Joe Public Films founder and producer Tom Jackson is currently in Gaza, teaching a class in basic video production to a Gazan youth group from American Friends Service Committee’s office in Gaza City. He is also attempting to get a clear picture of life in Gaza under siege and occupation. This is the first blog installment from his visit.
If you came to humanitarian crisis this year.
Outside Gaza City, where I have now been a few times, one can see very easily and clearly what the problem is. Two days ago I visited families still living in tents because their homes were destroyed almost a year ago. One family, with several small children, was finding it very hard to feed their youngest child of only a few months. They told me she is under-weight– a fact that was quite visible to me. They could not get enough milk to feed her. When I hear stories like this as I am video taping, knowing that in just a few weeks I can go back to the comfort and relative ease of my life far away, it fills me with a very dark feeling. What on Earth can I say? Certain things come to mind– “I’ll do everything that I can”– but, somehow it just isn’t enough. They don’t want or need words. We wound up telling them that we would contact ANERA, which is an organization that helps refugees with various issues, and if they can’t help we will ask them who can. We’re following up today.
In refugee camps around the there are many stories like this. Homes destroyed, and no ability to rebuild because the siege keeps rebuilding materials out of the country. Bad water because in some places water treatment plants were damaged or destroyed. The potential for a huge humaintarian catastrophe here is great, if the siege is not lifted soon. H1N1 in a place like this is truly something to be afraid of– Gaza is one of the in the world, conditions are bad and not getting better, and the population is very young, so a large % of the population is in the vulnerable age range. Apparently there are vaccines in Gaza now, but by all accounts that I’ve heard so far, not enough. It is unclear to me why there is not enough. I’ll continue to look into it and write about this again.
There are so many issues that I plan to interview people about while I’m here, including the water issue, the challenges faced by farmers (water issues again, and now fertilizer and equipment shortages due to the siege), fishermen (Israel is limiting their range off the coast that is accessible to them), issues mentioned before like unemployment and inability to rebuild.
Meanwhile there is talk of the Gaza Freedom March. Gazans I’ve talked to differ widely in their beliefs on whether the marchers will be allowed in. Most are doubtful, because Egypt, they believe, is unlikely to be cooperative (more on that later). Whatever the case, there are two internal marches planned, from inside Gaza to the two borders — on the Egyptian border, and Erez on the Israeli border. There are probably even fewer Gazans who believe these marches will be allowed to cross the border to leave Gaza. Still, the point will be made.
Wherever people are able to hold a vigil or a rally on any of the last days of December or on January 1st, in order to express support for lifting the siege on Gaza, your efforts will be greatly appreciated here. There is a gathering planned in Central Maine, and peace and justice activists here have been glad to hear about it.
My apologies for taking awhile to get some description of life in Gaza out. It takes some time to take the pulse, but I am starting to get a better sense of thinsg here, including politically, which I’ll write more about soon. but only visited Gaza City, you might wonder what the concern is over. Downtown Gaza city is a buzzing area with universities, cabs flying everywhere (and I mean everywhere, including in the wrong lanes), and people going about their business. While unemployment in all of Gaza is well over 50%, it seems that Gaza City has been at least somewhat spared, both in the bombing last year, and in the economic and
JPF received word from the organizer of the film fest in Paraguay re. the August 14th screening of Out of Balance. The organizer, Hugo Gamarra Etcheverry, refers to “Marisela” at TeleSur Internacional who saved the day by providing a DVD with Spanish captions.
“I want you to know that the DVD arrived to our hands 2 hours before the show ! Thanks so much again Marisela.
The film was shown for a crowd of 120 persons, who applauded spontaneously at the end and during the conversation session afterwards, there were mostly expressions of concern for what the film tells and appreciation for the way it is told. So, Tom, I am very happy for my selection. There is another screening on the 24th.”
The festival’s website is www.pla.net.py/cinefest/festidoc
Here’s a link to an article appearing this week in the Village Soup and the Bar Harbor Times about JPF producer Tom Jackson.
Please check out the “winter preview” of the in-production documentary from Joe Public Films, and please forward the link!
This is the autumn trailer/fundraising video for our current documentary, which is in production. “No Country for Cold Men” is about the home heating oil crisis in Maine. Last year there were reports of people having to choose between food, meds, gas for the car, or home heating oil. This year is likely to be as bad or worse. This documentary is being produced in hopes of raising awareness, concern and action. While we move toward renewables and away from oil, we must help those in need.
Short video produced by Joe Public Films earlier this year for Iraq Veterans Against the War.
ExxonMobil rejects Tom Jackson’s film, “Out of Balance: ExxonMobil’s Impact on Climate Change” as chock full of “conspiracy theories.” Tom Jackson responds and gives an update on the film’s release in late 2006.