Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Two-Sided Story": listening to the other

The Parents Circle-Families Forum--an Israeli/Palestinian dialogue and grief group composed of people who have lost family members in the conflict was featured in the film, "Encounter Point" (2006), and is again featured in "Two-Sided Story."  There are some who believe that such reconciliation groups are creating "normalization" when the conflict is still ongoing, a false personal peace; I hold with those who see such groups as laying the groundwork for a truly intercultural society which would include Israelis and Palestinians as full citizens.

In the film, Emmy award director, Tor Ben Mayor follows a group of 27 Palestinians and Israelis who meet under the frame of a unique project called "History through the Human Eye" led by Parents Circle-Families Forum - bereaved Palestinian and Israelis for Peace and Reconciliation. The project's goal is to acknowledge the narrative of the other. Together they create the conflict mosaic. Among them include Bereaved families, Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims, settlers, ex soldiers in the Israeli army, ex security prisoners, citizens of the Gaza strip, kibbutz members, second generation holocaust survivors, non violent activists and more. Each and every one holds his own historical truth, and carries with him his own emotional baggage.
They are not trying to convince each other that their narrative is right, nor are they seeking a political solution. They have simply been asked to listen, to clarify the differences between how they grasp reality and how they see the other side. The participants offer us an insight into their inner world; they share their personal experiences along with historical and political interpretation to key events in the conflict: The Nakba, the Holocaust, Occupation, bereavement, suicide bombing, Israeli army, the separation wall etc.
Will the group, in spite of the gaps and the natural tendency to stick to their former views, accept the reality that is reflected in the mirror of their colleagues? The same colleagues who outside are allegedly defined as their enemy?

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