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Why Iraqis resist

November 2, 2007 | Page 11

Meeting Resistance, a documentary by Molly Bingham and Steve Connors, Nine Lives Documentary Productions. Visit www.meetingresistance.com for local screenings.

DAWNING GREENSTREET and HANNAH WOLFE review a new documentary about Iraq.

MEETING RESISTANCE, a powerful documentary about the Iraqi resistance, exposes the lies told about the "insurgency." Molly Bingham and Steve Connors shot the film over 10 months in the Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad during 2003 and 2004.

The film shows the brutality of daily life under U.S. military occupation. Bingham and Connors made the film without any sort of security detail; they gained the trust of Iraqi civilians who guided them and translated for them during the making of the film. This allows for a street-level perspective bringing viewers up close and personal to the horrors of occupation.

The filmmakers interviewed dozens of ordinary Iraqis involved in armed resistance against the U.S. occupation. These men and women come from many different parts of Iraqi society but are united by a common goal: to force the U.S. out of Iraq.

This film asks long overdue questions: What would you do if your country was repeatedly bombed by foreign forces and then invaded by a foreign military that has no understanding of your culture, language or religion?

How would you react if your home were raided by armed foreigners, your loved ones dragged away, tortured and murdered? Most people would fight back under these conditions.

In the post-screening discussion in New York City, director Connors cited a high-ranking U.S. military officer as saying over dinner recently, "The American people don't understand, the only way we can win this war is by committing genocide."

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THIS FILM dispels the myth delivered to the American public on a daily basis from the corporate media and U.S. politicians--that the Iraq resistance is comprised of fringe elements of Iraqi society and foreign Islamic militants. Meeting Resistance interviews normal people who are outraged by the invasion of their country and feel that there is no alternative but to resist.

Those interviewed come from a variety of ideologies--some Iraqi nationalist, some from religious backgrounds, and others with a pan-Arab nationalist framework, but all are dedicated to fighting for an Iraq free of foreign occupation.

The most important point of this film is that it exposes the root of violence in Iraq, the U.S. occupation. According to the filmmakers, 74 percent of all bombings in Iraq are directed at U.S. forces, 16 percent are directed at Iraqi Security forces.

This clearly illustrates that the majority of the violence would end if U.S. forces were completely withdrawn from Iraq. The last part of the film takes up the question of sectarianism and dismantles the myth that sectarian violence has always been a part of Iraqi life.

The resistance fighters interviewed are both Shia and Sunni and are often intermarried and have spent their lives living side by side. They concretely point out that it is in the interest of the occupiers to divide Iraq along sectarian lines because the U.S. does not want to face a unified resistance.

"This film gave me some context to understand why the so-called insurgency emerged so quickly after the invasion of Iraq and why it continues to escalate," said New York City Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) chapter president José Vasquez. "The occupation is a no-win situation and until U.S. military forces withdraw the cycle of violence will continue.

"While the debate over the reasons for the invasion and occupation in the U.S. and Europe centers on oil, for the average Iraqi it has to do with national identity, religion, and their own sense of dignity. Also, the idea that foreign fighters, Baathists, and ex-military members are the main components of the resistance in Iraq is patently false.

"From what I could see it is everyday Iraqis who are fed up with being brutalized that are the ones fighting back. Perhaps this film will help people realize that immediate withdrawal is the most expedient and humanitarian course of action. I think it also helps us see that if the tables were turned Americans would respond in a similar manner."

In a heated audience discussion after the film in New York, one filmgoer questioned the "ethical obligation" of the filmmakers to report their knowledge of "insurgent" activity to "U.S. authorities," referring to a scene of resistance members rigging an explosive device.

An IVAW member in the audience replied, to much applause, "If you want to see whose bombs are really killing a lot of people, just go to Boeing or Lockheed." Another responded, "The ethical obligation of the filmmakers is to tell the story of the Iraqi resistance, because no-one else is doing it."

Overall, this film has the power to dispel the racist myths about Iraqi violence put forward by the U.S. ruling class and open up a serious discussion in the antiwar movement about supporting the Iraqi resistance and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq.

It is up to grassroots antiwar activists to make sure that this film is seen by as many people as possible. Corporate film distribution dictates that early box-office sales determine whether the film will be screened to broader audiences.

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