Do you know what is the longest ongoing military conflict in the World? I think it did not take you a long time to guess: the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians started in the mid-20th century, and nobody knows for how long it will continue.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a group-wide existential struggle between two parties fighting for the survival of their nations. Even though I have learned a lot about the conflict from Israeli and Palestinian TV, newspapers and classes, I have never looked at it from the perspective of the most innocent victims of these politics—Palestinian and Israeli children. However, after watching movie “Promises” (directed by B.Z. Goldberg), I got to know more about the complexities of the conflict.
The movie, “Promises” is a shocking account evidencing the intolerance, injustice and broken relationships still existing in 21st century. The movie makes clear that Palestinians and Israelis have different stories of to whom should Jerusalem belong. God’s promises are viewed differently by Muslims and Jews, making religion a central divider rather than a connector. This corrosive rather than constructive role of religion prevents Palestinian and Israeli children from being friends and from ever learning from one another.
Moreover, the movie highlights injustice. On the one hand, it is very unjust for thousands of Palestinians to wander in their own land as refugees; indeed, the overall number of Palestinian refugees might be as high as 5 million (UNRWA, 2012). The movie shows Palestinian children, who live in refugee camps just 20 minutes far from Jerusalem, unable to get there due to checkpoints.
On the other hand, it is also important to try to understand the perspective of Israeli people. It is not news that Jews have suffered a lot throughout history and want to have their own land, as it was promised by God to his chosen people: ” Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:12).
In my opinion, that movie is a great tool to raise awareness of today’s intolerance, injustice and religious extremism in Holy Land. Personally, the most striking moment of the movie was to see a Palestinian girl who is very open to meeting Israeli children. She understands that children are pure of heart, and that they are not responsible for what their political authorities, religious leaders or parents impose on them.
Being an intern in WYAME, I have learned that recognizing and respecting human dignity is crucial for peace. However, it is very challenging to create a culture of mutual respect in such a conflict-ridden area, because it would require everyone’s commitment to live in solidarity with each other. “Promises” revealed that Israeli and Palestinian children were actually able to become friends after getting to know each other on personal level, and that critical thinking allows for them to apply what they hear from school and parents to innocent children of other religions and nationalities.
Thus, the movie proves that there is a hope for the Holy Land to live in peace. A significant change will be possible when more and more young people open their eyes and realize that “the other” is also a human being as he/she is. I highly recommend you to watch this movie, and ask yourself what these children have undergone to grow up surrounded with such hatred for their neighbors.
Written by Alena Kalodzitsa , a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance, Middle East.