Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here ‘a today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1.Beliefnet tackles Israeli – Palestinian conflict. Beliefnet is hosting a special online event tomorrow night (Wednesday, 9/21) @ 7 PM ET focusing on efforts to pursue violent answers to the intractable tensions that between Israelis and Palestinians.

The event will begin with  the online premiere of the documentary film Little Town of Bethlehem which chronicles the efforts of three men of different faiths to overcome the culture of violence that surrounds them and engulfs the region. The movie will be followed by a live panel discussing the themes and issues raised by the film.You can view the trailer below.

For information on the event, click here. You can submit questions to the panel by using hashtag #GVoN on Twitter. Please note where you are from. If you happen to be in the Washington D.C. area, you may want to attend the event which is being held at the  Edward J. Pryzbyla Center @ The Catholic University of America .

About the movie (from its website):

The film examines the struggle to promote equality through nonviolent engagement in the midst of incredible violence that has dehumanized all sides. Sami’s story begins as a young boy living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank; Yonatan’s starts on an Israeli military base; and Ahmad’s begins in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Their three stories are interwoven through the major events of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, starting with the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics and following through the first Intifada, suicide bombings in Israel, the Oslo Accords, the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, and the second Intifada. Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad each describe the events from their unique perspective, interjecting personal reflections and explaining how these events led them to become involved in the nonviolence movement.

In Bethlehem, the city where it is said that God became man, Sami just wants to be seen as human. First learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a teen, he began lecturing about nonviolence in high school. Later, Sami traveled to India to learn more about Gandhi. As the result of his discoveries, he founded the organization Holy Land Trust to promote nonviolence in the Palestinian community.

Yonatan embraced his father’s legacy as a pilot in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and fulfilled his own dream of becoming an IDF helicopter pilot. However, his journey led him to the astonishing decision to join with 26 other IDF pilots who publicly refused to participate in missions that would lead to civilian casualties. Co-founding the organization Combatants for Peace, made up of former Israeli and Palestinian combatants, Yonatan struggles to reconcile his love for his country with his growing opposition to the Israeli occupation.

After studying in Spain, Ahmad returned to Bethlehem to become a nonviolence trainer. Despite the daily challenges of living in a refugee camp, Ahmad remains committed to his community and risks his life and livelihood in nonviolent actions to bring an end to oppression.

For their work, Sami and Ahmad have been labeled as “Israeli collaborators” by some within the Palestinian community, and are seen as a threat to security by the Israeli military. By refusing to participate in offensive military actions against Palestinian civilians, Yonatan has been branded a traitor by some Israelis and can no longer work in his homeland.

All three men have had their lives threatened by members of their own communities as a result of their work. Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad continue to embrace their common humanity and equality for all, daring to have the hope that peace in the Holy Land can be achieved through nonviolent struggle.

Comment: I’ll be watching. I certainly applaud brave efforts to seek peace in a part of the world that can be particularly dangerous for peacemakers. Tomorrow night’s event is certainly timely — as Palestinian President Abbas pushes for full United Nations membership for an independent state of Palestine. It’s a concept few oppose in principle, including among my Jewish friends.  But it does seem logical and justified that such recognition would only be bestowed upon a would-be nation that recognizes the right of all U.N. members to exist — something Abbas and his PLO have refused to do regarding Israel.  Would a group that refused to recognize the right of China, Russia, the U.S. or France (or any other country) to even exist be even considered for recognition as a state by the United Nations. I seriously doubt it.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus