Little Town of Bethlehem
Thu, October 7, 2010 • 4:00 PM • AVAYA Auditorium (ACES 2.302)
There is no shortage of opinions, emotions, and actions regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. While some are familiar with the issue, and others are personally impacted by it, many more are unaware, uninformed, or unconcerned about this critical issue. Little Town of Bethlehem (http://littletownofbethlehem.org) is a groundbreaking new documentary that shares the gripping story of three men—a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew—born into a cycle of hate, and willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime.
Filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, Little Town of Bethlehem brings awareness to a growing nonviolence movement in the Middle East that seldom makes international headlines.
Sami Awad is a Palestinian Christian whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today, he is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a nonprofit organization that promotes Palestinian independence through peaceful means. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of Israel. Today, he is an outspoken advocate for the nonviolence movement, both in his homeland and abroad. Ahmad Al'Azzah is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzah refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the nonviolence program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism.
Little Town of Bethlehem respectfully shares the incredible stories of Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad. During their individual interviews, all three men reference both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, connecting the Israeli/Palestinian struggle with other historical nonviolence movements that have resulted in the expansion of human rights. The images of these three men standing firm in the face of overwhelming opposition are inspirational; but Little Town of Bethlehem is not just about inspiring viewers. The filmmakers also raise the question, “How will the cycle of violence be finally broken?”
Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by EthnoGraphic Media (EGM), an educational nonprofit organization exploring the critical issues of our time. Other EGM films include Beyond the Gates of Splendor, the award-winning End of the Spear, The Grandfathers, and Miss HIV. Like all EGM films, Little Town of Bethlehem was created to reach a global youth audience; but according to Jim Hanon, the writer and director, Little Town of Bethlehem will connect with any viewer who desires a deeper understanding of conflict resolution. “The major themes in the film are universal and timeless. The desire to end violence through nonviolence is not a demographic phenomenon, though often it is youth who mobilize. The theme of this film is appropriate for anyone who deals with conflict. This hopeful message of equality is for all, as Little Town of Bethlehem doesn’t focus on who is right or who is wrong—but instead on three men from different backgrounds struggling together toward a common goal through nonviolence. We feel that the nonviolent approach promoted by the film is a humanitarian message with the power to transcend religions, nations, politics, languages, and cultures.”