The Great March of Return, a peaceful Palestinian protest movement that began at the border between Gaza and Israel in the spring of 2017, has become an ongoing massacre in which Israel commits brazen war crimes as the world looks on. This human rights crisis is captured by filmmakers Abby Martin and Mike Prysner in their donation-funded documentary “Gaza Fights for Freedom” that features footage by Palestinian journalists.
“One of the largest humanitarian crises in the world [is] manufactured,” Martin tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence” while discussing the conflict in Gaza. “We’re not talking about Haiti, we’re not talking about Yemen. We’re talking about an area that’s been cordoned off, besieged, with 2.2 million people. Seventy-five percent of them are refugees that were ethnically cleansed from lands that they can see, beyond this artificial barrier that’s been imposed on them by their occupiers.”
Prysner, who became familiar with the horrors of occupation as a U.S. soldier in Iraq, brought a unique perspective to the film Scheer describes as powerful mandatory viewing.
“I was radicalized as a young 19-year-old soldier in Iraq who very quickly felt terrible about the things I was doing as an occupying soldier,” Prysner explains. “And when I went to Palestine---I went to Gaza in 2009, I went to the West Bank in 2017—I got to be on the other side of it—to be in the car with some 19-year-old [Israeli soldier] staring down a machine gun at our vehicle. [I saw] that it was the same level of brutal, humiliating occupation [imposed on Iraq].”
Despite the ongoing conflict being framed as increasingly hopeless, especially given the rise of the far right in both Israel and the U.S., there is substantial reason to hope a resolution is within reach. As the three journalists point out, there’s a high-profile Jewish American whose election in 2020 as U.S. president could bring lasting peace to the Middle East.
“Bernie Sanders has the best position on Palestine,” Martin tells Scheer. “And he actually shares the position that Hamas does: withdraw the settlements to the 1967 borders. And their new charter actually unequivocally denounces anti-Semitism, and makes it very clear that the fight is against political Zionism. This is a shared sentiment from progressive Jewish organizations worldwide. So people might be surprised to learn that the peace could happen actually tomorrow if Bernie Sanders, Hamas get together, and they both agree on this notion!”
Listen to Scheer, Martin and Prysner discuss the Gaza protests and Americans’ role in both the devastation and possible restoration of Palestinian freedom.