A documentary film entitled “The Little Town of Bethlehem” based on the lives of three men who witness the overwhelming violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is now debuting at American universities.
|More than 100 people attended the film screening of “The Little Town of Bethlehem” at Wayne State. Photo: Natasha Dado/TAAN|
Film director Jim Hanon said he hopes audiences become more informed on differing views on the conflict after watching the film, which he says shows both sides of the story. “There’s a growing misunderstanding between the Arab and the Western world, and that’s what sort of began our project. In the United States at least, they really understand the Jewish narrative, they don’t understand the Palestinian narrative,” Hanon said.
On Sept. 28 over 100 people attended the screening of the film at Wayne State University’s Welcome Center. The film’s crew and cast members were present at the event, which was hosted by the Kensington Mega Church of Troy. “Little Town of Bethlehem” is an EthnoGraphic Media (EGM) film. According to an EGM representative, the film is scheduled to premiere at 120 colleges and eventually reach 500.
“At times we find audiences know one side of the narrative. Audiences say ‘I haven’t heard that perspective as a Palestinian,’ ‘I haven’t heard an Israeli Jew say those things,'” EGM President Bill Oechsler said. Awad says he hopes the film creates debates between Americans and prompts them to put more pressure on the U.S. government to engage the peace process.
Awad is the executive director of the Holy Land Trust (HLT), a non-profit that promotes Palestinian independence. “The most important thing that people need to understand here is that there is both groups of Palestinians and Israelis that are engaged in nonviolence resistance,” Awad said.
Shapira was a helicopter pilot for the Israeli Army until he signed a declaration refusing to fly missions that could result in civilian casualties. Ahmad Al’Azzeh heads the non-violence program at the HLT and trains others in peace activism.
“What’s interesting for me is that when the Jewish community sees this film they are very much interested in what I and Ahmad have to say as Palestinians, and when Arabs and Palestinians see the film they look at Yonatan, an Israeli Jew and find real answers and are really inspired by what he has to say,” Awad said.
In the film the three narrators discuss the impact human rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi had on them.
“We were fascinated when all three of our interviewees in the film referenced Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi,” Hanon said.
Awad emphasized the importance of dialogue in resolving the conflict.
“In their side of the story there is the solution for our story as well. The way we listen, address and engage in actions based on how we hear their story will allow us to engage in actions to achieve the liberation we seek as Palestinians,” Awad said.