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Film tries to facilitate conversation toward reconciliation in Israel-Palestine

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, located at Bethel College, will kick off its annual spring film series Feb. 16, with the 2012 release Two Sided Story.

The 75-minute documentary screens at 3:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center. The film is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the work of KIPCOR.

In Two Sided Story, Emmy Award-winning director Tor Ben Mayor follows a group of 27 Palestinians and Israelis who meet within the framework of a unique project called “History through the Human Eye,” led by Parents Circle Families Forum-Bereaved Palestinians and Israelis for Peace and Reconciliation.

The project’s goal is “to acknowledge the narrative of the other and together create the conflict mosaic.” Among the participants are bereaved families, Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims, settlers, ex-Israeli army soldiers, ex-security prisoners, citizens of the Gaza Strip, kibbutz members, second-generation Holocaust survivors, nonviolent activists and more.

“This is a sort of follow-up to the series we ran several years ago on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and should provide a hopeful antidote to what otherwise seems like a terrible Gordian knot,” said Kirsten Zerger, KIPCOR director of education and training. “The unique dialogue process/program shown in the film brings together Palestinians and Israelis simply to share and listen to each other’s stories, as a peacebuilding and reconciliation effort.

“This approach to reconciliation and conflict resolution is very similar to much of the work we do here at KIPCOR, with deep listening and narrative dialogue at its core.”

The audience will be able to process what they have just seen in a talk-back session after the film with facilitator Patty Shelly, Bethel professor of Bible and religion. Shelly lived in East Jerusalem for four years in the 1990s and has led numerous study trips to Israel-Palestine, most recently in January 2013.

Two Sided Story is the third film in a trilogy Ben Mayor has directed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first, about the War of Independence, was part of PBS’ Frontline. The second, Shattered Dreams of Peace, co-directed with Danny Siton, describes the attempt to reach peace with the Oslo Accords (signed in 1993 and 1995), and their breakdown in 2002 in “Operation Defensive Shield,” the largest Israeli military action in the West Bank since 1967.

The current film, says Ben Mayor, is meant to “open up the conversation about reaching reconciliation.”

For more information about the showing of Two Sided Story, contact KIPCOR at 316-284-5217.

The film series continues April 6 with Climate Refugees, a multi-award-winning documentary about “the human face of climate change.”

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.