The Palestinian Student Association showed two films about peace in the Middle East as its first event of the semester.
Friday night around 30 people met to view and discuss these videos, presented and introduced by Karema Worayeth, president of the PSA, and Abir Atma, co-founder and former president of the association.
The first video, an hour-long documentary called “Promises,” portrayed the lives of both Palestinian and Israeli children. The director, B.Z Goldberg, followed these children for three years before compiling and releasing the documentary, which illustrated the struggle Middle Eastern children endure.
The main conflict the videos portrayed was the religious and territory battle between Palestinians and Israelis that presently plagues the two groups.
The children in “Promises” demonstrated how they grow up bearing a prejudice against the opposing side, almost from birth. In the end of the video, Goldberg brought the children together and convinced them that they could eventually coexist in peace if they so chose.
“We try to be fair and show both sides,” Atma, who helped choose to show the video, said. “Also to show the facts. We are not biased in one area.”
Worayeth added that she and Atma chose a video showing children’s opinions because she believes children demonstrate the most unprejudiced views.
“It’s probably the truest opinion you can get from the Middle East,” Worayeth said.
The second video, a visual slide show of maps and historical details called “Peace in the Middle East: Is it Attainable?” provided a political background of conflict in the Middle East. The narrator, Husni S. Sayed, presented these maps and ideas from a clearly pro-Palestinian point of view.
After the videos, a discussion ensued between the attendees in the audience. Some participants in the informal debate expressed the belief that Israel had wronged Palestinians when they occupied the land including Jerusalem. Some others argued that Israel had a right to the land, thus leading to an animated back-and-forth discussion.
The PSA consisted of about 10 to 12 members last year, Worayeth said. So far this semester, they have six members.
Virginia Nelson, a freshman Spanish major attended Friday night’s video screening. Nelson said she saw a sign advertising the event that captured her interest.
“I didn’t know much about the conflict before,” Nelson said. “I thought it would help me understand what’s happened and how to solve the problem.”
Nelson said the videos taught her things she had not known before, like the number of Palestinians living in refugee camps, and the checkpoints that create a barrier between Israel territory and the Palestinians.
“(The PSA) is strictly educational, to make people aware of both sides,” Worayeth said. “Also, it brings up a lot of good discussion.”
Atma agreed, adding that their group aims to create a sense of unity.
The PSA will host its next event on Nov. 2, with speaker Mohamad Jodeh discussing the religious history of the Middle East. For more information, e-mail the PSA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Edited by Colleen Buhrer, Shandra Jordan and Becky Waddingham