On Wednesday evening the Tanweer Centre in Nablus held a viewing of the short film, “Memory of a Cactus: A Tale of Three Palestinian Villages”. The film by Hanna Musleh, and produced by the Al-Haq Palestinian human rights organisation, focussed on the destruction and murder by the Israeli Army, or Naksa as it is known, of three Palestinian villages after the 1967 war: Yalu, Emmaus and Beit Nuba.
The film told the story of Um Najeh, who was a victim of the Naksa after being expelled by the invading Israeli Army from her home in Emmaus. With tears in her eyes she spoke to the audience through the camera, of how her husband was murdered by the Army, and how her small children kept asking for their father. The film returned the audience to present day Emmaus, now the site of Canada Park, an attempt by Apartheid Israel to wipe out its Palestinian origins.
She went on to describe her suffering after she was forced from her home, with the film following her as she returned to Qalandia refugee camp, where she had settled for sometime with her young children. Um Najeh poignantly spoke to the camera about her desire to die back in her village.
The film ended with the news that Um Najeh died shortly after the filming, never able to return to her village for her last moments. But as the title of the film suggested, the memories of Um Najeh that she shared with the audience through the film mean, like the cactus tree which resolutely refuses to die despite the Israelis attempts to erase it and the Palestinian villages it grew in, her memory and rights continue.
The film showing was followed by a question and answer session with Samer Abdo Aqrouq. The audience spoke of their commitment to the right of return, and for the need to ensure refugees rights such as Um Najeh are not given away as part of the American brokered ‘peace’ negotiations.