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Showcasing Peaceful Efforts to End Mideast Conflict

  • Mohamed Elshinnawi

Just Vision produces documentaries, such as 'Budrus,' which highlights the nonviolent efforts of both Palestinians and Israelis to protest Israel's plan to destroy a Palestinian village by building a separation wall.

Films highlight nonviolent endeavors of Israelis and Palestinians

Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis receive media attention worldwide, but peace builders and nonviolent movements on both sides are frequently invisible.

That's why Ronit Avni, a Jewish American, founded Just Vision in 2003. The non-profit group based in Washington D.C., showcases these efforts through its award-winning films.

"We use media essentially by creating films and multi-media resources highlighting the stories that you do not ordinarily hear about: courageous individuals on both sides of the conflict who are working without arms to end occupation and to work towards peace."

A former Israeli settler, a grieving Palestinian and others on both sides of the conflict are featured in Just Vision's documentary "Encounter Point." They all talk about their commitment to peace despite their losses.

"We focus on their stories, we focus on models of success where people have actually succeeded in changing their circumstances," says Avni.

Just Vision's most recent documentary, "Budrus," has won awards and audiences worldwide.

"It is looking at the direct impact of the occupation on the Palestinian public, but also the power of cooperation, the power of nonviolence to achieve results and the role of women in doing so," says Avni.

The film tells the story of Palestinian community leader Ayed Morrar. He united Budrus, his West Bank village, and worked with Israeli supporters to save the village from destruction by Israel's separation wall. Morrar's daughter, ElTizam, then 15, started the movement when she blocked Israeli bulldozers.

Morrar spoke about the film on a recent visit to Washington

"In Budrus, where we chose the nonviolent struggling, we know it is not an easy way but it is our duty and our right to struggle against the occupation," says Morrar. "Just one month after Budrus, about 15 villages used the same strategy."

"Budrus" received standing ovations from Palestinians in the West Bank and was an eye-opener for Israelis who were unaware of nonviolent initiatives in the occupied territories. Palestinian American Irene Nasser manages Just Vision's Jerusalem office. She believes that, with wider distribution, Just Vision's films can have an even greater impact.

"With the knowledge of all the work that is happening on the ground, I think there will be even larger support and larger push toward peace talks," says Nasser.