Talking Peace

Director Mark Freeman says: "The cycle of violence in the Middle East may seem to have no end, but in San Diego Jews and Palestinians have united despite the odds. Talking Peace takes viewers inside the Jewish Palestinian Living Room Dialogue and tells a compelling story of two sides coming together through the simple act of listening."

0:12Copy video clip URL Color bars.

1:32Copy video clip URL Talking Peace title card.

1:51Copy video clip URL Black-and-white footage of Jerusalem and both Jewish and Palestinian refugees plays as a commentator gives an introductory overview to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

2:39Copy video clip URL Video switches to color. In San Diego, citizens gather on the streets to protest Israeli actions regarding Palestine. 

2:50Copy video clip URL In their home, Jim Rauch and Doris Bittar create a Jewish-Palestinian living room dialogue group to listen to and break down barriers between one another.

3:32Copy video clip URL George Khoury, Miko Peled, Jamal Kanj, Jim Rauch, Doris Bittar, and Rabbi Moshe Levin all speak, discussing the night’s topic: Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. Afterward, the guests mingle chatting with one another.

5:30Copy video clip URL Doris Bittar, while working on her art, discusses the efforts of talking peace and her artistic process. “I think that’s the key. A Jewish story can stand right next to a Palestinian story. An Israeli story can stand right next to an Arab story, and maybe strengthen each other and not negate each other.”

6:20Copy video clip URL Back at the dinner party, Martin Stern speaks on his personal history as a Jewish emigrant during World War II. Black-and-white footage of a German broadcast plays. 

7:24Copy video clip URL Jamal Kanj finds similarities between himself and Stern, providing his own history, particularly the time he spent as a child in Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp. 

8:17Copy video clip URL Stern says he doesn’t necessarily see himself as a holocaust survivor, and mentions Israel as a “place of refuge for Jews that are not wanted elsewhere.”

8:39Copy video clip URL Rabbi Moshe Levin talks about growing up in Brooklyn in a “modern Orthodox setting with strong Zionist families.”

9:13Copy video clip URL Nader Elbanna explains the familial wealth he was born into. Rabbi Levin talks about the Israeli history of partitioning the land. Elbanna talks about his experience during the civil war that resulted and the closing of the border, describing his experiences in a refugee camp. Rabbi Levin says many Israelis, including himself, lived under the impression that the refugee camps were propaganda tools of the surrounding Arab nations. Elbanna talks about a recent visit to Nazareth, where he was able to see the room where he was born and received a key to his grandfather’s house, showing that very key to the camera. Rabbi Levin talks about his past, hostile view toward Arabs and Palestinians shattering and relearning narratives upon learning new information about Israeli conduct during the nation’s formation and civil wars. 

13:14Copy video clip URL Kanj tells the story of a large air strike he experienced in a refugee camp, in which a friend of his and another six-year-old child he knew perished. Peled notes that Israeli sentiment denies events like this and the pain in learning the narrative of another side.

14:30Copy video clip URL Elbanna recounts a story of a friend dying while serving in the Jordanian army.

15:10Copy video clip URL Peled shares the story of his niece, Smadar Elhanan’s, death during a suicide bombing event on September fourth, 1997. Footage of the event plays. Rami Elhanan, Smadar’s father, recounts his daughter’s disappearance, learning of his daughter’s death, the inclination toward hate in the wake of tragedy, and the path of understanding and reconciliation.

18:05Copy video clip URL Afaf Elbanna talks about hearing Elhanan’s story and how knowing his personal tragedy allowed her to find shared sorrow with him despite her hatred for Israel. Elhanan discusses his aim to end the cycle of violence.

19:25Copy video clip URL Bittar goes over her reaction to Peled’s story and knowing that the family desires peace.

20:05Copy video clip URL Kanj and Rabbi Levin talk about how to best conduct a dialogue between different sides.

20:33Copy video clip URL The women of the group including Neta Bourlas, Haifa Khoury, and Jean Seager take the lead in discussion one night, talking about women’s cultural roles.

21:32Copy video clip URL Peled talks about his first meeting, both the topic of ideal solutions to the conflict and others’ suspicions of him and his motivations for joining the group. Elbanna explains his initial thought that Peled was a spy and the dialogue that sparked out of it. 

22:58Copy video clip URL Peled and Bassemah Darwish talk about the importance of dialogue. “It humanizes people that are on the other side,” Darwish notes.

23:31Copy video clip URL Jean Seager adds to the dialogue conversation, also bringing up internal resistance to the group or fear about engaging, a sentiment Meir Nawy and Elbanna add onto. Elbanna talks about connecting with others through fear. Rabbi Levin shares a joke about Tamiric education, and talks about the truth he sees in it.

25:08Copy video clip URL Stern points out that “we are all capable of intolerance. We have to fight it and we have to fight it mostly in ourselves.” Rabbi Levin asks the question about which paths to take going forward, while Bittar explains her more nebulous and constantly changing attitude toward solutions. 

26:22Copy video clip URL Kanj explains what dialogue means to him in building community. Peled advocates for peace. Rabbi Levin talks about wanting to live life to the fullest with love, understanding, and joy. Elbanna introduces his grandson, Salaam, whose name means “peace.”

28:01Copy video clip URL Credits.



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