The film Promises (2001) is considered one of the best documentaries ever made about the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. Winning more than 10 awards from various International Festivals, the film is guided by B.Z. Goldberg, one of the filmmakers. He shows a unique perspective on the subject when interviewing and showcasing the lives of 7 children, each one living 20 minutes from each other and with a massive difference of opinions and beliefs.
Yarko and Faraj.
Yarko and Daniel Solan, twins that are inhabitants of West Jerusalem, and grandsons from a Jewish holocaust survivor. Their family are all very secular and religion does not imposes a huge impact on their lives.They do not face any problems when passing checkpoints since they were Jew, and this possibly created a lack of awareness of what is the situation for others, especially without any communication. Faraj Adnan Hassan Husein is a son of Palestinian refugees, and occupier of the Deheishe refugee camp in the West Bank. Faraj had a friend killed in his childhood, and that left bitter remarks of how relentless the opposition can be. This feeling growed with him, but was soon dissolved with the group interaction the kids experienced. Sanabel Hassan also lives in the Deheishe camp, and her father was in prison because he was coercing in favor of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Her brother died in a heart stroke, and also have been to prison. Her input during the group talk shows very positive aspects remarking that there should be more discussions among the children so they could find any solution. Mahmoud Mazen Mahmoud Izhiman lives in the Palestinian quarter in East Jerusalem and is a son of a coffee merchant. He believes that the lands are property of the arabs and recites passages from the Koran to justify his affirmations. Shlomo Green is an ultra-orthodox son of a Jewish rabbi, living in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. He does not have to attend to military and lives in a secluded space, without any interactions with the population who have different opinions. Moishe Bar am lives in Belt-El in the West-Bank and dislikes the Arabs. There is clearly a very strong influence of tradition from his family and from their religion that changed his perspective towards palestinians radically.
Yarko soon becomes attached to Faraj, and that is possible because religion and tradition did not had any great effect on their lives. An excellent contrast we have is Schlomo, who refused to join the meeting and favoring isolation from exterior factors. Sanabel’s attitude in spite of having heartbreaking things happening to her should be taken into notice, and made me feel more concerned with others. Even after growing, her interview (second video) shows her concern with the overall safety of the area she lives and the ones around her. There is also Yarko’s interview, with him now being in the military, and now that he is obliged and forced to cooperate with the state, he says that it does not matter his opinion, and that he is just a soldier where he obeys orders.
Living in areas where violence and prejudice are rampant is a reality all the kids mentioned face daily. This not only generates insecurities but also leads to a greater xenophobia against those who are deemed with different beliefs, traditions, and cultures.The lack of communication between Palestinians and Jews creates another barrier to overcome. As Charles Colton once said: “We hate some persons because we do not know them, and we will not know them because we hate them.” Goldberg’s idea to create a discussion place free of oppression, where the kids could openly talk about their ideas and possible solutions is most likely the best approach. By communicating, they were able to see and have a much better idea of how and why they were acting in a certain way, and to understand the opposite perspective.
Never have I been so attached and understanding to a documentary. The problems I face daily are literally nothing compared to what they endure. This really opened my global awareness and made me understand how inappropriate it is to presume there is a proper defined solution for this issue.