Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ has done a lot of work with inerfaith dialogue in general, and Jewish, Muslim and Christian relations in particular. Before the screening I had the privilege of meeting with an interfaith dialogue group headed by Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D who is the Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives.
Many professors brought their classes to the screening so we had the largest audience yet. The discussion after the screening reminded me of the joint Israeli and Palestinian discussions we had with groups when we were making the film. They seemed sensitive to the trauma and areas of disagreements and were now able to listen to each others stories and take them in. They might still disagree, but they helped each other understand why they disagreed.
If I had to point to one element that makes these kinds of discussions possible it would be the lack of fear. Just as the creation of fear adds to any conflict, the reduction of fear diffuses any conflict.
In 2007, when we started the journey of making the film, I’m not sure how many community efforts like the one in Monmouth existed. It was great to see that our telling the story in Little Town of Bethlehem was simple being part of a larger picture. One that was further revealed last night during the On Screen/In Person Tour.
Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker