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The New Arab

Take your seats for the A-list Israeli occupation tour

Checkpoints are part of everyday life for Palestinians [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 February, 2016

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Oscar hopefuls have been invited to explore the West Bank and see how everyday life is for Palestinians, under occupation. It comes after Israel promised a 'trip-of-a-lifetime' to A-list actors.

Oscar nominees have been invited to explore the occupied West Bank, and experience for themselves the road blocks, rubber bullets, and tear gas that make up everyday life for Palestinians.

Artists for the Palestine UK - a pro-Palestine advocacy group - offer to actors and filmmakers is in response to Israel's invitation for a "trip of a lifetime" to Oscar attendees.

While Oscar hopefuls can enjoy five-star accommodation, cocktails, and a personal security escort during their free-of-charge trip to Israel, the West Bank tour offers something a little more true to life for most Palestinians.

Oscar hopefuls can experience being pushed around by angry Israeli soldiers, all night interrogation by Shin Bet officers, and the chance to queue for hours under the sun at one of the West Bank's many sprawling checkpoints.

"Enjoy a tear-gas filled weekend in an East Jerusalem ghetto… watch a baby being born in the back of a taxi as a checkpoint guard looks on," the "tour operators" promise.

While the invitees for the movie awards ceremony have received gift bags worth an estimated $200,000, the Palestinian activists promised film stars a take home swag bag with a difference.

It includes a "handy first-aid kit for settler-induced beatings, a lovingly-crafted section of an uprooted olive tree, [and] a genuine souvenir rubber bullet".

Organisers hope the tongue-in-cheek offer to Hollywood A-listers will counter Israeli PR efforts during Oscars night. They hope it will also raise awareness about the effects of Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

"Our hope is that other artists will follow suit and take a stand for Palestinian human rights, as so many cultural figures did in the struggle against South African apartheid," said music producer and pro-Palestine activist Brian Eno.

Asif Kapadia, whose documentary film on British singer Amy Winehouse won an Oscar, had already pledged to turn down Israel's invitation, as have a number of other actors and filmmakers.

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