The Good News…The Bad News…

First, the good news:

In a pleasant contrast to the upcoming RESPECT university tour OneVoice is coming to SOAS, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham and Cambridge Universities next month. OneVoice is a:

“non-partisan, grassroots, Middle East conflict resolution organization. It is run by, and works equally with, Israelis and Palestinians through offices in Tel Aviv and Ramallah and an international base in New York. It works to amplify voices of moderation – empowering them to fight against violent extremism and to seize back the agenda for conflict resolution.”

• Over 100,000 Israelis and Palestinians have taken part in our Civilian Negotiations Program, breaking barriers and finding consensus where they thought it impossible.
• OneVoice youth leaders encouraged to participate in the Palestinian municipal elections. OneVoice youth leader Lina Ishtaieh was the most popular and youngest candidate elected.
•OneVoice’s Israeli office has built an unprecedented coalition amongst the youth wings of all seven of Israel’s largest political parties, affirming principles of non-violence, democracy and supporting OneVoice’s work for a popular mandate for peace.

OneVoice will run a mass campaign [during the Israeli and Palestinian elections] using our existing infrastructure of support within the media, political and religious leaders, civil society institutions and our expansive network of volunteers. We will encourage people not just to vote, but to do so on the basis of long-term goals rather than short term fears.

The Board of OneVoice includes Dr. Mahmoud Labadi, Director General of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Palestinian Islamic Chief Justice Sheik al-Tamimi, seven members of the Israelis Knesset including representatives of each of the major political parties and, in the UK, the Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks and Sheikh Dr. Zaki Badawi of the Muslim College.

Now the bad news:

If you’ve not been following the controversy over “Paradise Now“, a film which has been significantly funded by German public agencies, and which seeks to promote “mbunderstanding” of the supposed perspective of a Palestinian suicide bomber, you should do.

The film, which was awarded the prize for the Best European Film at the Berlin Film Festival 2005, is now being marketed as “a bold new call for peace”. But that’s not how its critics see it:

In the movie, all Israelis are evil perpetrators, and all Palestinians are good-natured victims. The terrorist propaganda that is portrayed remains uncontradicted and gets integrated into this dichotomous framework. Thus, the designated suicide bomber Khaled legitimates his actions with the argument that Israel “[does not want to] accept any two-state solution.” The Palestinians, he maintains, have “exhausted every political means” to achieving this goal. Because they have gotten nowhere, there is no longer an alternative to suicide bombings.

The German federal government’s Central Office for Political Education is promoting the film to schools who are encouraged to take children of fourteen years or more, to see it. But they’re clearly just a little bit worried that some kids might get the “wrong” message from it too…

“If teachers discuss the film critically, this could prevent students of Turkish or Arab origin from watching it in a naive way. Thus, the basis for their possible need to identify with the main characters will be removed.”

(Hat tip: Engage)