On August 17, nearly a hundred people gathered at St. Francis of Assisi to watch Budrus, a feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. This is an inspirational story of how success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat. The movie is directed by filmmaker Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room and co-director Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, Director of Encounter Point).
Fr. David McBriar, OFM, with the help Kathleen Owen and many delegates who traveled with him to the Middle East, organized this event. Before viewing the film, St. Francis parishioner Marianne Williams offered a brief overview of the complex and important history of this region, especially noting the points of conflict in recent history. After the film, a panel of five people led a discussion about signs of hope in this region and ways that we can take action in the efforts of creating lasting peace. The panelists included: 1. St. Francis parishioner Dana Bauman who has been to Palestine a number of times reflected on her experiences of traveling and living with families struggling to save their land and villages. 2. Arab Muslim Jihad Shawwa born in the Gaza Strip shared his impassioned reflections on meeting men and women of good will all over the world who desire to come together and find common ground to work for peace. 3. Jewish storyteller and inspirational speaker Rachel Galper witnessed about her returning to her Jewish roots and finding rich Biblical passages and imagery suggesting the call for peace. 4. Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Or Lucy Dinner shared her hopes for a future peace as well. 5. Miriam Thompson who is active with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Coalition for Peace with Justice called all participants to get involved in peace work in the Middle East, particulrly to write their legislative respresentatives. As participants engaged in Q&A with the panelists, there were many who named the United States’ role in this conflict, especially noting our history with the region and our military/defense support of Israel. Participants finished the evening by writing and signing letters to members of the North Carolina legislature asking for a renewed commitment to securing peace in the Middle East. Over 100 letters were sent.