Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bethlehem, Peace and Christmas

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Bethlehem, Peace and Christmas
Film director Jim Hanon discusses the volatile topic of peace in the Middle East this holiday season. His recent film release Little Town of Bethlehem stirs hearts and minds towards a common goal.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
Oh, but how peace and stillness do not reign an area torn apart by fighting before and sense the birth of Jesus, about whom the song “Little Town of Bethlehem” was written.

ltob coverThis Christmas, as at any time of the year, there seems to be no shortage of opinions, emotions, and actions regarding finding “peace in the Middle East.” While we sing the familiar songs and carols about the Holy city where the Christ-child was born, some are familiar with the issue and others are personally impacted by the conflict, many more are unaware, uninformed, and unconcerned about this critical global issue. Little Town of Bethlehem is a groundbreaking new documentary that shares the gripping story of three men—a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew—born into violence and willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime.

Sami Awad is a Palestinian Christian whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today he is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a non-profit organization that promotes Palestinian independence through peaceful means. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of the Israeli nation. Today he is an outspoken advocate for the nonviolent peace movement, both in his homeland and abroad. Ahmad Al'Azzeh is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzeh refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the nonviolence program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism.

Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by EthnoGraphic Media (EGM), an educational non-profit organization exploring the critical issues of our time. Watch the trailer at

Telling a good story is hard work. Telling a story that matters to history is even harder. "Little Town of Bethlehem" is both, and deserves a wide viewing in the parliaments and congresses of the world, in universities and colleges, in churches, synagogues and mosques. The film is a passionate account of three people who have decided differently, and are laying down their lives for peace-- and therefore for a future.
Dr. Steven Garber
The Washington Institute

… engaging and lively ….
Dr. Barbara Stowasser
Director, Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Remarkable! Stories of transformation are very powerful. … it humanizes a conflict that the media has dehumanized. …provides a counter narrative to the popular storyline of violence.
Dr. Varun Soni
Dean of USC Office of Religious Life

…thumbs up. 
Habeeb Awad
Professor and International Student Advisor, Hope College

Director Jim Hanon is available for interviews. Review and giveaway copies are available upon requests.