Palestinian Non-Violence Subject Of New Graphic Novel

Dalia Hatuqa reviews the book based on Julia Bacha’s award-winning documentary about the story of Budrus’ nonviolent protest against the wall.

al-monitor A new graphic novel, Budrus, based on a film by the same name, is intended to keep the story alive. It's currently available only in Arabic, but this panel has been translated. Photo by Just Vision.
Dalia Hatuqa

Dalia Hatuqa


Topics covered

peaceful demonstrations, activism, west, palestinian

May 3, 2013

Amid the Western media’s obsessive search for a Palestinian Gandhi, many stories of peaceful, non-violent resistance are often overlooked. One such story is that of Budrus, a small West Bank village — dotted with ancient olive trees and cacti — lying very close to the Green Line (the internationally-recognized border separating Israel from the West Bank). In 2003, Budrus’ residents found out that Israel’s separation wall would swallow chunks of their land. It was then that the villagers decided to employ non-violent tactics to protect their trees and land.

Budrus’ story was captured in an award-winning film directed by Julia Bacha in 2009. The story of the unarmed popular struggle is now being told in the form of a graphic novel (available here in Arabic) through the eyes of 15-year-old Iltizam, the daughter of Ayed Morar, who spearheaded the peaceful demonstrations.

The graphic novel’s creator, Irene Nasser, said the purpose of the book is to keep the story alive and highlight the role that the women of the village played in recapturing some 95% of the land that was intended for confiscation for the wall’s path.

“After seeing the impact the film had locally and internationally, we wanted to highlight some of the issues shown in the movie and bring those to Palestinian children,” said Nasser, the strategic projects coordinator at Just Vision, the book’s publisher. “A key element was the role of women who took to the front lines and changed the nature of the struggle in Budrus.”

Ayed Morar was the brains behind the movement that included weekly peaceful demonstrations. But at the heart of it were Budrus’ women, encouraged by Iltizam’s stamina. In the book, we see Iltizam getting the initial go-ahead from her father to join the village boys in a protest and then sit among a gathering of Budrus’ men to discuss strategy. She then tells her girlfriends at school that she will be part of the demonstrations, which encourages them to follow suit.

The story shows how the Morars manage to unify the different political factions present in the village, get the support of international and Israeli activists, and encourage Budrus’ women to join the movement. In less than a year, their efforts pay off and Israeli authorities decided to re-route the wall.

“I refused to stand with my hands crossed,” writes Iltizam in the graphic novel’s foreword. “The women quickly became an integral part of the village movement, and they … became the heart and soul of the resistance. The high spirit that I saw beaming from every woman in my village gave me great strength.”

In the graphic novel, we see women, young and old, standing with banners in front of machine gun-clutching Israeli soldiers. In one instance, Iltizam finds herself alone in front of a mammoth bulldozer. She stands still, forcing the machine to retreat. It is then that she and the rest of the demonstrators race to replant the trees uprooted by the bulldozer.

The graphic novel was launched on Thursday [May 2] at the Budrus Girls School in a ceremony akin to a Palestinian wedding. There were dances, poetry reading and speeches by local leaders who emphasized the role played by the unified village factions.

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