Amira Al Shanti (Actor / Writer); Rachel Flynn (Producer / Script Editor); Ryan Dewar (Director / Editor); Gordon Robertson (Composer)

Said The Dove To The Olive Tree is a 12 minute film created by Amira Al Shanti and produced by Interabang Productions. A piece of digital spoken word, it explores the complex feelings and identity of a Palestinian diaspora in Scotland. Starring Amira , the film captures the intricate balance between the nostalgic romanticism of a homeland she cannot return to, and the bleak and dangerous reality of the oppression of Palestinians. The film celebrates Scottish signs of solidarity with Palestine in Edinburgh, Dundee, and Glasgow, and celebrates Handala. Said the Dove to the Olive Tree was supported with seed funding from Stellar Quines, with further support from Creative Scotland.

The film will be released online on Saturday 28th August at 5pm on our Facebook page (also a link to YouTube will be available) to commemorate the assassination of Naji Al-Ali, the creator of Palestinian resistance cartoon symbol Handala, which is a featured theme throughout the film.

A future Q&A event with the creators will be organised and announced after the release of the project.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the History of Palestine?
The region was among the earliest in the world to see human habitation, agricultural communities and civilisation and date back 1.5 million years. The discovery of ``The Palestinian Man``, a 100,000 year old skeleton in 1925, provided more evidence of how ancient and sacred this area was showing ritual behaviour. Early Palestine was influenced by the surrounding civilisations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete, and Syria. Diverse commercial ties and an agriculturally based economy led to the development of new pottery forms and the cultivation of grapes and other fruits. To this day Palestine is still greatly influenced and based in agriculture and farming of grapes and olives. This continued through many different ages until around 630s where the Muslim period established. Thereafter different colonial control resided over Palestine for thousands of years which included Egyptian, Ottomon and British colonialism.

The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a ``national home for the Jewish people``, particularly those being displaced by the war and to regime them in Palestine. This decision also collided with Zionism, which arose in the late 19th century in reaction to anti-Semitic and exclusionary nationalist movements in Europe.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917, favoured the establishment of a new Jewish national home in Palestine. It was made during World War I (1914-1918) and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The so-called mandate system, set up by the Allied powers, was a thinly veiled form of colonialism and occupation. Though the Balfour Declaration included the caveat that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, the British mandate was set up in a way to equip Jews with the tools to establish self-rule, at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs.

Soon after President Truman took office, he announced his approval of a recommendation to admit 100,000 displaced persons into Palestine and in October publicly declared his support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Palestinian states from May 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end.

After new borders were formed in 1948, Israel was named and created, the borders have changed on a regular basis as it has spread out and taken over more and more of Palestine.

Despite being renamed as Israel in 1948, 135 United Nations members still recognise Palestine as an Independent State and country opposed to simply a region. Palestine currently comprises mostly of parts of current Israel (occupied Palestine) and also features Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

There are 13 million Palestinians in the world today.

Which religion do Palestinians follow?
About 93% of Palestinians are Muslim, and about 6% are Christian. A very small number of Samaritans - adherents of an early form of Judaism - live around Nablus, in the West Bank. Before 1948, people from all of these faiths lived together peacefully.

Christian Palestinians, fleeing the hardships of the Israeli occupation, have emigrated in disproportionate numbers from Palestine, particularly to the U.S., Central America, and Europe. Thus while most Palestinians are Muslims, many in the West are Christian.
In the Occupied Territories, Palestinian Christians now constitute about 3% of the population and are often very marginalised by the media and Western perception.
Palestinians are not homogenous.
Spanning across numerous ancient religions and representing numerous races, from blue- eyed and ginger Palestinians to Afro- Palestinians, and all colours in between.
Palestinians have local customs differing from town to town. You can see this clearly in their embroidery (Tatreez) traditions. With Palestinian women across the land donning various native clothes, each unique to their local village or community.

What is Zionism?
Zionism is a nationalist, political ideology that called for the creation of a Jewish state, and now supports the continued existence of Israel as such a state. Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, is considered the “father” of political Zionism. The Zionist movement started in the late 19th century, amidst growing European anti-Semitism. The movement secured support among Western European governments, particularly after Zionists agreed to create their Jewish state in historic Palestine.
Palestine was among a few options that Zionists considered as a homeland - including Uganda and Argentina. The reason they chose Palestine was because it is at the heart of Abrahamic faiths, and therefore they could use Judaism as a guise for colonial desires.
What is Colonialism?
Colonialism is defined as “control by one power over a dependent area or people.” It occurs when one nation subjugates another, conquering its population and exploiting it, often while forcing its own language and cultural values upon its people.
Is Zionism colonialism?
Theodor Hertzl wrote to Cecil Rhodes - who colonised Zimbabwe- asking for his support, calling Zionism “ a colonial program”. Zionism called its first bank the “Jewish Colonial Trust”; named its organisations “Jewish Colonisation Association etc.

The first Zionist Congress in 1897 concluded with a “practical program” officially calling for 3 actions: Organization, colonisation and negotiation.”

Why is it problematic to call the situation in Palestine a ‘conflict’?
Talking about the crisis as a “conflict” suggests that there are two sides on equal footing which is just not the case.

Tribune journalist Asia Khatun explains that:

“The normalisation of colonialism begins where it has always begun: in language. These language choices, be they irresponsible or just ignorant, reinforce the notion that this is a conflict in which both sides have the means to be equally as violent towards the other. But the fact of the matter is that Israel is one of the most militarised occupying nations in the world, backed with billions of dollars and weapons from the USA.”

Why is it problematic to only call Palestinians ‘Arabs’?
Words and definitions are incredibly important in defining a sense of identity.

By describing Palestinians as Arabs it takes away Palestinians' strong connection to the land they live in and love as well suggesting the idea Palestinians could simply go to another Arab nation.
Arab is an ethnicity which spans across North Africa and West Asia, but Palestinian refers specifically to the subtype of indigenous people who come from Palestine. Only naming Palestinians as ‘Arabs’ erases their identity, existence and country.
Palestinians are historically a farming society. Around 65% were farmers and the communities relied directly on the land for material sustenance. Without it, they would lose their lives and meaning as a coherent community. They need the land to exist. This is why Israeli forces and settlers uprooting Palestinian’s olive trees and crops as a means to erase their identity and belonging is so cruel.

Mahmoud Darwish, considered Palestine’s national poet wrote this:
“This land give us
All that makes life worth living:
Lady Earth, mother of all beginnings and
Endings,
She was called Palestine
And she is still called Palestine.
My Lady, because you are my lady,
I deserve life.”

Does supporting supporting Palestine make me antisemitic (anti-Jewish)?
First it is important to note that there is no place for antisemitism in the Free Palestine movement. The Palestinian Struggle is one for freedom, equality and justice.

Anti Semitism does not equal Anti - Zionism, in the same way that the Jewish People do not equal the Israeli State.
Conflating anti - Zionist rhetoric with antisemitism undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal double standards of human rights and international law. This idea also erases the identity of the small minority of Palestinian Jews and causes Jews that support Palestine to face adversity - often being called ‘self hating Jews’.
Not everyone Jewish person is a Zionist, and not every Zionist is a Jewish person. Organisations like Scottish Jews Against Zionism and Jewish Voice for Peace work to support Palestinians and dispel these myths.

What is the ‘Nakba’?
Translated in Arabic as ‘catastrophe’, the Nakba or Al-Nakba is the Palestinian term for he destruction of Palestinian society and homeland in 1948, and the permanent displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people. The term is also used to describe the ongoing persecution, displacement, and occupation of the Palestinians, both in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in Palestinian refugee camps throughout the region.

The foundational events of the Nakba took place during and shortly after the 1947-49 Palestine war, where 78% of land known as Palestine was declare as Israel, over 700,000 Palestines were expelled and denied a right of return, over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed and Palestine geographically erased - replacing Arabic place names of Palestine with Hebrew ones.

Nakba Day on 15th May is a yearly memorial and day of mourning for Palestinians around the world.

What are checkpoints?
An Israeli checkpoint , is a barrier erected by the Israeli Security Forces, primarily today part of the system of West Bank closures in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Check points are staffed by armed Israeli Military Police, Border Police, or other soldiers.
There are hundreds of checkpoints within the West Bank which restrict freedom of movement of Palestinians and are in violation of human rights. Palestinian complaints of abuse, humiliation and violence are common. Israeli checkpoints have become death traps where Palestinians are immediately shot for the slightest mistake or even on mere suspicion, as well as being incredibly inconvenient and causing mass delays for Palestinian people. A report by the United Nations in 2007 found that checkpoints slowing pregnant women in labour reaching hospitals resulted in the death of 35 newborns and 5 women between 2000-2007, due to medical complications of being forced to give birth at checkpoints.

We would recommend watching the BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated short film ‘The Present’, directed by Palestinian-British filmmaker Farah Nabulsi. Available on Netflix, it is a touching and honest depiction of a man and his daughter going to buy his wife an anniversary gift and the segregation and struggle caused by Israeli checkpoints.

What is the ‘annexation’ of Palestine and is it legal?
Annexation is the term applied when a state - without approval or agreement - proclaims its sovereignty over other territory. It is forbidden by international law.
What does apartheid mean?
The international community has over the years detached the term apartheid from its original South African context (an Afrikaans word meaning ``separateness``, or ``the state of being apart``) and developed a universal legal prohibition against its practice, and recognised it as a crime against humanity set out in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (“Apartheid Convention”) and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The crime against humanity of persecution, also set out in the Rome Statute, the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights on racial, ethnic, and other grounds, grew out of the post-World War II trials and constitutes one of the most serious international crimes, of the same gravity as apartheid.

Simply is the crime of using the policy or system in place to segregate or discriminate on grounds of race or difference.

What does diaspora mean?
People who come from a particular nation, country or area, or whose ancestors came from it, but who now live or are in exile in many different parts of the world, by choice or by force, are referred to as the diaspora.
Origins are from the Greek, diaspeirein meaning to ‘disperse’, from dia ‘across’+ speirein ‘scatter’.
What is Hamas?
Hamas are a group who do not believe in, or recognise the existence of Israel. They were born during the first intifada in 1987 as a resistance group against heavily armed and oppressive Zionist forces. Hamas later became a political party that won the 2006 elections - the last time they were held - by a landslide. Hamas have been democratically elected in the Gaza strip, in contrast to Fatah who lead some of the West Bank. Like any population, Palestinians have a whole spectrum of political opinion and many criticise both parties. Political agency for Palestinians is limited, due to the occupation and many Palestinians feel unrepresented politically. Hamas is often the focus of criticism by zionists and the media, although these critiques do not contextualise why Hamas exist - they exist because Palestinians are being colonised and subjected to apartheid. It is important to remember that the issue of Palestine and Israel is not two-sided but a disproportionate problem: Israel has one of the most powerful armies in the world (for example, the US sold arms worth $735 million this year) whereas Palestinians have no army; Hamas retaliates to Israel’s siege on Gaza using homemade rockets which do not cause the same damage as an army worth $20.5 billion.
References:
https://bit.ly/3lqwbtH (INFOGRAPHIC)
https://bit.ly/3xmdlGv (IDF)
What is the ‘two state solution’ and the ‘one state solution’?
There are two broad approaches proposed to resolving the occupation of Palestine.

The ‘one-state solution’ refers to a resolution through the creation of a unitary, federal or confederate Israeli-Palestinian state, which would encompass all of the present territory of Israel, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and possibly the Gaza Strip. It outlines encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to coexist as citizens in one state, with equal rights and responsibilities.

The two-state solution envisions an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel west of the Jordan River. The boundary between the two states is still subject to dispute and negotiation, with Palestinian and Arab leadership insisting on the ‘1967 borders’, which is not accepted by Israel. This solution becomes incredibly difficult to practically implement when you take into account the illegal settlements and occupation of houses in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinians living in 48/Historic Palestine, and the large volume of displaced Palestinians still waiting to return home.

There is wide-spread disagreement over which iteration should be implemented, and as such no resolution has yet been agreed.

What is Historic Palestine/'48?
This is the region that is currently referred to as Israel. Palestinians and allies call this area historic Palestine, which acknowledges this area was Palestine prior to colonisation, or '48 after the tragic events that took part during Al-Nakba (The catastrophe) in 1948 in memory of the people killed, abused and displaced for Palestine to be colonised and Israel to be created.
What is BDS?
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is devoted to ending international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and pressuring Israel to comply with national law. It basically means ``stop buying Israeli products``. See links and more at the bottom of this page...
Where can I watch/learn Dabke in Scotland?
ZarifAtToul-AsSamer is a newly formed charity committed to preserving Palestinian folklore, and has a Palestinian dabke folklore troupe which helped us in the presentation of dabke in our film. They regularly perform around Edinburgh and Scotland. Their group can be found on Facebook.
Why are keys an important symbol?
When the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 left their homes, they took their keys with them in the belief that their return was imminent. The keys have been passed on from generation to generation as a keepsake - a memory of their lost homes and symbols of their ‘right of return’.
Where can I find the Scottish landmarks from the short film?
Awda Key - The key is a symbol of the Right of Return (Awda in Arabic) for Palestinian refugees and can be found outside St Mary’s Cathedral on Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. On the 24th of each month at 6.15pm, a short period of communion and reflection is held by Edinburgh Action for Palestine.

Nablus Avenue can be found off Mariner Drive in Dundee (DD2 1TY), situated behind Ninewells Hospital. It is served by bus numbers 10, 39, 16 and 16B.

The Deir Yassin memorial can be found in the Kelvingrove Park. It lies within the grounds of Kelvingrove Art Gallery, near the rear car park. The stone was laid courtesy of Scottish Friends of Palestine.

What can we do?

Listen
Platform and promote Palestinian voices. Listen to what they have to say and hear their stories.
Learn
Stay informed. Read widely and deeply. Inform yourself about Palestinian history and current affairs. Seek un-biased news and don’t rely on the viewpoint of the Western media. Seek justice and the truth.
Educate positively
It can often be difficult to be positive when there is so much to do and when the news seems consistently negative and polarised. But there is hope. Spread legitimate information positively, encouraging more allies and more widespread understanding.
Practice
Saying and encouraging actions are one thing, but practicing your actions eg. BDS and informing others of the same is where it all begins.
Full Range of Emotions
Don't shut people out. For positive change, those who are furtherest away from understanding are those who may benefit from more educated conversations.
to Exist is to Resist
Don’t forget about this film or these issues after a few days. We are stronger together and we must remain united with Palestinians both in the region and in the global Palestinian diaspora.

Voices of Palestine

Auntie killed on a busEnglish
Auntie killed on a busArabic
From the River to the SeaArabic
From the River to the SeaEnglish
54 Years I have never been homeArabic
54 Years I have never been homeEnglish
After the 1967 WarEnglish
After the 1967 warArabic
Arrested as a teenagerArabic
Arrested as a teenagerEnglish
Being Stopped on a busArabic
Diesel Fires in our villageArabic
Diesel Fires in our villageEnglish
Falling in love in PalestineArabic
Sneaking out messagesEnglish
I remember so many warsEnglish
Little Brother lost in the river fleeingArabic
Little Brother lost in the river fleeingEnglish
Studying in PalestineArabic
Studying in PalestineEnglish
Women watch men lined up to be shotArabic
Women watch men lined up to be shotEnglish
Trauma starts as a childArabic
Travelling in restrictionsArabic
You can't visit friends or familyArabic
Using a disguise to returnArabic
Using a disguise to returnEnglish
We hid Yasser ArafatArabic
We hid Yasser ArafatEnglish
Naji Salim Hussain al-Ali ناجي سليم حسين العلي drew Handala in 1969. The figure turned his back to the viewer from the year 1973 and remains an iconic symbol of Palestinian identity and defiance.

The artist explained that the ten-year-old represented his age when forced to leave Palestine and would not grow up until he could return to his homeland;  his turned back and clasped hands symbolised the character’s rejection of “outside solutions”. Handala wears ragged clothes and is barefoot, symbolising his allegiance to the poor. In later cartoons, he is actively participating in the action depicted not merely observing it. The artist vowed that his figure, Handala, will “reveal his face to the readers again only when Palestinian refugees return to their homeland”.

Naji was assassinated in London outside of a Kuwaiti newspaper building on 22nd July 1987 and died five weeks later on 29th August 1987 at 49 years old. Read more at Handala.org

DOWNLOAD HANDALA. Print him out on A4 or draw your own. Cut him out. Colour him in. Be creative. Take him to your favourite Scottish or Palestinian landmark and post to your social media channels with the tag #handalaexists

Post your selfie on social #HandalaExists

Further information to
make a difference

Amira Handala

What is BDS?
What can I do?
Write to your MP
Support
Read the script
What is BDS?
What can we do to help Palestine, regain basic human rights, and other resistance to ethic cleansing.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is devoted to ending international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and pressuring Israel to comply with national law. On its website, the BDS National Committee (BNC) outlines five actions you can take to challenge the complicity of global governments and corporations, including boycotts, community mobilisation, and joining a solidarity group.

If international governments are not willing to hold the Israel accountable, we must do so ourselves. One of the best ways ordinary people can make a difference is to boycott companies complicit in this. This puts economic pressure on Israel to change policies, and to know that the rest of the world is watching. 

BDS has real world implications, take the Ben and Jerrys decision on 19/07/2021.

What can I do?
Donate

Medical Aid for Palestine or MAP are a registered charity who are on the ground right now supporting those injured  Click here🔗

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund has been working in the Middle East for over 25 years constantly offering surgery and urgent aid to children of all religions and nationalities. Click here🔗

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund has been working in the Middle East for over 25 years constantly offering surgery and urgent aid to children of all religions and nationalities.

Save The Children have been working for Palestinian children’s rights in Gaza and the West Bank since 1953. Click here🔗

Climb For Palestine is a Scottish-based fundraiser, raising money for the Lajee Center in Bethlehem’s Aida Camp, and Benaa Youth Center in Khan Yunis, Gaza.  Click here🔗

Write to your MP
Write to your MP

If you can’t afford to donate you can still try and enact change by writing to your MP.

FOA is a non-profit group campaigning for humans rights, and on their website they provide specific letter templates you can use to send to your MP such as a letter about saving Sheikh Jarrah – a Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem where Palestinian residents are under threat of being forcibly displaced to make way for Jewish settlers. Click here🔗

Support
Support

Marches and peaceful protests have been going on globally asking for governments to step in and end the violence. Thousands of people around Scotland have joined marches in the last year. Keep an eye on your local social media pages for details of upcoming marches, events and other information on how to support in your local area:

Find a full list Scottish ally groups here: Click here🔗

Read the script
Read The Script

Download and read the script from the short film below.

Palestine Nature & wildlife

Fennec Fox

ثعلب الفنك

It resides in the desert regions of Palestine near the Dead Sea

Prickly Pear

سبر

They are used not only to produce the tasty fruit, but also as natural borders between houses and villages. It is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and hangovers. It’s also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties..

Ibex

البدن، أو الوعل

It resides in the Jordan Valley from the north to the south in the rocky areas of the eastern slopes of the mountains of Jerusalem

Olive Tree

شجرة الزيتون

Olive production accounted for 57% of cultivated land in Palestine with 7.8 million fruit-bearing trees. They are draught-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. 

Caracal

الوشق أو عناق الأرض

Recorded in the northern Dead Sea area Jordan River area –it’s Endangered and decreasing in numbers

Jaffa Orange

برتقال يافا

‘Jaffa’ oranges, also known as shamouti, are practically seedless, with a flavour that has been described as “excellent” and “sweet and fine”.

Spring is scented with citrus blossom.

European Genet

الجرنيط

Located between Jerusalem and Hebron and the Dead Sea area

Fig Tree

شجرة التين

Figs were one of the oldest fruit trees known to Palestinian people and cultivated by them. Harvested to nature’s clock, fully ripened and partially dried on the tree. They naturally help hold in moisture in baked goods, keeping them fresher.

Honey Badger

الراتل أو غرير العسل

It resides in the Dead Sea area and mountainous areas in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nablus

Almonds

لوز

Almonds thrive on the rocky terrain, and growers from across 15 villages in Palestine pick and shell the whole almonds by hand. In flower; they produce fragrant, five-petaled, light pink to white flowers

Sunbird

بلبل

The Palestine sunbird is a small passerine bird of the sunbird family

Grapevine

كرمة عنب

Grapevines are one of the main fruits yielded in Palestine. Also harvested and used to create wine. Historically grapevines are tied to biblical stories from Palestine. Grapevine cultivation is among the most important agricultural crops in the world for fruit and for wines.

Supported by Creative Scotland