A new film documents the story of a Palestinian woman who wanted to open up a movie theater in Nazareth in the 90s. But a closer look reveals that women were running Palestine’s cinemas long before.
By Eli Aminov (Translated to English by Connie Hackbarth, Alternative Information Center)
A recent article by Nirit Anderman published in Haaretz covers a new film that will be screened next week at the Haifa International Film Festival. “Nazareth Cinema Lady,” directed by Nurit Jacobs-Yinon, tells the story of Safaa Dabour, a Palestinian who grew up in a wealthy and religious Muslim family in Nazareth. In the 1990′s Dabour began to fulfill her dream of establishing a cinematheque in the city of Nazareth.
Despite the opposition and derision suffered from her family, as well as the pressure she faced from her conservative society, which prefers that woman fulfill their traditional tasks in the home and not participate in the public spaces, Dabour succeeded in realizing her dream in 2003. She had the idea after she was forced, like other residents of Nazareth, to go to Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque to see a Palestinian-directed film.
It is likely that the author of the article, the film’s director and perhaps even the film’s heroine do not know that this isn’t the first time a woman has run a movie theater in Palestine. They certainly don’t imagine that this situation, in which Palestinian women face limitations and difficulties concerning their participation in the public sphere, such as the lack of such spaces in Arab society and the perception of a woman running a movie theater as something extraordinary, is a direct result of the establishment of the State of Israel. This lack of knowledge is not the result of ignorance, but rather of intentional actions by the Israeli establishment in what can be termed as “memory killing.”
Existing patterns of behavior in Palestinian society in Israel are not the result of an historical continuation of traditional patriarchy that controls society, but a renewed phenomenon created following the 1948 War. It was during this year that urban Palestine was annihilated and Palestinian society was thrown backwards from the 20th century to the previous one. This is because the social situation of women in urban Palestine during the British Mandate was much better than the situation under Israeli rule today.
Take Ophelia Butrus for example. She was an exiled Palestinian...Read More