Welcome to My Neighbourhood
Julia Bacha’s film tells the woefully under-reported stories of how ordinary Israelis and Palestinians engage in nonviolent grassroots advocacy toward a more equitable future. After I saw her documentary Budrus at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, I made an effort to clear my schedule to catch her short film My Neighbourhood, co-directed by Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, when it screened at Tribeca this past spring. (The next screenings will be at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, July 25th and August 1st.)
Through the eyes of Mohammed El Kurd, a Palestinian boy growing up in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the heart of East Jerusalem, we sense his anger and confusion when at the age of 11, his family is forced to share their home with Israeli settlers as part of a campaign of court-sanctioned evictions to ensure Jewish control of this area. As he comes of age, he joins in the peaceful protest against the evictions, where he finds himself unexpectedly side-by-side with Israeli supporters.
While the film doesn’t come to a Hollywood ending—this is life, not Los Angeles—real-life justice often doesn’t roll on like a river as per the prophet Amos. But I left the theater feeling a bit more hopeful that some good news does trickle down.
Becky Garrison is a satirist/storyteller whose most recent book is Roger Williams’s Little Book of Virtues (Wipf & Stock, March 2020). Also, she edited Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge and Resilience (Transgress Press, 2015). Her six books include 2006’s Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church (PW, starred review).