Video “Narratives” Give Personal Dimension To Israel-Palestine Conflict
“An enemy is a person whose story you haven’t heard.”
– Irene Butter, Holocaust survivor
The Israel-Palestine conflict has constantly been in the media for the past several years. In July, we’ve seen a new set of disturbing pictures and news coming out from Gaza. And we have all read about the ongoing fighting, the latest developments, the peace missions, and the official statements. But…
- …do we really understand what the conflict means to the people who are affected?
- …are we aware that for many Palestinians, checkpoints have become a normal part of their lives?
- …do we know that nearly all Israelis have to go through a strenuous and potentially traumatizing military service?
In April 2014, Melton Fellows Julian Klauke and Cornelia Blum – as part of the Melton Foundation’s “Narratives” project – went to the region to understand and document the reality. They wanted to go beyond what they read in the news and understand the meaning of living in a place of constant conflict.
The project team Narratives records and exchanges personal narrative videos of people affected by the conflict, with the aim of fostering empathy and understanding. The foundation of Project Narratives is openness to knowing the personal sides of the story coupled with strong social psychological research.
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, an Israeli NGO that promotes peace through environmental education helped Julian and Cornelia get in touch with people from the region who were willing to share their personal stories in front of a camera.
What did they learn?
Yaron, an Israeli army reservist, and his views on the military service in Israel: “The service is just very hard, it takes a lot out of you, it’s emotionally stressful, it’s physically stressful, it’s a hard thing to do.”
24-year-old Ala’a talks about the Israeli occupation of Palestine: “the occupation affected my relationship with other Palestinians.”
Ali has two homes — while he is a Palestinian from Jerusalem, members of his family are not allowed in Jerusalem “What happened made my family having two homes, one in Jerusalem and one in West Bank.
37-year-old Assaf gives a positive message: “Sure I have hope. If I didn’t have hopes, I wouldn’t be here.”
The 14 video interviews are now being processed by the project team to form a short documentary film that will be available online and will be screened at different events. Further, this documentary can be used as teaching material for peace education both inside and outside the Middle East.
“I hope that with the material we have, we can not only understand the situation better but also change it – be it only by a tiny, little bit,” says Julian Klauke overwhelmed after the intense learning experience during his stay in Israel and Palestine.
Neli adds, “I actually didn’t know that much about the conflict in Israel and Palestine before going there and so I didn’t know what to expect by traveling to the region. Being in Israel and Palestine showed me that the conflict is so complex that from the outside one cannot understand what it means to live in this situation.” Listening to personal stories from the people affected made me think about the reality they live in. Until now this topic about the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis continues to capture my attention everyday… The people I met, the stories I heard, the atmosphere I felt were so impressive for me that I am sure I want to keep working with middle-east conflict related topics.”