Local Efforts to Build Peace in the Middle East

For the past eight years, Yafit Gamila Bison, a Syrian-born Israeli citizen, has driven Palestinian children past the checkpoints into Israel to be treated at Israeli hospitals. When their parents are not granted permits to accompany them, Bison stays with the children, using her native Arabic to translate for the doctors. She is one of the many local peacemakers featured on Just Vision, a project dedicated to showcasing both Israeli and Palestinian efforts to end violence, protect human rights, and create a lasting peace in the region.

Just Vision was created in 2003 in response to the lack of mainstream media coverage of local efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civic leaders working toward a nonviolent solution. Just Vision highlights these efforts, hoping to inspire others and to encourage a broader dialogue about building peace.

Just Vision’s two feature-length films, Encounter Point and Budrus, have been screened at the United Nations, the House of Lords, the World Bank, and at a forum for Middle Eastern policymakers. Budrus tells the story of a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who led an unarmed movement of local Fatah and Hamas members, together with Israeli supporters, to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s separation barrier. Since the release of the film in 2010, media coverage of the situation in Budrus has increased dramatically.

Says Daoud Nassar, another local peacemaker featured on Just Vision, “Peace needs to grow like a tree from the grassroots: you water it and care for it and, once its roots are strong, it can lead its own way.