The Stones Cry Out

Powerful documentary film by Yasmine Perni

shown at The Hermitage, Girne

By Margaret Sheard….

Having been made aware of the documentary made by Yasmine Perni, I was very keen to see this film and so we went along to The Hermitage in Girne on Friday 29th May where there were many people who were also interested in seeing this powerful film – The Stones Cry Out, which tells the story of Palestine’s Christian community, their history and their suffering.

The Stones Cry Out

I have never been able to quite understand the problems of Palestine and Israel and hoped the film would at least answer some of my questions and indeed it did.  Talking to Jasmine before the film she said people need to visit Palestine to really understand what is happening there and it was when she visited in 2006 that she realised the extent of the suffering and felt she needed to do something to tell the world how it really is.  A brave lady.

Jasmine was born in Italy, her father is Italian and her Mother is from Finland.   The family moved to Egypt when Jasmine was 13 and during her early years she was always led to believe that the Palestinians were cowards and they ran away.  It wasn’t until she had first-hand experience of living in Jerusalem that she realised this was not the case.DSC_0013

As the sun was still shining when everyone had arrived at The Hermitage, the film was delayed for a while and this gave the audience an opportunity to chat together and enjoy their picnic which we had been recommended to take along.   As the sun went down, Revd Wendy Hough greeted everyone and added her personal experiences in Palestine and then Jasmine gave a brief talk to the audience before the film was shown.  No-one moved or spoke during the film, everyone was completely quiet with their own thoughts throughout.

Jasmine told me that it was the first time she had visited Cyprus, although she has a lot of Cypriot friends, but she was only here for 3 days and would be then travelling back to her home in Italy where she is looking forward to relaxing and spending time with her family following extensive travelling and promotion of the film.

We have looked at Jasmine’s website and feel that the way in which things are explained are far more thought-provoking than anything I could relate and so we are giving a transcript below courtesy of Yasmine Perni and The Stones Cry Out from her website click here

Christianity was born in Palestine two thousand years ago. From there it spread throughout the Middle East and to the rest of the world. Yet many are unaware Christians still live in the land.

For more than 60 years the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, have suffered displacement, expulsion, wars, occupation and oppression.

The voices of Palestinian Christians have all too often been drowned out in the turmoil of events.

This is their story, in their voices, from the Nakba of 1948 until today.

About the Filmmaker

Yasmine Perni moved from her native Italy to the Middle East when Jasmine Pernishe was 13 years old, living in Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Jerusalem. A graduate of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, she has worked as a journalist, photographer, television producer and mother. She speaks Italian, English, Swedish and Arabic.

Perni went into documentary film making inspired by the Christians of Palestine, whose story of perseverance and pride has been largely obscured by the headlines. It was her first experience at producing and writing a documentary, and she conducted extensive research, combed through official Palestinian. Israel and United Nations film archives, and traveled the length and breadth of historic Palestine.

Married and with three children, she recently returned to live in Italy, where she continues to pursue her professional interests and frequently travels back to the Middle East.

About the film

In 1948, tens of thousands of Palestinian villagers were driven from their homes in what was officially dubbed “Operation Broom”, intended to literally sweep tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the fertile hills and valleys of the Galilee, and make way for settlers in the newly created state of Israel.

Bishop
Elias Chacour, Archbishop of Galilee

Elias Chacour, now the Archbishop of the Galilee, was just a little boy when Israeli troops ordered his family out of the Christian village of Kifr Bir’am. He left the village with a blanket on his shoulder, walking to his new home, a cave.

Today Kifr Bir’am is an Israeli national park, the houses of the village are crumbling, the church is abandoned.

After the Galilee came the expropriation of the West Bank in 1967, the settlements, the wall. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, is now hemmed in by the wall, cut off from Jerusalem, and robbed of much of its agricultural land.

All too often media coverage of the conflict in Palestine has framed it as a fight between Muslims and Jews, largely ignoring the fact that Palestine was the birthplace of Christianity, that Palestinians are both Muslims and Christians, and that Palestinian Christians have played a critical role in their land’.

My impression.

Do I understand the situation fully, maybe not entirely, but the one thing which really went home to me was the wall around Bethlehem, a lady in her lovely house living with her children and a wall surrounding them on 3 sides, which is all they can look out on.   I seem to remember when the Berlin Wall was knocked down it was said this will never happen again!!  And yet it has and of all places Bethlehem which conjures up so many emotions from childhood memories – O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem Wall

Another impression by Chris Elliott.

“I was challenged by a friend a few years ago to write about Exodus, which I did in both a newspaper and on cyprusscene which was entitled Exodus to Where? The Missing Camps of Cyprus in which, after a great deal of research, I explained how the British Authorities who controlled Palestine published a White Paper in 1938 which Exodusrestricted the number of immigrants who could enter Palestine and in the ensuing years many ships tried to reach their destination, some with disastrous results.

Some readers may be aware of the ship Exodus which sailed from the port of Marseille in July 1947 with 4,515 immigrants including children. British destroyers accompanied this vessel and on July 18th 1947 they forced it to stop in international waters and boarded the ship on which two immigrants and a crew member were killed and 10 or more people were injured. The ship was then taken into the port of Haifa in Palestine where the immigrants were forced onto more ships and sent back to Europe to displaced persons camps at Am Staunear nr Lubeck and Pöppendorf in Germany. These events of course differ somewhat from those depicted in the film “Exodus”.

Arriving refugees that numbered up to 50,000 were sent to nine camps located in the Dhekelia and Famagusta areas during the period 1946 to 1949. Of the Xylotymbou camps in the Dhekelia area no trace can be found today.  Caraolos camp north Tents in Campof Famagusta was said to have been a prisoner of war camp built by the British to hold Turkish prisoners of war during the period 1916 to 1923. Today it is believed the location of this camp is in a Turkish Cypriot Military controlled area and therefore cannot be verified.

Reports indicate that some detainees did in fact tunnel out of the Caraolos camp and a number of small fishing boats were stolen but detainees were recaptured. The tale of the ship Exodus being hijacked in Famagusta harbour is just that, a story based loosely around a number of historical events.

Here in Cyprus we have two states The Republic of Cyprus and The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus but only one state is recognised by the world, but at least we have had peace if not harmony for the past 40 years.”

The final paragraph in my article sums up for me the similarities between the North Cyprus and Palestine issues where the world prefers to turn its back on injustice perhaps in favour of favourable relations with other countries. Shame on them.

To read all of this article click here