Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Promises- Analysis

             Our Academic Leadership class just recently watched the astonishingly informative and groundbreaking Promises,  a documentary put together by B.Z Goldberg,  Carlos Bolado and Stephen Most. The movie, rated an 8 on IMDd and even nominated to the Oscar of best documentary in 2002, tells the story of a group of children, pertaining to different religions and ethnicities, who live a mere 20 min of each other near the city of Jerusalem, Israel. The movie attempts to portray the infamous Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the perspective of children. The ones involved in this production were: Daniel and Yarko, two Non-Orthodox Jewish twins who live in Jerusalem, Shlomo, a devoted Jewish/American who also lives in the city of Jerusalem, Moishe, a Jewish boy who lives just outside the city in an Israeli colony, Sanabel and Faraj, a boy and a girl who live in refugee camps surrounding the city, and Mahmoud, the son of a fairly wealthy, Palestinian coffee-shop owner in Jerusalem.
            Each of the children, because of their infinitely diverse environments, has very different views on the subject. Basing themselves on their relatives' instructions, religion and life experiences, each child shares his/her opinions with the interviewer, B.Z Goldberg.  For instance, when the Jewish boy Moishe shares his thoughts on the subject, he is extremely radical, a form of thinking probably reflected from his father's, a prominent politician in the fight against Palestinians. Faraj, much like Moishe, is also very passionate about his cause. He refers to the death of his close ones and the fact his ancestor's home was destroyed to viciously insult the Jewish. 
         However, in spite of all this friction in the beginning, over the course of 3 years (the time span in which the movie was shot) B.Z is able to incite communication between the children of opposite nationalities. At first, the crew of "Promises" attempted to ask the kids for their opinions on the subject, which led to very different answers. However, over the course of the movie, the interviewer begins proposing hypothetical meetings. Yarko and Daniel, being secular Jews, are the first to consider such idea. Despite being terrified of terrorist attacks, the two boys are very open-minded about the subject and at one point even mention they were "more afraid of devoted Jews than arabs"(Goldberg, Promises).  The next child to open up to the idea of a possible meeting is Sanabel. She claims that communication is key to solve the issue.
         Eventually, Faraj agrees with the idea of a meeting with the twins Yarko and Daniel. Both parties communicate in english, and surprisingly, despite the friction between their respective cultures, end up getting along like most children. When watching that scene, I found surprising how children that only a few minutes back in the movie were disputing over serious political issues, got together and played as if there was nothing going on.
        In order for such an odd yet inspiring event to happen, there had to be much communication. At first, through the interviewer, B.Z, and his crew, the children gained access to each other's realities. This generated a sense of empathy among the children, who then came to, in the most part, understand each other's perspectives and, consequently, open their minds to interaction. For instance, once Faraj and the twins met, Faraj opened himself to the idea that not all Jews are bad. Another example of this is shown in the 1st epilogue to the movie Promises, filmed in 2004. In it, Mahmud, who at first was extremely against interacting with Israelis, tells of how he, upon attending the premier of Promises and meeting the children involved, "stopped being afraid of the jews".
A final example of how communication  helped the children of the movie understand each other, is shown in the 2nd epilogue. In it, Sanabel, Faraj and Yarko talk about how as time went by, communication diminished. Whereas before, the children were able to understand each other's perspectives, they no longer could. For instance, when Sanabel indirectly receives the information that Yarko joined the army, she becomes infuriated. What she did not understand, however, aside from the fact he was forced to do so, was that Yarko felt a sudden urge to serve the country in which he grew up.
      Promises, aside from exploring an interesting and insightful concept, also depicts the importance of communication when dealing with great cultural/political issues like the Isreali-Palestinian conflict. By inciting the communication between both Jewish and Arab children, B.Z and the others responsible, were able to portray a new hypothetical solution the what seems everlasting middle eastern altercation.
Israel/Palestine Conflict: An overview of what is going on currently. (courtesy of BBC News)



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