Last night, I went to see the film, Disturbing the Peace, directed by Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young. This is a film about Combatants forPeace, an organization which has been created by former enemy combatants, Israelis and Palestinians, who have realized that working to end the occupation and to establish a two-state solution is the best way to bring about peace in this part of the world.
This is a documentary film (83 minutes) which attempts to present an even-handed look at two narratives, presented in parallel, beginning with the 1940s – the Holocaust, the declaration of the State of Israel, and the Nakba – a moment in time when the two narratives--the Palestinian one and the Israeli one-- can be seen side-by-side. Then, the stories continue up to the terrible reality of the last 20 years -- the occupation, the terrorist bombings, and repeated wars in Gaza.
The film follows the amazing and compelling stories of personal transformation of some of the leading activists of Combatants for Peace -- Jamil, a Palestinian father from Dehaishe; Avner, an Israeli soldier; Suleiman, a Palestinian fighter from the Al Aksa Brigades of Fatah; and others. These are former enemies who are today working via non-violence during an ongoing armed conflict in order to resist and ultimately to end the conflict. This is certainly not an easy task, and it is not sufficiently appreciated within their communities.
The film makes use of dramatized sequences, mixed together with archival footage, which creates a very effective and hard-hitting experience for the viewer. The reactions from the audience last night were mostly positive. In the discussion following the screening, viewers described the film as “very brave,” “makes me hopeful,” “deeply moving.” When Jamil stood up to speak, he began his remarks with expressing condolences for the terrorist attack that took place here in Jerusalem just the day before. Then he went on to say that “we condemn violence on both sides, on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side.”
According to Avner, the film itself was “created as an invitation to action.” He and the other leaders of this courageous organization clearly see this film--which is being shown in many places in Israel and in Ramallah--as a programming tool for encouraging more people on both sides to join their movement. They offer a new and unique model of non-violent resistance to the current situation, and at the same time they offer hope when despair seems to be all too prevalent in our country and our region.