Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine": a play about the American civil rights leader is produced by Palestinians touring the West Bank


Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine” (directed by Connie Field) depicts a Palestinian production of a play “Passages of Martin Luther King” by Clayborn Carson, who travels with an American gospel choir and troupe throughout the West Bank in 2011.  
  
The group visits a number of cities, including Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Ramallah, and Nablus. The group often sees the obvious injustice to individual Palestinian families, as Israelis apparently seize their property, often without compensation, for settlements.  One many is forced to tear down his own home.  Another is separated from his farmland by the Wall.  During the tour, a particular Israeli involved in the production is assassinated.
  
The film is in three parts, and has occasional scenes from the play in front of audiences, as well as rehearsals, including gospel singing (sometimes in the spirit of "Say Amen, Somebody" [1982]). .
   
Is there a parallel between Civil Rights in the United States and the Israeli-Palestinain conflict?  If so, it is not very direct.

On the property issue, I've still seen televised interviews with Israeli families in West Bank settlements, where fathers tell their sons that this ancestral land is theirs as a "chosen people".  The film makes the point that Christianity defuses the idea of a "chosen people" since salvation is for all people/ 
    
I saw the film at the Geothe-Institut in Washington DC as part of Filmfest-DC Tuesday night. Field did a QA after the showing.
  
On my International Blog (Dec. 23, 2012 and May 20, 2013) I’ve described the work of George Meek on this problem. Meek has presented his work in a special program at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA and later at the Arlington County Library.   The appropriate organization is the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine.
  

The official website (Clarity Films) is here and a DVD is available.  Some film festivals have been unwilling to show if because of the politically explosive message for the Middle East.     

Martin Luther King once said, “If you don’t have anything worth dying for, find something.” 

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