Amplifying Budrus: Strengthening a growing nonviolent movement to protect Palestinian land rights and communities

Amplifying Budrus: Strengthening a growing nonviolent movement to protect Palestinian land rights and communities

Palestinian Territory
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Land rights are central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but are seldom addressed. We are using a tested, strategic outreach model surrounding Budrus, an award-winning film, which showcases a successful example of nonviolent community organizing that protects Palestinian properties and rights. This project will touch millions and inspire thousands to join this growing movement.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

As we wait for the chronically disappointing diplomatic peace process to progress, Palestinian property owners, many of whom have registered titles dating back to the Ottoman Empire, are losing their lands; communities are watching as their beloved, ancient olive trees are torn from the earth and the fabric of entire villages is eroding. Nonviolent grassroots efforts to save these villages and agricultural lands are critical – both for the property owners themselves and for future relations between Israeli and Palestinian neighbors. Budrus provides an opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to explore and support a growing, successful nonviolent movement to save Palestinian lands that is already inspiring similar Palestinian “popular resistance” efforts in places like Al-Walaja, Bil’in, Nabi Saleh, Gaza, Na’ilin and Silwan. The film also is informing local and international thought leaders, journalists, clergy and policymakers about their efforts, which had previously been ignored by broadcast and print media.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Despite the glut of news about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the central issue of land rights remains invisible. For years, Palestinian civilians with legal title to their lands have struggled nonviolently together with Israeli and international activists in isolation in defense of their properties, their economic livelihoods and dignity. These courageous individuals wanted their stories told so that local and international audiences would know about and support them. Our recent film, Budrus, has inspired people around the world. However its impact is most profound in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel where audiences are emboldened to get involved. Before the film’s release, journalists hadn’t reported on how the people of the West Bank village of Budrus, together with their Israeli and international allies, launched a nonviolent movement to protect their lands. Other Palestinian communities facing the loss of lands due to settlement construction or Israel’s Separation Barrier didn’t know how Budrus had stopped bulldozers without arms and preserved their olive groves and homes. Today, thanks to the film, communities across the region are learning about and even adopting similar methods. By showcasing the only story of a Palestinian community that has successfully saved its lands through nonviolence, the project will have significant impact. We are organizing screenings in diverse Palestinian and Israeli communities, pursuing regional TV broadcasts and most importantly our East Jerusalem-based staff is convening facilitated workshops where Palestinian farmers and land owners and their Israeli allies watch the film, discuss it and strategize together. We will also work with facilitators to engage youth, women’s groups, journalists, students, professors, union leaders and others so they can learn from this inspiring model and support similar efforts taking place today.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

By disseminating Budrus, Palestinian communities, nonviolent land rights defenders and Israeli allies will connect with one another, with audiences in their respective societies, international publics and with press. This highly efficient medium allows us to reach important thought leaders, policy makers and civilians impacted by land seizures. Budrus received coverage in diverse outlets including The New York Times, which called it “this year’s must-see documentary,” the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Economist, CNN, Israel’s Channel 2 and others. This coverage increases the visibility of the rights defenders and drives support to these proponents of peaceful activism. It also thrusts the question of property rights into the public eye. When we screen the film to Israelis and Palestinians, communities often shift from a place of despair, chaotic organizing and disempowerment to one of focus, strategic discussion and action. Recently, we organized a screening in Al-Walaja, where the residents’ homes and agricultural lands will be destroyed if the Separation Barrier is built as planned. Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians attended. A Budrus leader encouraged a disciplined, nonviolent path and an Israeli activist asked his fellow citizens to support Al-Walaja just as Israelis had done in Budrus. Audience members affirmed their commitment to work together. Days later, Newsweek published an article about the screening and the growth of the villagers’ unarmed struggle.(See http://www.justvision.org/en/page/selectcoverage.)
About You
Organization:
Just Vision
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Irene

Last Name

Nasser

Country
Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Just Vision

Organization Phone

+972 2 5827363 or +1-202 232 6821

Organization Address

HQ located at: 1616 P St NW, Ste 340 Washington, DC 20036 USA (Note: we have an office in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem)

Organization Country

, DC, Washington

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Actions

Between 2010-2011, we will organize 40-45 strategic screenings or workshops in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These include events held and sponsored by communities, villages, refugee camps, Popular Committees, NGOs, the Palestinian Police Academy, women's groups and at cinematheques. We will invite trained facilitators and experts in the fields of nonviolence, community organizing and human rights. We will pair them with local land rights defenders to convene discussions and to build bridges of trust across diverse constituencies. Additionally, we will organize at least 25 events at educational institutions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or Israel.

We will seek coverage from print and broadcast journalists and will emphasize themes addressed in the film: unity across divides, and the strategic role of women in community mobilization. Our East Jerusalem staff has already brought this story to Gaza and villages in the West Bank. Support would enable our outreach to meet growing demand.

Results

Our press outreach will result in 15+ media pieces that engage Israeli and Palestinian audiences, including articles, op-eds and interviews about Budrus, the filmmakers, protagonists and other Palestinian land rights advocates.

We’ll reach several thousand students, community leaders, educators and activists directly and several million indirectly through TV broadcast and media exposure.

We will measure: a) the increase in news coverage of nonviolent efforts to save Palestinian lands as a result of our work; b) the strategic connections we make among these men and women and between them and influential individuals/networks; and c) relationships forged between communities facing loss of their properties and nonviolence organizers across Muslim, Jewish, Arab and Christian publics. We will work closely with our partners to assess whether the film has led to increased interest in/support for their work.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

If so, how?

We seek to have an indirect impact on policy. Our aim is for communities to protect and preserve their homes, lands and livelihoods since their success impacts the broader prospects for peace in the Middle East.

The unarmed struggle in Budrus had an impact on the Israeli government, prompting it to reroute the Separation Barrier and thereby saving thousands of olive trees and dunams of lands.

By sharing this model of success with other Palestinian communities and Israeli allies, we hope they are able to build upon the lessons of Budrus in order to promote the themes of the film: nonviolence, unity across divides, the strategic role of women -- all in service of protecting lands and communities.

We seek to inform policymakers in the international arena about the existence of such a movement. Up until the film's release, many think tanks, influential figures and policymakers spoke about Palestinian unarmed efforts in the abstract. Even President Obama's Cairo speech in 2009 implored Palestinians to adopt nonviolence and cited numerous external examples but failed to name any local, credible contemporary models that Palestinians can relate to. Thus the story of Budrus, coupled with our strategic outreach, will provide policymakers and opinion shapers with information about credible, successful paradigms previously invisible to the international community.

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.

Partnerships are key to our strategy. Just Vision has spent years building relations of trust with Palestinian and Israeli organizations and audiences. We’ve worked with dozens of women's, youth, university, human rights, conflict resolution, peace building, community groups throughout Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We have engaged thousands of youth in classrooms and after school programs; we've engaged education ministers, think tanks and activists from every geographic region and religious denomination.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Just Vision has a solid, loyal base of donors composed largely of foundations and individuals who are passionate about film, multi-media, peace building and/or the Middle East. Last year, for the first time, Just Vision received funding from a government source, USAID, for the production of short films, a website relaunch and related community engagement in the Middle East. However, no funding from USAID can be used for the outreach of Budrus.

Our fundraising plans include an array of strategies. We continue to target a range of foundations and individuals who are capable of making larger, multi-year grants that will allow us to maintain our existing programs, as well as to set long-term strategies and goals that are achievable and that will make a difference. In addition, Just Vision generates revenue through screening fees, honoraria, broadcast licenses and DVD sales.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a geopolitical epicenter with far-reaching consequences. Obstacles to reconciliation abound, from increasing religious extremism, militarism and militancy, to growing unemployment in the Arab world, to the Israeli government’s failure
to curb land seizures and settlement expansion. Cynicism and distrust are mounting despite a new round of diplomatic talks. Yet hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians are stepping forward to end the bloodshed, preserve human and land rights and promote reconciliation. Their stories seldom make the headlines, drowned out by sensational news coverage.

Just Vision creates award-winning media to generate awareness of, and support for, Palestinians and Israelis working for unarmed solutions to the conflict. Our timely new documentary, Budrus, follows a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites all Palestinian political factions and Israelis in a Gandhian struggle to save his village and its lands from destruction by Israel's Separation Barrier. When his teenage daughter, Iltezam, organizes a women’s contingent, they move to the frontlines and unleash a nonviolent movement that is still gaining ground today.

Prior to the film’s release, little had been written or broadcast about recent successful Palestinian nonviolence efforts. Articles and TV segments that addressed the issue either did so in the abstract, or by citing unsuccessful examples that often descended into stonethrowing chaos and excluded women entirely. Budrus offers concrete proof that change is possible through nonviolence initiated and maintained through bottom up efforts in civil society.

The film and associated outreach campaign came to fruition after we toured the world with our last film, Encounter Point. Audiences in the West would ask us “where is the Palestinian Gandhi,” while Palestinians would often assert that they had “tried nonviolence and it failed to yield results.” Given the disconnect in perception between these audiences, and the inspiring actions on the part of the village of Budrus that were invisible to the public, we opted to launch this film and outreach initiative.

Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.

Just Vision is led by an Israeli, Palestinian, North and South American team with expertise in human rights advocacy, filmmaking, journalism and nonviolence. We have deep ties to the region and the issues featured in Budrus; all the senior and programmatic staff members are either Israeli or Palestinian or both except Media Director Julia Bacha, who is Brazilian. Since our founding we have maintained an office in Sheikh Jarrah (East Jerusalem). We work with an array of professionals with backgrounds in PR, conflict resolution and facilitation. Prior to founding Just Vision, Executive Director Ronit Avni worked for Peter Gabriel’s human rights organization, WITNESS, training human rights advocates to document rights abuses – including land rights with groups in Brazil and indigenous communities in the Philippines – using digital technology and film. Media Director Julia Bacha wrote and edited the film, Control Room, and Irene Nasser’s history was described in the profile section.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Email from Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information.

We were a finalist for the Entrepreneuring Peace competition years ago and have been keeping an eye out for competitions since.

Additional
Which (if any) of the following strategies apply to your organization or company (check as many as apply)

Other.

Please explain how your work furthers one or many of the above strategies (if you selected “other”, please explain your strategy)

We document stories not heard in the nightly news, of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the conflict nonviolently. For the Ampliflying Budrus Project we are engaging audiences and the press to raise awareness about the only successful Palestinian-led movement that protected land rights in the context of the conflict and that brought together men and women, Israelis and Palestinians.

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