What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a geopolitical epicenter with far-reaching consequences. Obstacles to reconciliation abound, from increasing religious extremism, militarism and militancy, to growing unemployment in the Arab world, to the Israeli government’s failure
to curb land seizures and settlement expansion. Cynicism and distrust are mounting despite a new round of diplomatic talks. Yet hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians are stepping forward to end the bloodshed, preserve human and land rights and promote reconciliation. Their stories seldom make the headlines, drowned out by sensational news coverage.
Just Vision creates award-winning media to generate awareness of, and support for, Palestinians and Israelis working for unarmed solutions to the conflict. Our timely new documentary, Budrus, follows a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites all Palestinian political factions and Israelis in a Gandhian struggle to save his village and its lands from destruction by Israel's Separation Barrier. When his teenage daughter, Iltezam, organizes a women’s contingent, they move to the frontlines and unleash a nonviolent movement that is still gaining ground today.
Prior to the film’s release, little had been written or broadcast about recent successful Palestinian nonviolence efforts. Articles and TV segments that addressed the issue either did so in the abstract, or by citing unsuccessful examples that often descended into stonethrowing chaos and excluded women entirely. Budrus offers concrete proof that change is possible through nonviolence initiated and maintained through bottom up efforts in civil society.
The film and associated outreach campaign came to fruition after we toured the world with our last film, Encounter Point. Audiences in the West would ask us “where is the Palestinian Gandhi,” while Palestinians would often assert that they had “tried nonviolence and it failed to yield results.” Given the disconnect in perception between these audiences, and the inspiring actions on the part of the village of Budrus that were invisible to the public, we opted to launch this film and outreach initiative.
Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.
Just Vision is led by an Israeli, Palestinian, North and South American team with expertise in human rights advocacy, filmmaking, journalism and nonviolence. We have deep ties to the region and the issues featured in Budrus; all the senior and programmatic staff members are either Israeli or Palestinian or both except Media Director Julia Bacha, who is Brazilian. Since our founding we have maintained an office in Sheikh Jarrah (East Jerusalem). We work with an array of professionals with backgrounds in PR, conflict resolution and facilitation. Prior to founding Just Vision, Executive Director Ronit Avni worked for Peter Gabriel’s human rights organization, WITNESS, training human rights advocates to document rights abuses – including land rights with groups in Brazil and indigenous communities in the Philippines – using digital technology and film. Media Director Julia Bacha wrote and edited the film, Control Room, and Irene Nasser’s history was described in the profile section.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another source, please provide the information.
We were a finalist for the Entrepreneuring Peace competition years ago and have been keeping an eye out for competitions since.