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'The Law in These Parts' in Context

The Future: What’s Next?

The film closes with a statement by defendant Bassem Tamimi, excerpted below:

Your honor, I was born in the same year as the occupation, and ever since, I’ve been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom. I have been imprisoned nine times for a sum total of almost three years, though I was never convicted of any felony. During one of my detentions, I was paralyzed as a result of torture. My wife was detained, my children wounded, my land stolen by settlers and now my house is slated for demolition. International law recognizes that occupied people have the right to resist. Because of my belief in this right, I organize popular demonstrations against the theft of more than half of my village’s land, against settler attacks, against the occupation. You, who claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East, are trying me under laws written by authorities I have not elected, and which do not represent me. For me, these laws do not exist; they are meaningless. The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. What actually incited them was the occupation’s bulldozers on our land, the guns, the smell of tear-gas. And if the military judge releases me, will I be convinced there is justice in your courts?

What is your reaction to this statement? How would you respond to his suggestion that demonstration organizers are not the ones who incite stone throwers and that instead the incitement comes from Israeli actions?

Tamimi closes by questioning the capacity of the judge to deliver justice, no matter what the verdict. What does this suggest about the limits of military courts in the context of an occupation? What would justice look like for Tamimi? What would constitute justice for Israel’s military courts? Can you envision what justice would look like if it satisfied all of the stakeholders in this conflict?

The filmmaker ends the film with the observation that the audience can now go back to “everyday reality” and he will likely “move on to document another subject.” But those living in the limbo of occupation wait. Why do you think he ends the film with this sentence?

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