Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker
Bob Hope had performed at the symphony hall in Allentown, Pennsylvania back in the days of vaudeville. What a great venue for the On Screen/In Person tour. It might have been nice to play off the history of the place and tell some jokes before the audience discussion, except the nature of the film doesn’t lend itself to that.
We had an older audience, and I enjoyed a different kind of discussion because many of them remember the civil rights movement in the US. Naturally, there was some discussion about whether it is appropriate to compare the nonviolence movement in the US to the middle east and most specifically the Palestinians. I find it very easy to understand why all the protagonists in the film mention their inspiration in Dr. King, for the center of what they are struggling for is equality. They see nonviolence as the path toward equality and equality as the path toward peace. At the same time I also understand why some feel any comparison is misleading.
How you feel about the Palestinian people is at the heart of whether you agree if the comparison is appropriate. If you feel they are terrorists at war with Israel, then the comparison is outrageous. If you feel they are civilians struggling to survive and make their respective societies better for both peoples then the comparison is nothing short of inspirational. The film, Little Town of Bethlehem, ia about the joint Israeli and Palestinian nonviolence movement. They are paying the price within their respective societies to bridge the gap between the two peoples. They believe, as Dr. King did, “Their destiny is tied to our destiny.”
In the early days of vaudeville the stage was segregated. It was wonderful to be back on an old vaudeville stage with this story. And it was great to be among the thoughtful people of Allentown.