Opinions range from one extreme to the other on how to find “peace in the Middle East.” Many Christians actually think peace is impossible since the great prophetic clock is ticking down day-by-day to the return of Christ. Others, especially among some liberal critics, think the single solution is for Israel to stop its unjust practices and cease to be a state at all. Still others see the political solution in a “two-state” formula that recognizes a Palestinian State. I share this view politically but I think this process is far more complex than any single political solution.
A recently released DVD, Little Town of Bethlehem, brings forward a different approach, that of a growing non-violent movement modeled on the approach of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the leaders of the non-violent approach is Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today Sami Awad is the executive director of the Holy Land Trust, a non-profit organization that promote Palestinian independence through entirely peaceful means. This moving film is the story of Sami’s faithful attempts to follow the way of Jesus in seeking peace.
Sami is helped by Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of the Israeli nation. Today Yonatan is an outspoken advocate for nonviolence, both in his homeland and beyond. And Ahmad Al’Azzah is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzah refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the nonviolent program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism. The story of each of these men is told on this film.
The film raises one primary question: “Can the cycle of violence be broken?” The answer is that it can but only by using the methods of peace, not war.
The film was produced with a younger audience in mind and hopes to help the next generation embrace a new model in the Middle East, the one least tried and most like the way of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. You can see a trailer of this film and understand something of the power of this story. The film does not set out to focus on who’s right and wrong in the Middle East but rather to offer a new, almost completely untried, way. Let us all “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” This film will promote the truth of that prayer and give you new hope as a believer.