Bassam and Rami, a Palestinian and Israeli, were once dedicated fighters willing to kill and be killed by one another for the sake of their nations. Yet each one of them came face to face with the price of war when their daughters were killed in the conflict. Left with the excruciating pain of bereavement, they chose to do the unexpected. They set out on a joint journey to humanize the very enemy, which took the dearest thing from them and prevent the vicious cycle of retaliation in themselves and their societies. Along the way they reveal the friendship and humor that keeps them alive.
The film follows their two parallel stories and the moments where they converge, both in their personal experiences and peace work as they face their shattered families, confused communities and opposing society. This is a critical junction in both their lives, as their life mission and personal agenda clash and they stand the biggest test to their friendship.
The film is produced by Firefly Pictures and Nisansun Productions and co-produced with France 5 Televisions, the film was also supported by the Sundance Film Institute and the Makor and Gesher foundations – Israel.
Year of production: 2009-2012
Single Documentary 52’00 – TV Version with an English Narration.
Single Documentary 68’00 – feature version.
Original language: Hebrew/Arabic/English
Spring is in the air and April brings with it a line up of festivals and events screening “Within The Eye of The Storm” !
If you know people in these areas please share the information:
The Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival – 7/4
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival – 12/4
Tel Chai College, Israel – 10/4
Int. du cinema et de la memoire commune-Nador- Morocco-22-27/4
Billtown Film Festival Pennsylvania – 28-30/4
Screenings of the film in March :
3/3 The INT. film festival of Human rights Geneva – FIFDH -http://www.fifdh.org/ –
6/3 University of Winnipeg
17/3 – Screening at the The Acco Jewish Arab centre
18/3 – Screening at the HUB TLV
Within The Eye of the Storm Won an award “Best Contemporary Issue Film”at DocMiami
It was also Nominated for “Best Debut Documentary film 2012″in Israel
Rami, the son of a Holocaust survivor grew up in Jerusalem and began his adult life as a soldier like every other Israeli man. In 1973 he was a young reserve soldier amidst a terrible war. They set out with 11 tanks and ended with only 3. He lost some of his very best friends and came out a beaten, angry, embittered and cynical man. After establishing a career and family, on Yom Kippur evening 1983, a sweet baby girl was born; ‘Smadar’. Rami, his wife, three sons and Smadar, lived happily in a bubble, until the 4th September 1997, when the bubble smashed into a million pieces. Smadar and her friends went to Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem to buy books. There, they met their death, killed by two Palestinian suicide bombers who murdered 5 people that day, among them three little girls aged 14.
The funeral was held in Kibbutz Nachshon, on the way to Jerusalem. Smadar was buried next to her late grandfather General Prof. Matti Peled, the Peace Fighter. The fact that the granddaughter of this great man was murdered, drew huge attention in Israel and abroad and the mourners included; Jews, Arabs, left-wingers, right-wingers, religious and secular people, from the representatives of the settlers in the Occupied Territories to the personal representatives of chairman Yasser Arafat. Rami was suddenly faced with the choice; what’s next? Where do you go from here? Where do you direct this new and intolerable ache? What do you do with the rest of your life when suddenly you have become a completely different person, and all your previous priorities have dissipated?
Rami chose to go against the obvious and instinctive response; the urge for revenge that is stronger than death. He chose to direct the pain and bereavement to try and prevent further bereavement. He was approached by Yitzchak Frankenthal who formed the organisation the ‘Parent’s circle – family Forum’ consisting of people who lost children in the conflict but nevertheless want Peace… Rami attended a meeting of the group and his world turned upside down. As he describes: ‘I saw bereaved Palestinian families: men, women and children, coming towards me, greeting me, hugging me and crying with me… From that day on I got my reason to get out of bed in the morning. Since then, I have dedicated my life to go from person to person, from ear to ear and shout in a loud voice: This is not our destiny! Nowhere is it written that we must continue dying and sacrificing our children forever and ever. We can-and must-stop this crazy vicious circle of violence, murder and retaliation. With no winners and only with losers! If we, who have paid the highest price possible, can carry on a dialog, then so can anyone!
Bassam grew up in the ancient city of Hebron. As a child he never felt safe and at the age of 12 witnessed a boy being shot by a soldier and dying in front of his eyes, at a demonstration. From that moment he developed a deep need for revenge. He joined a group who called themselves freedom fighters, whom others in the outside world termed terrorists. It began with the throwing of stones and empty bottles, but then they found discarded hand-grenades in a cave and hurled them at Israeli jeeps. Two of them exploded. No one was injured but they were caught, and in 1985, at the age of 17, Bassam received a seven-year prison sentence.
During his time serving, there was a film about the Holocaust. Bassam sat to watch it, to witness how his enemies were killed, but minutes into the movie, found himself crying, horrified by the sight of Jews being herded into gas chambers. It was the first time he realised the suffering of the Jewish people and experienced empathy and identification. He began to consider whether the Israeli oppression was partly because of the Holocaust, and decided to try and understand who the Jews really were. He began a conversation with a prison guard who was a settler himself and considered all prisoners as terrorists. It was the start of a dialogue and a friendship and from that point on Bassam realised that transformations can happen through dialogue, without force. That the only way to peace was through non-violence.
Shortly after Bassam was released and after building a life and family for himself in Anata on the East of Jerusalem, he co-founded in 2005 ‘Combatants for Peace’. An organisation of former Israeli and Palestinian combatants who shot, bombed, tortured and killed, in the belief that this was the only way to serve their people. It began as secret meetings of true enemies and evolved into a movement of individuals who felt a responsibility for each other’s people, leading to a non-violent struggle against the occupation and towards a two state solution.
On the 16th of January 2007, Bassam was struck with a heavy tragedy. His 10-year-old daughter, Abir, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by an Israeli soldier while standing outside her school and died 2 days later. There was no violent clash or stone throwing, no apparent reason for the incident. Bassam opened a Civil Case against the State of Israel and another Criminal Case against the soldier. In 2011 he won the Civil case, the first time in Israeli history that a Palestinian case won. However he lost the Criminal case, which he is currently pursuing further. As Bassam says “Abir’s murder could have led me down the easy path of hatred and vengeance, but for me there was no return from dialogue and non-violence. After all, it was one Israeli soldier who shot my daughter, but one hundred former Israeli soldiers who built a garden in her name at the school where she was murdered”.
Shelley grew up in Israel and England with a multicultural heritage. In 1997 she was an Art-Director at Ad agency ‘Ogilvy & Mather’ Hong Kong, and since 2000 worked in film, as a freelance Producer/Director/Cameraman on a range of international productions; Home Fronts for Channel 4 UK on Ethiopian and a Russian immigrants in Israel, The Trial of Sadam Hussein for Esteban Uyarra BBC, 77 Steps for Ibtisam Mara’ana, ‘Two Boys’ short animation for Leonard Cohen’s initiative ‘The fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace’.
She has produced and directed over 20 films with ‘at risk’ youth, teenage mothers and women in conflicted communities. She is currently working for the Canadian organisation ‘Peace It Together’ as outreach mentor & co-ordinator for their program leaders (aged 20-29) in Israel. Working with PRIME and the Palestinian co-ordinator to set up screenings all over Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Producer and director in the film industry, specializing in documentary films.
He graduated with honours from Tel Hai film school. Among the films he produced/directed and screened locally and internationally on TV and at festivals worldwide in the last ten years; Thank God for India and Choco banana in North Carolina about the phenomenon of the young generation in Israel who leave the country to travel abroad after the army. The life according to Omer about a soldier who was killed in Gaza and the international production The locker room, about what goes on within men’s locker rooms, filmed and produced worldwide.
Born In Israel and raised in Israel and in Bogota , Colombia, Yosi graduated from the Film & TV Department of Tel Aviv University in 2001. Since then he has been working as a freelance director, script writer and script editor for fictions dramas, documentaries, video clips and pop promos . He also teaches and coaches individuals in script writing. His previous works include titles as ‘Lisa and Michael’, ‘Bar Hoffman 15’, ‘Photo Finish’ , ‘Incognito’.
Since 1988 Kobi edited and co-wrote feature films, documentaries and TV programs, also acting as script and editing advisor.
Kobi is a faculty member at the Tel Hai College since 2006, a facilitator of editing workshops
Prior work: “Being Like Avi”, “Odessa Odessa”, “Adama”, “The Last Chance”, “Kippur”, “Kadosh”, “A Champs Story” , “The Volunteers are Coming”, “Enraged”, “Brothers”, “The Samaritan”, “Kedma”, “Eden”.
Kobi is founder and CEO of Hyperclip – sales representation for digital media. Provider of strategic advisory services, and marketing to the entertainment and media industries. Includes film finance, film sales, corporate consultation (strategy and finance), analytical data collection, research and digital rights management as well as talent management. He’s also an award winning documentary filmmaker and producer. His documentary MacHEADS on Apple culture, rocked the leading streaming sites such as iTunes and Hulu (Most popular Movie) And was aired on CNBC. Shely followed shortly thereafter with Hyperclip, a dot com company that matches bloggers and publishers with premium video content from acclaimed filmmakers
“Combatants for Peace” movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who took an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, they decided to put down their guns, and to fight for peace. Since the beginning of 2005 they have been organizing meetings between Israeli and Palestinian veterans, in which both sides tell about the violent actions that they have taken part in and about the turning point which led them to understand the limits of violence. They organise joint projects and events which educate towards non- violence and they initiate political activities and demonstrations in order to bring about change. It became apparent that despite years of fear and hatred, there is more that unites us than divides and only by joining forces, will we be able to end the cycle of violence, the bloodshed and the occupation. Their goals are; to raise the consciousness in both publics regarding the hopes and suffering of the other side, the national aspirations of each other and to create partners in dialogue. To educate towards reconciliation and non-violent struggle in both the Israeli and Palestinian societies and to create political pressure on both Governments to stop the cycle of violence, end the occupation and resume a constructive dialog.
The Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF) is a joint Palestinian Israeli organization of over 600 families, all of whom have lost a close family member as a result of the prolonged conflict. Joint activities have shown that the reconciliation between individuals and nations is possible and it is this insight that they are trying to pass on to both sides of the conflict. Moreover, the PCFF has concluded that the process of reconciliation between nations is a prerequisite to achieving a sustainable peace. The organization thus utilizes all resources available in education, public meetings and the media, to spread these ideas. Although the PCFF has no stated position on the political solution of the conflict, most of its members agree that the solution must be based on free negotiations between the leadership of both sides to ensure basic human rights, the establishment of two states for two peoples, and the signing of a peace treaty. The historic reconciliation between the two nations is a necessary condition for obtaining a sustainable peace treaty.
The Parent’s circle Families Forum
All for Peace is a not-for-profit joint Israeli-Palestinian radio station that was founded in 2004 by people who wanted media to have a positive role in resolving the conflict. All for Peace broadcasts on 107.2 FM, 87.8 FM and Israeli Podcast, and currently reaches over 33,000 listeners. It is a multi-lingual station that reaches many parts of Israel and the Palestinian Authority including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jallah, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Jenin, Hebron, and parts of the Negev. The programs include talk shows, interviews, music, and weekly programs by civil society organizations. Philanthropic organizations and private donors support the station. The idea of a joint Israeli-Palestinian radio station is unique and innovative, and one through which we can bring the vast accumulated experience of an Israeli and a Palestinian organization together through the electronic media in order to reach a new audience, one previously not exposed to the message of peace, and bring to them our message. A central aspect of the conflict between the two people arises from the distance and alienation between them. Common sense dictates that the more we know about each other the less we will hate, be angry at and fear each other. Showing the true face of each side will assist in grappling with these obstacles, which have been built up over the years of the conflict, and will assist in opening hearts towards the better days to come.
All For Peace Radio Station
Yesh Din is a volunteer organization working to defend the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which is anchored in international human rights law and international humanitarian law, guides the organization in its work to uphold the rule of law in the occupied territories and monitor the Israeli law enforcement system in those territories.
Yesh Din is an Israeli organization registered as a non-profit in Israel. It is subject to Israeli law and is served by a volunteer corps and by a professional staff. The organization cooperates with Israeli and international organizations to protect human rights.
People’s Peace Fund is the first fund established specifically to promote a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through grassroots activities. We work together since 2007. In partnership with Alliance for Peacebuilding (Washington DC), People’s Peace Fund institutionalizes the tradition of its co-founders, Sulaiman Khatib (Ramallah) and Gadi Kenny (Tel Aviv), to share their experiences, connections, and funds with competent, highly motivated grassroots leaders and entrepreneurs, mostly young, that they appraise on the field, face-to-face, over time. They use joint fund-raising operations around the world in order to enlarge the small pie of financial resources available for the many difficult and costly dialogue, empowerment, education, and conciliation projects that are absolutely necessary to actually resolve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict
We believe this film and the unique dialogue between Rami and Bassam can be an example and opening for a wider dialogue amongst individuals and communities that are Jewish and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian, as well as from other regions of conflict, in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
In the film a journey of dialogue and friendship began, through the joint radio show they carried out at ‘Radio All For peace’. However the station was closed and with it the dialogue!
We propose to save the dialogue in two ways:
1) To create an ‘Interactive On Line Radio Show’ that will be open to the entire world and will not only save their dialogue, but also that of the two nations and share it with the world at large. It will offer audiences the opportunity to ask them direct questions Live and feed off their extensive experience and knowledge, wisdom and compassion.
One of the biggest problems in conflict zones is that the two sides simply do not know the ‘other’ or they believe they know through the exaggerated propaganda images in the media which dehumanize the ‘other’. This will be a continued glimpse into the reality of the two sides from the inside…
Presented by two men who have the necessary dialogue skills to deal with challenges and the depth of experiences to warrant the open ears of audiences.
It will be a safe haven for individuals to express fears, concerns, build trust and capture a glimmer of hope.
As Bassam and Rami rightly put it “We paid the biggest price of war, if we can talk, so can anyone!”
2) To set off on a ‘Screening Tour With The Film’ – In the Middle East, the US and Europe.
We will venture into a variety of Jewish and Muslim communities, Universities and educational institutions and conflict resolution forums, in order to deliver the clear message – “Dialogue between the two sides is possible and probably the only way we can achieve hope and a peaceful resolution to this conflict… or any conflict”
We are in need of collaborations and financial support to make this happen!
We are seeking it from a variety of sources, both private and public, individual and organizations/corporations.
We will be delighted to hear from you.
In the coming months we will launch with a fund raising campaign to reach this worthy vision, through this website and Kickstarter.
Help us make it happen!!!!!!
We go live!
We would love to hear your opinion and ideas.
If you would like to get involved in some way or collaborate in organizing a screening of the film in your community or in an educational context, we want to hear from you!
Phone: +972 543135316
Phone: +972 544724606
Michael Treves – J.M.T. Films Distribution
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