SPOTLIGHT ON THE HOLY LAND
- ABOUT VFHL & HOW ONLINE FILM SALONS OPERATE
- PLACES & PEOPLE FROM PAST FILM SALONS
- FILM SALONS COMING UP IN 2021
- LET’S HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS
PLEASE SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER
ABOUT VFHL AND HOW FILM SALONS OPERATE
Voices from the Holy Land is a coalition of over one hundred interfaith (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Quaker, and Unitarian) and interdenominational organizations. Since the 51-day Gaza bombing in 2014 VFHL has sponsored film presentations at physical locations around the Washington, D.C. area. It had also started spin-off series in six other cities. After most in-person gatherings were closed in March 2020, VFHL turned to an online format. Each month registrants receive a link to watch a film at their convenience. Then, on an assigned Sunday at 3 pm/EST registrants gather via a Zoom link to join with panelists to discuss the film followed by 'Breakout' rooms where smaller gatherings discuss the film. See an archive of our film events.
PLACES & PEOPLE FROM PAST FILM SALONS
(Watch recordings of all VFHL Online Film Salons]
Obaida Jawabra, 17, shot dead by IDF on May 17, 2021
In Matthew Cassel’s documentary Obaida, shown at our December 2020 Online Film Salon [https://bit.ly/3gVTol5 ], then 15-year-old Obaida spoke about his daily fear of the Israeli military as he travelled to school. Like thousands of Palestinian children in the West Bank who are detained or imprisoned under Israeli military law, Obaida had already been imprisoned on four separate occasions for allegedly throwing stones. In May he was shot dead by the IDF in the al-Arroub refugee camp located near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Obaida was shot in the chest, and witnesses say Israeli soldiers blocked an ambulance from reaching the teenager. https://bit.ly/3qrJevA
Israeli authority plans housing development on the “Ruins of Lifta”
In The Ruins of Lifta, Menachem Daum’s documentary shown at our October 2020 Online Film Salon, the filmmaker discovers that his views about Israel/Palestine may have been distorted by his parents’ Holocaust experiences. Lifta, the only Arab village abandoned in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that has not been completely destroyed or repopulated by Jews, is now threatened by an Israeli development plan that would convert it into an upscale Jewish neighborhood. The Israeli land authority is seeking bids for the construction of 259 buildings as well as commercial and business units, including a luxury hotel at the ruins. Lifta was declared as one of 25 endangered sites on the 2018 World Monuments Watch list. It also appears on UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites, which has led to threats from Netanyahu that Israel would withdraw from UNESCO. ,https://bit.ly/3wW3kAs
Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd face eviction from their Sheik Jarrah home
In Rebekah Wingert-Jabi’s 2011 short film Home Front: Portraits From Sheik Jarrah shown at our May 2021 online salon [https://bit.ly/35Tbe1B] we met Mohammed El-Kurd, then a Palestinian teenager forced to give up half his home in Sheik Jarrah to Israeli settlers. In May 2021 the Israeli court’s impending ruling to uphold evictions of families in Sheik Jarrah
in part triggered the 11-day exchange of hostilities between Hamas and Israel. Despite the ceasefire that followed, Mohammed El-Kurd and his neighbors continue to face eviction
in the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. On June 6, 2021 Mohammed and
his twin sister Muna, now prominent Palestinian activists fighting the proposed evictions, were detained by the Israeli police for several hours. https://reut.rs/3A0Kzh7
“We All Live in Gaza” plans screening in Washington, D.C
Maurice Jacobsen, Director/Producer of We All Live in Gaza www.we-gaza.com shown at our February 2021 online salon, is adding a prequel and epilogue to the final edited film to reflect events in Gaza in May of this year. Upon completion of the final edit, a premiere screening, along with a display of Gaza artwork, is being planned for an outdoor presentation in Sept. on the Washington, DC Capitol Mall. The documentary will then be entered for festival and theatrical distribution.
FILM SALONS COMING UP IN THE 3RD QUARTER 2021
In July VFHL will highlight Gaza Fights for Freedom, Abby Martin’s film about the Great March of Return protests between March 2018 and December 2019.
The Q&A discussion is scheduled for July 11 at 3 pm EDT/12 noon PDT with producer Abby Martin and Issa Adwan, Gaza Coordinator for We Are Not Numbers.
This event is co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.
Watch the trailer here: tinyurl.com/FreedomTrailer
In August VFHL will highlight Stitching Palestine. Twelve resilient, determined and articulate Palestinian women from disparate walks of life recall their memories of life before the Diaspora, their dispossession and their unwavering determination that justice will prevail. Their narratives are connected by the enduring thread of the ancient art of embroidery.
The Q&A discussion is scheduled for August 15, 2021 at 3 pm EDT/12 pm PDT with producer Carol Mansour.
This event is co-sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help –St. Louis
Watch the trailer here: tinyurl.com/StitchingTrailer
In September VFHL will highlight Valentino’s Ghost, which explores the ways in which America's foreign policy agenda in the Middle East drives the U.S. media's portrayals of Arabs and Muslims.
The Q&A discussion is scheduled for September 12, 2021 at 3 pm EDT/12 pm PDT with filmmaker Michael Singh.
This event is co-sponsored by Arab America News
Watch the trailer here: tinyurl.com/ValentinoTrailer
LET’S HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS
We would love to know what you’d like to learn from future newsletters or future online film salons. Contact us through the links below.
Any documentaries to suggest? ♦ Any topics/themes you’d like us to consider? ♦ Any panelist or moderator you’d like to hear from? ♦ Would you like to help us to select films, organize screenings or publicize?
Visit us : voicesfromtheholyland.org
Join us: Facebook.com/voicesholyland
Reach us: email@example.com
A Short Bibliography on
Israel & Palestine
This bibliography is meant as a starting point, a listing of books that some have found useful in seeking to better understand the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis
People at the birth of modern Israel, the human side of the story, a good starting place
Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers
Father Elias Chacour is a Catholic priest and the Archbishop of the Melkite Church in Israel. Born in a village in the Galilee, he and his family were expelled in 1948 as part of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces. Father Chacour has stayed in Israel, devoting himself to peace through the education of Palestinian children and working for reconciliation between Palestinians and Jews. This is the memoir of an extraordinary man
Tolan, Sandy, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
The histories of two families, a Bulgarian Jewish family that barely escapes the Holocaust and a Palestinian family forced to flee their home during the establishment of the state of Israel, bound together in a house lived in and loved by both. Meticulous endnotes anchor the human narration firmly in the history and events of the time.
Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire
An essential and well-written book. An Israeli journalist and historian, Gorenberg recaps Zionist History as the preamble to conditions that set up the Occupation of the Palestinian territories post-1967. He then tells the whole tragic story of fanaticism, political cowardice, and failed opportunities. A unique and courageous window into Israeli society and politics.
Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Pappe is an Israeli historian. He is among a group of Jewish revisionist historians called the “New Historians” who have documented the actual actions of Zionist and then Israeli forces at the time of the founding of the State of Israel. This book relies greatly on material from Israeli military archives. It is often emotionally difficult to get through.
Allis & Ronald Rodash, A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel.
This book studies the politics and decision making process that led President Truman to support the founding of the modern state of Israel.
Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World since 1948
Shlaim, Jewish revisionist historian and professor at Oxford, covers in detail relations between Israel and the Arabs from Israel's 1948 War of Independence to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In doing so, he shatters the “David vs. Goliath” view of the conflict so common among Israelis and the West. Criticized for being too simplistic in presenting Arab side of the conflict.
Alice Rothchild, Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience
Dr. Rothchild, a medical doctor who worked throughout the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem shares what she witnessed there and carefully describes how her views evolved because of what she saw.
Brant Rosen, Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity
Shocked by what he read about the 2008 Israeli military campaign in Gaza, American Rabbi Rosen began to publically question his long held "liberal Zionist" beliefs in his blog Shalom Rav.
Miko Peled. The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
In 1997, a tragedy struck the family of Israeli-American Miko Peled: His beloved niece Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber. That tragedy propelled Peled onto a journey of discovery. It pushed him to re-examine many of the beliefs he had grown up with, as the son and grandson of leading figures in Israel’s political-military elite.
Jimmy Carter, Peace Not Apartheid, and We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land
The former president reflects on the actions necessary to bring a true peace to a troubled region he knows well.
Mitri Raheb, I am a Palestinian Christian
Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, he conveys an “active hope” even through the long Israeli military occupation.
Phyllis Benni’, Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer
Helpful to those who want to know the basic story of the conflict. She provides a great deal of information in a very short book – unfiltered by ideological lenses. This is an excellent book for someone who wants a brief but thorough overview.
Rashid Khalidi, Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. has Undermined Peace in the Middle East
Dr. Khalidi has written a relatively short, readable and frankly depressing overview of the more than 35 years of U.S. diplomacy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The noted Columbia University historian provides important empirical evidence and sobering analysis that shatters the mythology that the United States has a genuine desire for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Dr. Naim Ateek, Justice and only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation
This work sets the biblical foundation for Palestine’s liberation theology movement. Dr. Ateek is the Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and founder of Sabeel, an ecumenical and international organization committed to shedding light on the occupation and providing a Christian nonviolent response to it
SELECTED DOCUMENTARY FILMS
Voices Across the Divide - 57 min. Filmmaker Alice Rothchild is an American Jew raised on the tragedies of the Holocaust and the dream of a Jewish homeland in Israel. The film follows her personal journey as she begins to understand the Palestinian narrative while exploring the Palestinian experience of loss, occupation, statelessness, and immigration to the US. The documentary is both a personal journey to understand the Palestinian narrative as well as the implications and contradictions of deeply held cultural beliefs in the Jewish community. Rothchild interviews those who participated in the Nakba – and those affected by it.
Budrus (2009) - 70 min. Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier
Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land (2004) - 80 min. This video shows how the foreign policy interests of American political elites-working in combination with Israeli public relations stratgies-influence US news reporting about the Middle East conflict. Combining American and British TV news clips with observations of analysts, journalists and political activists, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a brief historical overview, a striking media comparison, and an examination of factors that have distorted U.S. media coverage and, in turn, American public opinion.
With God On Our Side (2010) - 82 min. With God On Our Side takes a hard look at the theology and politics of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God's chosen people, Israeli government policies should not be questioned, even when these policies are unjust.
Life in Occupied Palestine - 55 min. Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American Columbia graduate and Fulbright scholar, presents her discoveries as a volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service in the West Bank, documenting human rights abuses and supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. Baltzer's presentation provides those interested in the Israel/ Palestine conflict with critical information and documentation that can be difficult to obtain through mainstream Western media sources, and to encourage dialog towards taking action on the issue. Topics discussed include checkpoints, settlements, Israeli activism, Zionism, 1948 War & refugees, censorship, the Wall, the ongoing annexation of Palestinian land, and the almost unbearable living conditions under the occupation.
Little Town of Bethlehem (2010) - 75 min. The documentary shares the gripping story of three men, born into violence, willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime. A Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew-shaped by events of their Palestinian and Israeli upbringing-find inspiration in the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Sami, Ahmad, and Yonatan believe that violence can indeed be stopped but recognize their own struggles will remain. Yet they will struggle together to discover a common humanity through non-violent action. In the city of Bethlehem where it is said God became man, these men stand alongside others whose central desire is to be accepted and treated as fully human.Their story brings fresh hope to the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel while taking a stand against violence throughout the world.
The People and the Olive - 70 min. What do olive trees mean to Palestinian farmers? Olives are their livelihood, their source of sustenance and the way they root themselves, historically and spiritually, to the land. But Palestinians are denied access to nearly 30 percent of their beloved olive trees in the West Bank as they struggle to live under Israeli military occupation. How do they persevere? And what should the international community understand about Palestinian olive farmers, who love their land and harvest it every season to feed their families — just as farmers across the world do?
On the Side of the Road - 103 min. Filmmaker Lia Tarachansky is a Jew who was born in Kiev. When she was six her family moved to the Ariel settlement in the West Bank. Her mother wanted to contribute to Zionism, Lia said. Tarachansky turns the camera on herself as she revisits settlements and interviews current residents. She says her goal is just to examine and narrate.
Occupation Has No Future - 84 min. Through conversations with Israeli conscientious objectors, former soldiers, and Palestinians living under occupation, Occupation Has No Future creates a survey of the current atmosphere in Israel and the West Bank. The film explores the Israeli social environment that creates heightened militarism and leads to fear and aggression; and examines the consequences of Israeli policies for the Palestinian people as well as for Israeli civil society. Additionally, this documentary looks at the Israeli anti-militarist movement and Israeli youth refusing conscription, refusing orders, and partnering with a growing grassroots Palestinian campaign of civil disobedience against the occupation
Checkpoint - 80 min. Documentary filmmaker Yoav Shamir's depiction of the checkpoints that the Israel Defense Forces man in the Palestinian Authority.
Defamation (2009) - 101 min. Intent on shaking up the ultimate 'sacred cow' for Jews, Israeli director Yoav Shamir embarks on a provocative - and at times irreverent - quest to answer the question, "What is anti-Semitism today?"
Encounter Point - 85 min. Film follows a former Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother and a wounded Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their lives and public standing to promote a nonviolent end to the conflict. Their journeys lead them to the unlikeliest places to confront hatred within their communities. The film explores what drives them and thousands of other like-minded civilians to overcome anger and grief to work for grassroots solutions
Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority - 90 min. A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. political involvement.
Five Broken Cameras - 90 min. When his fourth son, Gibreel, is born, Emad, a Palestinian villager, gets his first camera. In his village, Bil'in, a separation barrier is being built and the villagers start to resist this decision. For more than five years, Emad films the struggle, which is led by two of his best friends, alongside filming how Gibreel grows. Very soon it affects his family and his own life. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers and himself are either shot or arrested. One Camera after another is shot at or smashed, each camera tells a part of his story.
Living under the Occupation: Daily Life in Occupied Palestine - 27 min. A film made by EFA MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) François Alfonsi, Jill Evans and Ana Miranda during their visit to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Promises (2002) -106 min. Several Jewish and Palestinian children are followed for three years and put in touch with each other, in this alternative look at the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. The three filmmakers followed a group of seven local children between 1995 and 1998. These seven children tell their own story about growing up in Jerusalem. When the protagonists speak out in an epilogue a couple of years later, it becomes apparent that all have lost their childlike innocence.
Salt of the Earth: Palestinian Christians in the Northern West Bank (2004) - 193 min. Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders lived in the Christian Palestinian village of Zababdeh from August, 2000, through December, 2003. Volunteers with the Presbyterian Church (USA), their ministry was one of ecumenical support to the Church in the land of its birth. The film documents the lives of nine Palestinian Christians living in the northern West Bank. This film grew out of a desire among their Palestinian neighbors to share their stories, and a desire among Christians in the West to hear them. The Sanders describe the project as "a labor of love, a response to the graciousness, warmth, hospitality, and welcome we received from our Palestinian neighbors and colleagues."
The Colour of Olives - 97 min. Like many Palestinian families, the Amers live surrounded by the infamous West Bank Wall where their daily lives are dominated by electrified fences, locks and a constant swarm of armed soldiers. Constructed with a combination of verité scenes and re-enactments, this poignant and richly crafted film offers its audience a much needed opportunity to reflect on the effects of racial segregation, the meaning of borders and the absurdity of war.
The Gatekeepers - 101 min. A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets
The Law In These Parts (2013) - 105 min. What is legal and what is just? The wide gap between the two is explored meticulously by this Israeli investigation of the legal structure created after the 1967 Six Days War, specifically to treat the West Bank and Gaza Strip as occupied territories. Speaking with some of Israel’s most respected lawyers and judges – men who helped to craft and later interpret these laws – filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz asks tough, pointed questions and gets even tougher answers. He asks his subjects to consider the consequences of their actions in a highly politicized environment. This documentary takes the position that unjust laws create unjust realities. Laws that everyone admits are not perfect but are the best that can be done under difficult circumstances may result in tragedy for everyone: both the judges and the judged.This film is winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Sundance and Jerusalem Film Festivals.
It's Better to Jump - 75 min. There is a centuries-old seawall in the ancient port of Akka, located on Israel's northern coast. Today, Akka is a modern city inhabited by Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Baha'i, but its history goes all the way back to rule of the Egyptian Pharaohs. Young people dare to stand atop the 40' one-meter thick block structure and risk their fate by jumping into the roiling sea. This perilous tradition has continued for many generations, and has become a rite of passage for the children of Akka. "It's Better to Jump" is about the ancient walled city of Akka as it undergoes harsh economic pressures and vast social change. The film focuses on the aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian inhabitants who call the Old City home.
Home Front – Portraits From Sheikh Jarrah - Getting beyond the sensational headlines and broad generalizations that normally dominate discussions of Jerusalem, Home Front captures voices rarely heard, of those struggling to stop settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and build a future of pluralism and equality in the city. Featuring the accounts of a Palestinian teenager forced to give up half his home to Israeli settlers, an American-born Israeli mother who gets drawn into the demonstrations after her children’s arrest, a Palestinian community organizer who brings local women to the forefront of the struggle, and a veteran of the Israeli army who becomes one of the campaign’s leaders, Home Front chronicles the resolve of a neighborhood, and the support it receives from the most unexpected of places.
Censored Voices - The 1967 'Six-Day' war ended with Israel's decisive victory; conquering Jerusalem, Gaza, Sinai and the West Bank. It is a war portrayed, to this day, as a righteous undertaking - a radiant emblem of Jewish pride. One week after the war, a group of young kibbutzniks, led by renowned author Amos Oz, recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the battlefield. The recording revealed an honest look at the moment Israel turned from David to Goliath. The Israeli army censored the recordings, allowing the kibbutzniks to publish only a fragment of the conversations. 'Censored Voices' reveals the original recordings for the first time.
Teaching Ignorance - 2015, 52 Minutes. This powerful film follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers over the course of an academic year. It asks: How do the Palestinian, Israeli Arab, and Israeli Jewish educational systems teach the history of their peoples? By observing teachers, the film shows us their exchanges and confrontations with students as they transmit the values of religion, politics, and nationalism in the classroom. In Teaching Ignorance, educators from all sides of the conflict debate their peoples’ official curriculum, wrestling with is restrictions. This film offers an intimate glimpse into the profound and long-lasting effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict transmits to the next generation.
Episcopal Diocese of Washington Companion Diocese Committee for Jerusalem www.edow.org/ministries/overseas/jerusalem/
Episcopal Peace Fellowship/Palestine Israel Network: http://epfnational.org/PIN
Episcopal Public Policy Network: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/eppn
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: http://www.j-diocese.org/.Kids4Peace: http://www.k4p.org
American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: http://www.afedj.org
American Friends Service Committee: http://www.afsc.org/office/palestine
Churches for Middle East Peace: www.cmep.org
World Council of Churches: http://www.oikoumene.org (search “Middle East”)
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel – US: http://www.eappi-us.org/
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: http://www.elca.org/middleeast/,
Peace Not Walls http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Peace-Not-Walls.aspx
Presbyterian Church (USA), Israel Palestine Mission Network: http://www.theipmn.org/
United Methodist Kairos Response: https://www.kairosresponse.org
Resources (Washington DC)
The following organizations host numerous interesting events related to Israel and Palestine:
Foundation for Middle East Peace: http://www.fmep.org/
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/events/
Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University: http://ccas.georgetown.edu/
The Jerusalem Fund: http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/
New America Foundation:http://www.newamerica.net/
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/
Electronic Intifada http://electronicintifada.net/
Ha’aretz (Israeli daily): http://www.haaretz.com/ (subscription)
Institute for Middle East Understanding: http://imeu.net/
Ma’an News Agency: http://www.maannews.net/eng/
M.J. Rosenberg: http://mjayrosenberg.com
Palestine Monitor: http://www.palestinemonitor.org
Philip Weiss: http://mondoweiss.net/
Rabbi Brian Walt: http://rabbibrian.wordpress.com/
This Week in Palestine (monthly): http://www.thisweekinpalestine.com/
Tikun Olam: http://www.richardsilverstein.com/
Adalah (Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israeli): http://www.adalah.org/eng/
Americans for Peace Now: http://www.peacenow.org
B’tselem (Israeli Info. Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories): http://www.btselem.org
Friends of Sabeel, North America: http://www.fosna.org
Jewish Voice for Peace: http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
Kairos Palestine: http://www.kairospalestine.ps/Kairos USA: http://www.kairosusa.org
Tent of Nations: http://www.fotonna.org
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights: http://uscpr.org/
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: http://www.ochaopt.org/
Who Profits?: www.whoprofits.org