Opposing Stories, A Common Goal
Working to foster reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians who are separated by how they see and interpret their shared history, the joint Israeli-Palestinian nonprofit Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF) operates under the motto of “It won’t stop until we talk.”
In that spirit, the group has produced “Two Sided Story,” a documentary that explores the experiences and attitudes of 27 Palestinians and Israelis who have been touched by the decades of conflict in the region.
PCFF is a unique organization made up of more than 600 bereaved families, half Israeli and half Palestinian. The members of this organization – all of whom have lost a family member to the conflict – have undertaken a joint effort in the midst of ongoing violence to transform their incredible loss and pain into a catalyst for reconciliation and peace.
The participants, also part of the PCFF program “History Through the Human Eye,” offer their personal experiences intertwined with interpretations of historical and political events, touching on subjects such as the Nakba, the Holocaust, the Occupation, bereavement, suicide bombing, the Israel Defense Forces, the Separation Barrier, and more.
“By listening deeply to one another's personal stories, rather than arguing over political views, these participants slowly begin to connect and see each other as people first,” say Parents Circle leaders, ”rather than enemies.”
Organizers say this opening to empathy, understanding of the other's narrative, changing attitudes and perspectives can set the ground for overcoming the emotional obstacles and fears for a more meaningful dialogue and eventual advancement of the political process. In keeping with the spirit of the project, the PCFF staff is made up of both Israelis and Palestinians.
The documentary captures personal motivations and journeys through anger, mistrust, offering insight on love, respect and reconciliation. The narratives explore how stereotypes are eroded and trust develops through sharing personal and national stories and by dealing with the difficult issues that arise.
The group has produced a shorter version of the film for use in educational sessions with Israeli and Palestinian adults. By the end of 2013, PCFF held more than 70 screenings of the film in Israel and Palestine and more than 50 screenings internationally.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Non-Governmental Organizations.