The war in Gaza has led to the first Palestine Cinema Days event in Vancouver’s history. On Thursday (November 2), MENA [Middle East North Africa] Film Festival, Suimanga Films, and Vivo Media Arts Centre, are hosting a free screening of Carol Mansour’s Stitching Palestine. It will take place at VIVO Media Arts at 8 p.m.
Mansour’s 2017 film focuses on 12 articulate, diasporic Palestinian women whose stories are linked through tatreez (traditional Palestinian embroidery). Among the speakers are Palestine National Council member Leila Khaled, INAASH Association founding members Malak Husseini Abdelrahim and Sima Tuqan Ghandour, writer and actor Raeda Taha, and psychotherapist Laila Atshan.
According to the MENA Film Festival, the Vancouver screening is in “response to the cancellation of the annual Palestine Cinema Days in Ramallah”. The Vancouver event falls on what the festival describes as the “somber” anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration. That’s when the British government declared its support for a national home for Jewish people in Palestine.
This, in turn, set a series of events in motion leading to the creation of Israel in 1948. The ensuing war caused more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs to either flee or be expelled from their homes.
“While we suffer from the genocide in Gaza, the international media distorts the Palestinian narrative, and systematically officials try to dehumanize our people, and erase their suffering,” Filmlab Palestine stated on October 20. “We will carry our story and voices beyond the borders.”
Stitching Palestine event part of global initiative
The full name of the event at the Vivo Media Arts Centre is “From the River to the Sea: Palestine Cinema Days”. The organizers say it’s part of “a global collective initiative established by a group of displaced media artists and activists in solidarity with Palestine”.
Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee has described the term “From the River to the Sea” as “anti-semitic”. According to the AJC, that’s because this phrase “calls for the establishment of a State of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, erasing the State of Israel and its people”.
“It is also a rallying cry for terrorist groups and their sympathizers, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to Hamas, which called for Israel’s destruction in its original governing charter in 1988 and was responsible for the October 7, 2023 terror attack on Israeli civilians, murdering over 1,000 people in the single deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust,” the AJC stated on its website.
Palestinian-American writer Yousef Munayyer, on the other hand, has maintained that the phrase is simply expressing a desire to “live in their homeland as free and equal citizens, neither dominated by others nor dominating them”.
Moreover, Munayyer accused those of linking the phrase to the destruction of Israel “did so due to their own Islamophobia”.
Meanwhile, a lecturer in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Nimer Sultay, told Al Jazeera: “Those who support apartheid and Jewish supremacy will find the egalitarian chant objectionable [because for them] a call for egalitarianism and for the dismantlement of the system of apartheid becomes an existential threat.”
Sultay is a Palestinian citizen of Israel.
For its part, Gaza’s Ministry of Health has asserted that 7,028 people have been killed as a result of Israeli bombardments since October 7.