What would make a Palestinian man, who hated Jews with a passion, embrace a former Israeli soldier as his brother? Why would an Israeli woman, whose son was brutally attacked, look at his assailants with forgiveness in her eyes?
How is it possible that in one of the world’s most volatile regions, a small group of Israeli and Palestinian children play together, unaware that they should be enemies? The first two of these questions were explored in this edition’s lead article. Several similar inquiries are examined in Forbidden Peace: the Story Behind the Headlines, a brand new video and DVD.
Forbidden Peace offers a bold new perspective on the Middle East conflict, one that is sure to raise some eyebrows. The central claim to the documentary-style film is that lack of peace in the Middle East is not a political or social predicament, but a spiritual one. The Israelis and Palestinians profiled in Forbidden Peace all maintain that they have found peace with one another by finding peace with God through Jesus – faith traditionally forbidden to both groups of people.
The opening footage of violent images from the Middle East is effectively juxtaposed with faces and voices full of hope, as the viewer is introduced to Tass, a former PLO Fatah fighter; Rahel, an Israeli who hosts gatherings of Israelis and Palestinians in her home regularly; Shmuel, an Arab man who leads a messianic Jewish congregation,1 just to name a few. Most moving are the segments involving Lisa, whose son Asaf was savagely beaten while serving in the IDF and Abigail, a young believer in Yeshua who was killed by a suicide bomber. Both stories can be seen as tests of faith and one cannot help but be impressed at the way those featured hold fast to their beliefs in the midst of crisis.
From a technical perspective, Forbidden Peace is skillfully filmed and scripted. One can either argue that some of the content is repetitive or conversely, that the stories’ similar themes serve to reinforce the position of the film. One thing is for sure: these words and faces will be difficult to dismiss.
There are those who will approach this film with skepticism, and given the numerous peace plans proposed, it’s no wonder. However, a companion study guide called Forbidden Peace: an Invitation to Recall, Reflect and Respond allows viewers to delve deeper into the ideas presented in the film.
Broken into six chapters plus introduction and conclusion, the booklet raises such questions as, “What is the origin of conflict?”; “Why do our attempts at peace fail?”; “If Jesus is the Messiah then why isn’t there peace on earth?”; and “Is peace through Yeshua worth risking relationships?” The study guide makes for challenging, thought-provoking reading.
The current Middle East situation demands that we consider any possible antidote to the violence that threatens the region. The solution presented in Forbidden Peace is not a quick fix; it’s not a national resolution, but a personal conclusion that will take time and courage. But after all, are we not in times that call for courage?
A congregation comprised of Jewish and non-Jewish people who believe Jesus is the Messiah.