Gaza, the spark that can burn the narratives of the culture war between Israel and Palestine

What is happening in Gaza represents a failure of humanity of such caliber that challenges all humans as members of the species. It challenges us, yes, but it also affects us. It is true that bombs do not rain on our hospitals and schools nor are the public shot at. raves peaceful, and that, contrary to the innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians who suffer from them, we can abstract ourselves from the horror of the images in which they star. But what we cannot escape is the consequences that the slow genocide of more than two million fellow humans can have on the world order under which we live and on the future development of our history and our ways of life.

Almost 4,000 kilometers from Gaza city, in the Principal Theater of Santiago de Compostela, the Amal festival, the Euro-Arab Film Week organized by the Araguaney Foundation. It aims to be, in the words of its director, Ghaleb Jaber Martínez“a meeting of cultures, a space in which the big screen becomes a window and that window becomes a door to exchange, to empathy and to understanding“But also, due to the situation in which the contest takes place, a warning about our own intellectual position regarding the horror in Gaza: “No one is safe, we are all in danger regardless of where we were born,” says Jaber. “If we ignore the pain from others that pain will transform into rage, and anger destroys everything.”

“Gaza was already uninhabitable three years ago, but now we are facing the most radical government in the history of Israel”

Last Monday night, a video of Public about the chronology of the Israeli blockade of Gaza opened the festival and gave rise to a discussion moderated by Jaber in which the journalist, the journalist Esther Rebolloand the co-director of the Institute for Conflict Studies and Humanitarian Action (Iecah), Jesus Nunezthey debated the situation on the strip, contextualizing it in the origins of the conflict between Israel and Palestine; its socioeconomic roots; the silent and timorous response of an international community that has been ignoring it from a distance for decades, as if the continued non-compliance with the legality with which it has been endowed was only with it; about the current war between Israel and Hamas and, especially, about the discourses generated around all of the above.

The worst possible scenario

“We are facing the worst possible scenario,” said Esther Rebollo, referring to the more than 75 years that have passed since the proclamation of the State of Israel and the progressive but unstoppable occupation of the Promised Land in which the Palestinians They have been settled for millennia, and for those more than two million besieged fellow human beings it has been reduced to a piece of desert the size of Orihuela (Alicante), or Vilalba (Lugo). With the difference that the combined population that lives in these two municipalities barely represents 4% of which is overcrowded in inhumane conditions in the strip for decades, and since last October 8, without food, water, electricity, medicine, fuel…

The assistant to the direction of ‘Público’, Esther Rebollo, during the colloquium. Araguaney Foundation

“It is the worst possible scenario because Gaza was already uninhabitable three years ago, but now we are facing the most far-right and radical Government in the history of Israel, some of whose members have advocated the extermination of the Palestinian peopleon the one hand, and with Hamas controlling the Strip, on the other,” said Rebollo. For the deputy director of Publiche blocking and the indiscriminate bombings on civilian objectives ordered by the Executive of Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the Hamas attacks of October 7, represent “a revengea collective punishment“incompatible with the humanitarian law and the laws of war. “He is a failure of humanity as a whole,” he warned.

“In a territory with 6,000 inhabitants per square kilometer [los barrios más poblados de Madrid y Barcelona no alcanzan esa densidad]it is impossible to do ‘selective bombings‘, as the Israeli Government calls them,” said Jesús Fernández, who also stressed the relevance of the “perversion of speech and the definition of concepts” through which Israel has been winning over the West for decades cultural battle derived from the conflict. “There is talk of ‘anti-Semitism’ as if the Palestinians were not also Semites; of ‘illegal settlements’ as if there were legal ones; of ‘dead’ in bombings in Gaza facing ‘murdered’ in the kibbutz…”.

Narratives and dehumanization

The deputy director of Public also detailed how those “narratives“that for years have surrounded confrontations and war have allowed us to build the ideological positions from which we Westerners observe not only the political and military conflict, but also its direct consequences on those who suffer from it: “We humanize Israeli victimswe see their photographs, the statements of their relatives, we know what they did, what they were doing when they were murdered… But we dehumanize Palestinian victims because we only treat them as numbers,” Rebollo explained.

“We humanize the Israeli victims but we dehumanize the Palestinian victims

In that sense, Ghaleb Jaber agreed with the assessment of the two experts with the following reflection on how the Israeli argument in that dialectical war: “It is said that the Palestinian people are the only ones that Israel dominates, when in reality it happens that his speech “it dominates them all, the whole world except, precisely, the Palestinians.”

Jaber Martínez is the son of Ghaleb Jaber Ibrahima Palestinian doctor and businessman based in Santiago who in 1967, when he was 17 years old, escaped with his family from the West Bank, fleeing the War of the six days. It was as a result of that conflict that Israel He occupied that territory in addition to the Sinai Peninsula, in Egypt; from East Jerusalem; of the Golan Heights, in Syria, and the Gaza Stripwhose population he has since kept under his control. domain curtailing not only the right of its inhabitants to equip themselves and develop their own political structures, but also to have the basic infrastructure to guarantee a decent subsistence.


It is in that context in which it is born Hamas, a paramilitary organization declared terrorist by Israel even though it was his own Israeli state which encouraged its growth to fragment the Palestinian national liberation movement. The United States, the EU, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and the Organization of American States, among others, also consider it a terrorist organization, but not powers such as China and Russia and states such as Turkey, Norway, Brazil and even Switzerland. And both Rebollo and Fernández agree that Hamasin large part, is the result of “the impotence and the frustration” of the Gazansof the pain of years turned into rage of which Ghaleb Jabar Martínez spoke. On the other hand, Netanyahu’s is a corrupt Government, formed by ultra-Orthodox and harassed by Justice, for which the attacks have represented in a certain way the possibility of throwing a “smoke screen” to hide its weakness.

10/24/23 The director of the Institute of Conflict Studies and Humanitarian Action, Jesús Núñez
The director of the Institute for Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action, Jesús Núñez, during last Monday’s debate. Araguaney Foundation

The two speakers agree that, given the circumstances, the current situation can lead to “a global fire of catastrophic proportions”, according to the co-director of Iecah, who warns that positions such as that of the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyensupporting Israel despite not having any mandate from EU member states, “places Europeans as the target of the jihadist terrorism“.”Gaza could be the spark to start the fire,” adds Rebollo.

“Gaza could be the start of a global fire of catastrophic proportions”

In 2000, Ghaleb’s father Jaber Martínez created the Araguaney Foundation, through which he aims to promote social and economic debate in Galicia about the internationalization, tolerance and integration of Arab, Spanish and Ibero-American cultures. For years he has organized the Euro-Arab Film Weekwhose catalog always offers that open window to approach not only the Arab world and its cinematographic culture, but also the vision that that world has of itself and its role in the world.

Arabic cinema

Just before the debate, Jaber gave the floor to Sami Ashoura Gazan who settled in Santiago 15 years ago escaping the fringe horror. “Imagine the population of Galicia [2,7 millones de habitantes] living in 1.2% of the community’s territory,” said Ashour, who also alluded to the stories that festival viewers will be able to see this week: “Arab cinema is full of pleasant stories, but since I was born I have been watching always the same movie, the same story. And I think that the greatest achievement of mine, of my history, is having saved my children the seven wars that their grandparents, their uncles and their cousins ​​have had to suffer”.

On this occasion, the Amal festival will allow you to see works such as Conspiracy in Cairoor (Tarik Saleh, 2022); among the fig trees (Taht alshajra, 2022); The Sage (Basil Alkhatib, 2021); Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege (Abdallah Al-Khatib, 2021) and The blue caftan (The blue caftanMaryam Touzani, 2022).

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