In 2002, I attended a film festival and watched the screening of the film A Wedding in Ramallah. It tells the story of a Palestinian American, Bassam who worked as a telephone man in Cleveland. He came back to Ramallah for a bride and the simple film tells the story on how his bride was excited at the prospect of getting out of the shelling and violence and living in fear in Ramallah, the preparations for their wedding and the wedding day itself.
Ramallah is located 10 km north of Jerusalem and currently serves as the unofficial capital of Palestian National Authority. The film was almost a homemade one ( with semi-professional editing which at times caused viewers a little headache ),— as INDIE as one can get with films. What I remember vividly about was when the camera focused around the streets of Ramallah. There were barefooted children walking along the streets, with Israeli soldiers shooing them off the places they were not supposed to be at. There was even a scene where the children picked up stones and when the soldiers turned their backs, they quickly threw stones at the soldiers and ran away. And of course, the soldiers in return gave a generous serving of expletives while scaring the children off with their rifles.
Many of the houses there were either half destroyed or destroyed totally. But well, Bassam’s wedding still went on merrily with whatever little they had as it was a joyous occasion for the bride. She would be leaving Ramallah for good as Bassam would be taking her to America where he worked. It was a great thanksgiving party for the bride who would have a better chance at being alive.
Ramallah City Centre taken from here.
Both my friend and I while watching the film, wondered how would it be to live in that condition and having that kind of wedding– the most important day of your life and soldiers are right outside your doorstep with rifles. But we concluded, that is afterall Palestine and war is just another day for them.
Since the recent and ongoing Gaza attacks which started on 1st Muharram, I got reminded of Bassam and his bride. The film was based on a true story and since Bassam is a real person, I somehow began to wonder if they are back in Palestine or are still in Cleveland worried sick about their family members.
Yesterday I got an email from my former lecturer in Australia, Dr Khan. Dr Khan is also the head of Muslim affairs in the little town we were in. The Muslim Society there, together with the rest of the Muslims in the state are collecting donations for the Gaza victims. Although I would very much like to help the likes of Bassam’s family members who are mostly likely be suffering there, I am a bit apprehensive with the donation drive for Gaza. This is mainly due to what I saw with my own eyes— the disgusting extravagance in some other middle easten states especially Dubai. Why can’t they pump in the money to help the Palestinians under attack instead of continuing with their indulging lavish lifestyles? The Muslims in Australia have enough financial problems of their own and I feel that their money is better used at helping their own community.
The Arab League was reported to have canceled all the New Year’s Eve party, ‘in respect of those victims of the Gaza attacks’. Is that the best they can do?
There are many things I fail to understand in this world and this is one of them. I just hope Bassam and his family are ok though, for if I were to make any donations, I would send it to Indonesia or Cambodia. Not Gaza. Gaza can prick on the conscience of the shisha smoking sheikhs and their LV laden wives.