to questions about the reason for the arrests or the targeting of Israeli citizens.

In response to a JTA inquiry, the Israel Defense Forces said: “On Friday, June 15, dozens of people gathered on a property in Tel Romeda. The gathering evolved into a disturbance of the peace, including clashes with IDF forces. In order to prevent escalation into violence, the Military Commander ordered the closure of the area. Accordingly, non residents were required to leave the premises.”

Read the full article here.

7. Karen Isaac’s moving post

Karen is another ATL activist (and dear friend) who was also detained; her reflections on the day are worth reading, in full:

“In days where there has been so much sadness here, and around the world, I wanted to stop for a moment and share this with friends near and far. Because for me it is incredibly important to remember why we do what we do, that we have to respond, that the world and the way people treat each other is so fucked up and the systems we live in are so unjust, that we can’t not respond. Especially if we have the choice.”

8. Rabbi Brant Rosen’s reflections

Also on posted on his blog, Shalom Rav:

“After walking for only ten minutes or so we were stopped by five soldiers who told us we couldn’t continue because the area was (you guessed it) a closed military zone. We refused to leave and said we simply wanted to visit our friends in the police station. Thus began a stand off, during which the lead soldier called his commander four or five times. They clearly had never dealt with a group like ours and were somewhat bewildered that we wouldn’t leave when ordered. Finally Issa arrived and argued loudly with the soldiers. I’m not sure how he managed it but we were finally told we could continue along a detoured route.”

Read full post here.

9. Dahlia Scheindlin’s piece in +972 Magazine

“The self-sustaining cheer of the songs and the aura of justice in the participants’ eyes recalls an odd parallel of ideological fact-making from another era: the legendary Passover seder held at the Park Hotel in Hebron in 1968, just after the West Bank was captured. After the seder was over, the national religious Jews who had organized it refused to leave. It became a spiritual touchstone moment for the birth of the sprawling settlement enterprise. Perhaps this action is a bookend to 1968, the beginning of popular Jewish and Palestinian resistance to unchecked takeover of the land. But it is unlikely that creating “facts on the ground” can work for the Left as it has for the settlers.”

Read full article here.

10. Reuters’ Editor’s Choice of Picture from Friday, July 15th

Was of Youth Against Settlements Coordinator Issa Amro being detained during the action:



And of course there were the critics, such as Front Page Magazine’s Caroline Glick.


More soon.


Update, July 31st: There was also a write up about the action in the Canadian Jewish News, on July 21st, 2016.