RESISTANCE CINEMA presents “THE BILLBOARD FROM BETHLEHEM” Produced and directed by Bruce Barrett,
I Wage Peace.org 2009, 63 minutes
WHEN: Sunday April 4th, 1:15PM
WHERE: Community Church of NYC, Gallery Room, 28 East 35th st. @ Park Ave,
ADMISSION: Free; donations appreciated
SPECIAL GUEST: Mindy Gershon of WOMEN IN BLACK will lead a post dcreening discussion.
The Israeli Palestinian conflict continues to tear at the hearts and minds of people far beyond its borders as it reverberates throughout the region and the world. The intensity of its anguish and passion is one of the great human dramas of the last half century. And yet, out of what at times seems to be a permanent state of the most utter hopelessness and despair can emerge people of extraordinary courage and vision. They ignite a spark of hope that illuminates the darkness and reveals that the bitterest, most dehumanized of enemies is a human being just as oneself and in fact has a face.
The owner of an American billboard company, Bruce Barrett, is intrigued by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian resistance fighters who have joined together to renounce violence and formed an organization called COMBATANTS FOR PEACE. They are members of the Israeli Defense Force that refused to go on duty in the occupied territories and former Palestinian resistance fighters who are eager to pursue Gandhian nonviolence as a means of gaining statehood. He sets to work on getting onto film their powerful stories of personal transformation.
Members of both sides needed to overcome grief and distrust – one Palestinian member talks frankly of his young daughter being killed by Israeli soldiers while an Israeli speaks of his teenage sister’s death in a suicide bomber attack. The group’s efforts were met with mild support by the Palestinian leadership and complete indifference from the Israeli government.
Out of this environment the idea is born to bring together Israeli and Palestinian children to paint a huge mural for peace that eventually becomes a billboard on an American highway. The project is finally realized and the billboard, measuring 14 feet high and 48 feet long, is painted on Saturday May 26th 2007 at the Everest Hotel, in Beit Jala, outside Bethlehem. It then is brought to a mosque, a synagogue, and a church.
The Israeli Children painting the signs were members of youth peace organizations.
"We have invited our children to paint with the Palestinian children to show them how we in Combatants for Peace bridge controversies and act together towards our common goal", says Avner Wishnitzer – Israeli Coordinator.
The Palestinian children are
"the sons of the Palestinian martyrs, orphans, children of very poor families...who used to see the Israelis as soldiers and occupiers. We will bring them to let the Israeli children meet them and to feel their suffering, also to give them the chance to know that there are Israeli children who are willing to live in peace with them," explains Palestinian member of Combatants for Peace, Sulaiman Al Hamr
From the website of COMBATANTS FOR PACE www.combatantsforpeace.org
WE no longer believe that the conflict can be resolved through violence
WE believe that the blood bath will not end unless we act together to terminate the occupation and stop all forms of violence.
WE call for the establishment of a Palestinian State, alongside the State of Israel. The two states can exist in peace and security one by the other.
WE will use only non violent means to achieve our goals and call for both societies to end violence.