Helen Whitney’s Film
Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate
Airing Sundays, April 17 and 24 at 10 p.m. EST
It is our great pleasure to announce the PBS airing of the long-awaited documentary Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate on Sundays, April 17 and 24 at 10 p.m. EST (check local listings). Directed by ICfC’s long-time friend Helen Whitney, an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and director with over thirty years of experience producing dramatic features and documentary films, this powerful film explores the timely, nearly ubiquitous applications and limitations of the concept and practice of forgiveness through a compelling range of stories, from personal betrayal to global reconciliation after genocide.
The documentary Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate provides an intimate look into the spontaneous outpouring of forgiveness: from the Amish families for the 2006 shooting of their children in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania; the struggle of ’60s radicals to cope with the serious consequences of their violent acts of protest; the shattering of a family after the mother abandons them, only to return seeking forgiveness; the legacy and divisiveness of apartheid and the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in South Africa; the riveting stories of survivors of the unimaginably, brutal Rwandan genocide and the penitential journey of a modern-day Germany, confronting the horrific acts of the Holocaust.
Interviewed at some length on this history is Donald Shriver, ICfC Advisory Council member and president emeritus of Union Theological Seminary and author of the book An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics (Oxford, 1995). Along with his 2005 book Honest Patriots, Shriver makes the case, with Hannah Arendt, that societies cannot truly recover from the injustices in their past without acknowledging them publicly. Shriver states, ”If forgiveness is to have public meaning, it must be joined with public repentance.”
“Forgiveness is elusive, mysterious, primal … an idea and an ache, which is rooted in existential concerns. But too often forgiveness is presented as a simplistic valentine celebrating New Age pieties: exhorting us to forgive and criticizing those who cannot as spiritual underachievers,” notes Helen Whitney. “My intention is to complicate this vitally important subject. The film is meant to raise questions, not provide answers.”
This multi-layered documentary explores the overarching concept of forgiveness and its new role in the world; its power, its limitations and in some instances its dangers.
Please take this opportunity to watch the film and send us your thoughts via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
Glimmers of Hope Tour
November 30th to December 7th, 2010
Kher Albaz, ICfC Senior Fellow
Hope. Change. Yes we can. No, these are not just the powerful, rallying words of Barak Obama, but also the sincere, urgent message of Kher Albaz, a leader of the Bedouin community in the Negev region of Israel, and senior fellow and international trainer of International Center for Conciliation (ICfC). During his three city “Glimmers of Hope” tour in Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, in December, 2010, Kher enforced a clear, critical message about making peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel—the time is now.
Kher made 12 inspiring presentations from November 30th – December 7th, speaking about ICfC’s recent work in Israel and its partnership with an Israeli NGO composed of Arab and Jewish social workers called Ossim Shalom (Social Workers for Peace and Social Justice). While communicating the fundamentals of ICfC and the work of Ossim Shalom, Kher also highlighted the importance of grassroots peace-building by sharing personal stories of his life as a member of a minority population, as well as relaying to audiences the miraculous transformations that he has witnessed as a facilitator in conciliation workshops between Jews and Arabs.
The optimism and dedication that Kher carries with him every day was validated by the captivated and inspired audiences. He was able to return to the Negev with a sense of gratitude and renewed purpose for his peace-building work at the grassroots level. Kher heard from attendees that the people to people diplomacy and community development are the backbone of building trust and strong relationships. He brought back a strong message for all the facilitators and participants- a message of “you are not alone.”
A young guest, Josh, age 15, said it best at a Boston reception when he echoed Kher’s sentiment that in light of intractable conflict, the only choice we have is to get people to talk with each other and lead with hope to build peace. We echo Josh and Kher and invite you to join us in creating enduring peace around the world by working with communities at the grassroots level.
The success of the tour could not have been possible without the efforts and hospitality of many of ICfC’s supporters. We are thankful to our hosts Mr. William Overholt, Ms. Dorothy and Mr. Richard Koerner, Ms. Christine Dunn, Ms. Fran and Mr. John Godine, Ms. Marsha Feinberg, Ms. Pat Gercik, Ms. Nadia Wellisz, Ms. JaLynn and Mr. Greg Prince, for hosting private receptions. We are also thankful to the following organizations for hosting public events featuring Mr. Albaz and ICfC: MISTI MIT-Israel program; The Co-Existence Program at Brandeis University’s Heller School; Tufts Hillel, Tufts Friends of Israel, NIMEP and Arab Students’ Association at Tufts University; the Open Society Institute; and JCRC of Greater Boston.
Personal Story Excerpt, Kher Albaz
Kher spoke of his own experiences as a Bedouin growing up in the Negev, the southern desert of Israel, and how one particular moment led him to the work he passionately and vigorously pursues today. As a very young boy, Kher admired his father pouring all of his time and energy into constructing a tin home for the family, a step up from the flimsy tent they had previously inhabited. The pride and admiration was torn away, however, when a storm struck the first night the family slept in the house– it was demolished beyond repair. Kher remembered looking up into the sky with anguish in his heart and raindrops falling upon his face—why did his life have to be so much harder, full of so much more suffering, than his Jewish neighbors? Why did he have to watch his father struggle to achieve a quality of life not even close to the standards of the majority population? Even at that young age, however, Kher knew that there was only one choice he could make—abandon the intractable, endless cycles of violence, and instead head down the path of expressing his pain, trying to understand the other, and collaborating with his neighbors to seek solutions. It is this empathetic and problem-solving spirit that Kher carries with him at all times, and imparts upon those he works with. He infuses the spirit of peace into each and every person who participates in ICfC’s conciliation workshops.
Workshop Transformation Example
One such transformation occurred in one of the workshops between a Russian Jewish woman and a pious, veiled Muslim Arab woman. Touched and bonded by each others’ experiences of racism as “outsiders” from the majority population in Israel, these two women developed a strong friendship and were able to move beyond the hostility not only between Arabs and Jews, but specifically between Muslim Arabs and Jewish Russians. This is particularly remarkable as it takes place in the context of a tense political climate between Arabs and Russians in an age of Lieberman, when Russian Jews are assumed to be rabid right wingers who believe all Israeli Arabs should leave the land. This bond truly represented to Kher what peace can look like if the work of ICfC is expanded.
“To see a Russian Jewish woman and a religious Arab woman working through their own painful memories, to see them empathizing with each others’ vastly different experiences with racism, and to see them coming together as friends and colleagues, was one of the most heartening experiences I have seen. Yes, the change IS happening. Peace CAN be achieved if we can help to get rid of bad memories, move from hatred to empathy and build deeper trust”- Kher Albaz