NGO video plays on racism in Israel
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NGO video plays on racism in Israel

Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians speak from the heart in new clip advocating for peace and reconciliation

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Still from a Palestinian Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace video. (YouTube screenshot)
Still from a Palestinian Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace video. (YouTube screenshot)

A new video from the Parents Circle – Families Forum, an organization of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families supporting, peace, reconciliation and tolerance, is catching the public’s attention.

The video, “We Don’t Want You Here,” features Jewish Israelis and Palestinians of various ages who look directly into the camera and state, “We don’t want you here” in Hebrew or Arabic.

Anyone attuned to the racist, nationalistic and extremist rhetoric as tensions have risen between Israel and Hamas would think the people in the video were speaking in this vein.

But at the end, it is revealed that the individuals saying, “We don’t want you here” have all lost family members to the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When they say it, they mean they don’t want there to have to be any more members of their group.

“We put this video together in less than a week,” Parents Circle – Families Forum spokeswoman Robi Damelin told The Times of Israel. “The rockets flying escalated our desire to finish it and get it out there.”

The powerful 40-second clip was produced pro-bono by the Baumann Ber Rivnay/Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency, which also made a short film for the NGO’s 2011 “Blood Relations” project. That film won the Golden Lion award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Although Damelin, whose son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the Second Intifada, has recently written op-eds published in Israel and abroad in response to the current escalation of the conflict, she says that what speaks loudest is the reconciliation work the Parents Circle – Families Forum is doing on the ground.

“We’ve been running a ‘Peace Square’ tent every evening in the Cinematheque courtyard in Tel Aviv,” she said. “It’s really a vigil at which our bereaved family members dialogue with one another and the public.”

Damelin reports an upsurge of emails her since the video was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday at 10 p.m. Israel time.

“People have told me that it has brought them to tears,” she said.

As clever as the language play in the video is, Damelin thinks what moves viewers the most is that the individuals in the clip are not actors.

“They are real people who have paid the highest price,” she said.

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