To get into a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to open oneself to a myriad of opinions and emotions. Everyone has a strong view of what should happen and is expected to pick a side without much room for nuance or the multiple shades of gray that make up such a complicated and heart- rending situation.
Locals Jesse Roberts of Rise Up International and Jesse Locke of AMZ Productions wanted to make a film focused on the refugee experience and headed to Palestine to see what they could do. The film "Radiance of Resistance" is the fruit of those labors and a powerfully eye-opening work of art. We asked Locke a few questions about the life-changing experience:
Source Weekly: What was your initial reasoning for getting involved with the film? What made this a story you needed to tell?
Jesse Locke: I was asked by Jesse Roberts of Rise Up International two years ago to go with him to Palestine to help him film a documentary there. I had no idea what was going on over there, but it was an opportunity I knew I couldn't pass up. So I went, and when you are in Palestine there is no denying how amazing these people are and how horrible the situation is there. So once I met these incredible Palestinians, there was no other answer than tell their tale and try to do them justice.
SW: What was your largest concern while filming?
JL: There were many concerns while filming. We were involved in their weekly demonstrations against the Israeli forces near their village. We were tear-gassed on two separate occasions. So there was a fear of being physically injured a few times. The biggest fear for me was getting our footage out of the country. We flew out of Tel-Aviv and they are known for their interrogation tactics and seizing any footage/equipment etc. that might paint the Israelis in a bad light. They do not want people going to Palestine and filming, and they try very hard to prevent that from happening. So it was a huge relief when I passed through security with the hard drive still on my person.
- Filmmaker, Jesse Locke
SW: What do you hope people take away from the film?
JL: My number one goal for this film (especially for the American audiences) is to slowly break down the fears and stereotypes that a large majority of people have regarding Muslims and Arabic culture in general. They are not all terrorists who want to kill you. These are some of the kindest and bravest people I've ever met. They welcome you with open arms. At the end of the day they are just like me or you, trying to provide a living for their family and get through another day. A huge difference is that for them to get through their day they have to deal with an Israeli military occupation that constantly harasses and intimidates them.
SW: Do you see an end to the fight in our lifetime? In our kids' lifetimes?
JL: It was very hard going over there this last time. The Palestinian people as a whole are very defeated. With the election of Trump and the constant construction of more settlements, they feel like there is no hope. I asked many of them, "What is the first step in trying to change the current situation?" and they just looked at me, shook their heads, and said: "There is no solution." It's very sad. So no I don't think that this situation will be solved in my lifetime or in our kids' lifetimes.
- Filmmaker, Jesse Roberts
SW: How can Americans effect change over there?
JL: The number one things I would like Americans to do is to open their minds. Understand that there is a big world out there. That these things are happening right now! Not in some history book. Stay away from painting a whole entire culture with one quick brush stroke. Don't let fear blind your judgment. If you have questions then get out there and research it. Don't take the media's word for it. Find out for yourself. Another way Americans can effect change would be to get behind the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. The BDS works to end international support for Israel's oppression of the Palestinians.
"Radiance of Resistance" Oregon Premiere
Thurs., June 22. 7:30pm
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
700 NW Bond St., Bend