‘The Syrian Bride’: Far-fetched ideas of coexistence?

A still from 'The Syrian Bride'Ironically enough, amid the bloodshed taking place in the Middle East as Arabs and Israelis again engage in a vicious conflict that has innocent civilians paying the price, we watched a movie about tolerance. The Syrian Bride, born from the joint efforts of Israeli and Palestinian movie makers, depicts the strife of the Druze community living in the occupied Golan Heights. Recognized neither by Israel nor Syria as citizens, the Druze carry an "identified" citizenship. The movie revolves around a Druze woman on her wedding day. Her conundrum is that she is engaged to Syrian who lives on the other side of the fence, thereby mandating a wedding on the border between Israel and Syria and the loss of her ability to return to the Golan. Getting the proper exist visa and finally reuniting with her husband proves a nightmare, as both Israeli and Syrian officials employ tedious bureaucratic snafus that highlight the harsh reality this community endures on a daily basis.

Beirut destroyed The movie is filled with great scenery, engaging conversations and an extremely compelling storyline. It sheds light on the Syrian Druze plight, which, for some reason, is neglected by the mainstream media. We chose the film because somewhere deep inside, we hope Arabs and Israelis can peaceably coexist one day. This beautiful movie was one small-scale product of such a peaceable coexistence. Looking at the latest developments in Lebanon, though, such coexistence seems highly unlikely. The civilian death toll in Lebanon so far is 212; Israel: 12 (Source: From Beirut to the Beltway). At this point coexistence seems far fetched. Perhaps joint movie production is as far as we can get at this point. What a sad reality!

21 Comments

  1. skye July 18, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    Natasha, I’d love to see this movie. Where did you see it, is it out on DVD?

    Reply
  2. Scooby July 18, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Natasha,

    You say: “… Arabs and Israelis again engage in a vicious conflict …” and “… we hope Arabs and Israelis can peaceably coexist one day.”

    Just a reminder that there are around 1.25 million Arab-Israelis that coexist (peacefully, for the most part) with the non-Arab Israelis.

    It’s Israel/Hammas/Hizballah that can’t seem to figure out how to coexist. I believe that the problem revolves around how the current political structure that is known as “The State of Israel,” (a supposedly democratic state that is still without a Constitution, and only with a “Basic Law” that treats Jews and non-Jews on different playing fields) can co-exist with its neighbors?

    If Israel wants its neighbors to start treating it and their own minorities equally, fairly and in the spirit of coexistence, maybe Israel should start by looking on the inside.

    Shalom…

    Reply
  3. Mike July 18, 2006 at 11:10 pm

    Meanwhile, the rest of us just dream of a time when someone big enough — maybe a modernday Gandhi? — who can find the thread to tie it all together into a relatively peaceful land. A visible degree higher than the current status would be nice.

    Someone’s gotta step foreward, saying “Basta, enough, das es alles, fin,” and whatever else it takes to turnoff the warlike thing.

    Funny, or ironic, discovery that they have found through trial and error in the west is the value of outlets like contact sports. Sounds trivial and small in thinking, but emotional people with not much more to do than be emotional and hurl rockets, rather than footballs at each other, will eventually do just that. People get bored, things happen.

    I haven’t seen too much in the way of contact sports in the Middle East, and that might not be the answer there, but if someone were to seriously, maybe even devilishly plot the eventual availability of safe physical outlets it might just be a bit safer there.

    Long way from becoming a UN resolution, or something they write books and make movies about, but I remember going to school with numerous Palestinians at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas years ago and they really found a love for the competitive spirit in basketball. A little prior skills training and some could have been pretty good. They played hard and enjoyed it.

    Israel has some sports programs, but I haven’t seen too much in the way of contact sports their, either.

    Up north of the Middle East, I have noticed that the very physical American football has established a good toehold in Germany and Austria.

    People need outlets. It’s just a natural fact. Does the Middle East offer enough to handle the stress of modern life?

    Of course, considering the nature of the divisions in the Middle East, any move there to adopt more competitive physical outlets should definitely start in intra-national rather than international settings.

    Unfortunately, people do have some sort of attraction to battle, be in conflict, argue, struggle, so why not start distracting some of that into something that could tire the combat-minded. Who wants to go fight a war when you are worn out, bruised, fatigued and begging for water?

    Let the old men who make money from arms sales and conflict go fight it out themselves. Let the younger soldier-age people play football, soccer, basketball, cricket, baseball, lacrosse, run the track, climb mountains, race bicycles…

    Reply
  4. 3ogla July 19, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Mike

    Great ideas but I have a question. Have you ever been to the West Bank or Gaza? To play sports you need a place to play them don’t you? You need a ball, bat, court, etc… to play them?

    And also you need to make sure that while you are playing no Israeli bombms and jets are bombing, you demolishing your home, and stealing your land.

    Again I like your ideas, but a people have lost their land 50 years ago and the Israelis keep hoping that the Palestinians would just vanish of the face of the earth which will never happen ofcourse.

    Don’t give me the in the West, all the problems in the Middle East are because of the West. It all started with France and Britain drawing lines and saying whats a country and whats not and then planting terrible regimes to run these countries. Now ofcourse the US is the super power and they are doing worse than what the British and the French are doing.

    The current administration on top of that have given Israel a green light to kill all sponsored by American weapons and American tax dollars.

    I think it would be a great idea if the American people start questioning where thier money is going. There is a great article by Lou Dobbs on cnn.com today. Its the first time ever that I see such an artcile on CNN.

    American can’t just say we are a super power and we’ll do what we want, being the main power in the world comes with lots of responsibilities, moral responsibilities that asks its people not to allow innocent civilians to be killed on daily basis, lose their homes, lose their children. There is a hollocost going on in Palestine and now in Lebanon as well. I urge you and all fellow Americans to wake up and face the realities of today.

    Peace

    Reply
  5. Mike July 19, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    Peace:

    A great number of us are awake, but powerless to make much change, especially with the “business friendly” Republicans holding power — at least until elections later this year.

    The best thing here is that more ask why? That why leads more to see about the power those old men I was referring to who finance wars and control politicians. Even redneck Country music, previously a bastion of conversative thinking, is penatrated now with the likes of Big and Rich’s “8th of November” about the senseless losses in Vietnam.

    I’ve been to Lebanon, but not to the West Bank, so I can’t totally appreciate how bad that situation is, but I do appreciate those who work to make change when change must be made and when certain changes, seeming ever so slight in some cases, are visible and seen as within reach.

    Much like those lessons learned on the playing fields of the world, there is much emotion, energy and willpower in the Middle East just waiting to be channeled in the right directions by the right people. Or person.

    Sooner, or later, someone will have to see through all their sweat, fatigue and bruises and think and create workable solutions, which probably seemed way over their heads before they entered public service, be it through political office, or just by picking up the grass roots baton and passing it on. Much like a relay runner.

    David Beckham was originally just a common, unknown English boy until he started kicking a soccer ball around. Gandhi was just a small town son in a relatively well-known family, but only locally, until the situation he faced in South Africa brought his competitive spirit — against racial oppression, but he threaded the emotional needles to spark change. There have been plenty of others whose biographies fill libraries and cyberspace, but tense, desperate, adrenalin-driving situations can bring out the best in people.

    And there are plenty whose adrenalin is driving now. Can someone, perhaps with a sense of teamwork as young athletes learn, bring this flow of adrenalin into a rushing river plowing into the halls of government and the war businesses to dry up conflict there in the Middle East? I certainly hope so, because it’s going to take a team of people, a very large international team of people, to bring some sort of stability to the region and it should start with a wise voice from that area.

    I only spoke of elements that I have seen to have a positive effect in my earlier comment. I speak of, and keep an eye out for people now. It would be nice to see our Peace Team captain step forward onto the pitch. We’ve already seen too many clowns, jokers and jesters.

    Jimmy Carter’s tried to do something there, but he’s American. Do you think anyone from the Middle East could find a workable middle ground and start tying things together? Personally, that’s what I think it really needs to start with, but the rest of us will have to support this (possible) eventual Middle East Peace Captain, despite whatever varying issues we might agree and disagree on, and there always are differences of opinion and always will be.

    Even the best and politicians, much like with football coaches, always make decisions that are debatable and disliked by their closest followers, or fans. Somebody’s gotta get that team going.

    Otherwise, those tons of millions of doillars spent on tourism that the Middle East loses because of the continuing violence and numerous outbreaks will go to Europe, other parts of Asia and the U.S. It is much better to be able to sit in a stadium without fear of attack. Just sidestep the hooligans if you are in England.

    Reply
  6. 3gola July 19, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Mike

    I certainly appreciate and like your way of thinking. And I certainly think that more people like youa re needed both in the US and the Middle East. There are a few points I like to make.

    Israel has the full unconditional support of the US no matter what crimes they have comitted and what crimes they might commit in the future. Israel is the biggest power in the region with no Arab state capable of saying even no to Israel about anything. Israel is the only nuclear power in the regions. Therefore the Israelis have no reason to compromise or give up their ruthless methods to uprooting the Palestinians out of their homes and humiliating all the Arabs.

    Additionally, all the places you’ve mentioned with conflicts saw an end because eventually justice came along. If there is justice for the Palestinians, I guarantee you that there will be lasting peace in the Middle East. Unfortunatly Israel’s idea of peace is forcing the Palestinians into the smallest piece of land possible and have them live under the mercy of Israel, its creating concentration camps, how easy they forget and start doing it to others.

    Unfortunatly the only nation in the world capable of changin the status quo is the US. They are the only ones that have the power but not the will to do it. As far as Carter, I think he made the biggest mistake of his life because he was willing to have the peace process to move forward without the main party to it which is the Palestinians. Its not big challenge to have peace between Egypt and Israel or Jordan and Israel. The challenge is to convince Israel that the Palestinians are people they have a nation, they have a flag, they have a government, not just animals. I and every Arab would like to see a Palestinian state stand next to an Israeli state and compete with Israel based on technology, education, culture, business, and not weapons and bombs. I have a lot of experience in the US as I spent most of my life there for education and then work etc… Unfortunatly many don’t understand the situation in the Middle East, many don’t care. I did as much as I could to provide a clear picture to people there about what really is happening. There are many doing that but not enough unfortunatly when compared with the pro-Israel loby.

    I am one of the few people that have lived the injustice of Israel and the view of the West regarding the Arabs. I don’t know how else you can win the support of the West. I really don’t know. And with the rise of extremists in the Middle East for reasos that are obvious (to some at least)I don’t see where the hope is today.

    Moderates are between a rock and a hard place watching extremists on both sides fight it out. Until the US says enough is enough. Remember in 1956 when President Esinghower (spelling) told Israel you have 24 hours to turn around and get out of Egypt and they did. Remember when Secratory of state James Baker told the Israelis that the US is stopping a payment to Israel until it fulfilled its obligagions and they did. These are 2 examples of the US ability to change the status quo in the Middle East.

    The US wanst to be a role model for democracy, lets live it, there is nothing more I love than saying to Arabs and others lets look to the US and say we want a deomcratic system like that, but how can we do that today with such a foreign policy and abuse of human rights to certain ethnicties in the US.

    While the Palestinian-Israeli conflict may seem to many as a regional conflict, unfortunatly its not, it affects the world at large to a certain extent. Justice would lead to peace and would wipe out extremism and then we can move on.

    And to answer your question, there are many Palestinians working for true peace and preaching the message, I can provide names and websites of Palestinians in Palestine and the US that are working for this true peace.

    Sorry for this long message, it just gets a bit frustrating trying to get Americans to understand the truth of whats happening.

    Last but not least, as a person from Palestinian background which had his family forced out of Palestine and their home demolished, I tell you that I am willing to extend my hand to Israelis and tell them lest live in Peace. All I want is justice and to have Palestinians compensated for the ugly crimes comitted against them just like the Jewish people were and continue to be compenstated for the crimes comitted against them.

    Maybe its too much to ask to live in dignity, I don’t know I really don’t !!

    Peace

    Reply
  7. Mike July 19, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Peace:

    The long reply is OK, and don’t worry about the spellings. I follow pretty well and I’m sure I miss a lot, too.

    Those points with Eisenhower and Cohen are worth placing in the right media hands and worth placing in front of the American public. A documentary in the U.S. has brought Eisenhower’s outgoing warning speech about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex, and Americans have become more aware of the tail wagging the dog — Israel’s influence over US policy and lawmakers — and worry about that relationship leading the US into a really bad spot. Something worse than 9/11.

    Somebody, probably people like you and me, have to keep those eye-opening historic/political points up in the media and public eye. It’s like shooting baskets — even if you’re a bad shot, eventually one will fall in the hole.

    And that could be a very important score. Maybe a winning bucket, of sorts.

    By the way, I would be interested in seeing those Palestinian websites. Please pass them on.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Bala Habal July 20, 2006 at 5:45 am

    israeli said: “Just a reminder that there are around 1.25 million Arab-Israelis that coexist (peacefully, for the most part) with the non-Arab Israelis.”

    Now that’s one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. Have the decency to make a stop at one of the civil rights groups websites in Israel. you have just uprooted non-jews in Naqab to make space for jewish settlements. you still refuse to recognize non-jewish villages in israel to the extent they are not on the official map. non-jewish schools are run down, job discrimination is rampant, the ghettoization of non-jewish communities is expanding at an alarming rate. then you have this obscene debates about the demogtaphic threats and the surveys about providing incentives to non-jews to leave israel, with the majority of jews staking racism positions. Damn you people, you can’t even be truthful about things we all know about.

    Then you have the 1.24 million non-jew figuer. where did you come with this stupid number? EVERY NON-JEW UNDER YOUR RULE IS YOUR RESPONSBILTY be it in west bank or gaza. imagine if US decided to declare states with majority non-whites as occupied territories, depriving blacks and latinos of political rights then calling itself a liberal democracy? But jews think they can do that and be called a liberal western democracy? well you can shove your brand of liberalism and democracy where the sun don’t shine.

    Reply
  9. Scooby July 20, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Bala Habal,

    Maybe your name should be “Kulak Habal.” You are truly a piece of work that makes me question whether you have any ability to comprehend the English language – that also makes me wonder whether I should reply to you in English or some other language that you may comprehend.

    If you have ever read Natasha’s blog on previous occasions you would have been able to figure out that I am not an Israeli. I am one of the staunchest critics of the State of Israel you can ever meet. I have Arab-Israeli family and friends who tell me all about the discrimination they face from the State of Israel. I have Palestinian family members that can tell you stories going back to 1948 and even before then.

    If you pay attention to what I wrote you will see that I said: “If Israel wants its neighbors to start treating it and their own minorities equally, fairly and in the spirit of coexistence, maybe Israel should start by looking on the inside.” For you illiterate fool, that means that I am criticizing Israel for how it treats it Arabs. When I say that “Arab-Israelis coexist (peacefully, for the most part) with the non-Arab Israelis,” that does not imply that they are treated equally – far from it; however, they are not blowing up each other every single day. That is peacful existence; it may not be equal, but it is peacful.

    When I refer to the 1.25 million Arab-Israelis in Israel, I am getting my “stupid number” from here: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/is.html#People. If you are too stupid to do the math, you multiply 6.3 million total population by 20% non-Jews to get around 1.25 million, or is that math too complicated for you because you are kteer ahbal? By the way, that obviously does not include the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – the focus here in on Israel because it claims to be democratic and kind to its own people.

    It is 7ameer like you that give our Arab causes a bad name. You need to read, think, comprehend, then respond. My first post was meant to point out to Natasha that she is falling into the trap of making the problem look like an Arabs v. Israel issue. My point was to draw attention that there many Arabs in Israel as well which Israel treats unfairly, and if Israel wants to be accepted as a country, it needs to start by fixing itself on the inside. The problem is not that of Arab vs. Jew; it is between the idealogies of hate and murder on one hand vs. EQUAL RIGHTS and EQUAL EXISTENCE on the other.

    Don’t lecture me about what Israel is and is not doing. I wrote a 30 page research paper on the illegality of the Israel Apartheid Wall in the West Bank (which, by the way, they are still building). My friends are sick and tired of me explaining the plight of the Palestinians to them. I care more about the Palestinians than most people ever will.

    I suggest that you relax, take a chill pill, and go read my initial post once more. Now read it to comprehend, not to attack because I used the word Shalom to sign off. Shalom means peace, but since you are kteer ahbal, I will sign off by saying:

    Al-salam 3alaikum wa rahmatu Alllah wa barakatuh.

    Reply
  10. Bala Habal July 20, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    “they are not blowing up each other every single day. That is peacful existence; it may not be equal, but it is peacful.”

    slaves and masters peacfully co-exist by your mediocre definition of co-existance. after all, a slave does not shoot at his master. wow man, you have modest standards of dignity. last time i checked, peaceful co-existance meant equality and tolerance, but leave it up to peopel like you and all of a sudden this term drops a 100 notches for arabs on the human dignity scale. but you are free to choose to be second-class or third-class.

    Reply
  11. Scooby July 20, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Bala Habal,

    Ya habileh, you are so ignorant (or maybe your reading-comprehension skills are so awful) that I am not sure I should dignify your latest post with an answer.

    You left my long post above and chose to comment about what I said regarding peaceful existence? Do you just enjoy arguing with people? I threw so much stuff back in your face and put you in your place, and this is the best you can come up with. Instead of realizing that I am on your side and apologize for attacking me, you want to argue some more?

    Nonetheless, look up the meaning of the word peace: the state prevailing during the absence of war. There is no “war” between Arabs and non-Arabs in “The State of Israel,” that’s why I said that they coexist, peacefully, FOR THE MOST PART. That does not mean that the way they are treated is right; read further as to I said, “… it may not be equal…”

    So, again, for slow people like you out there, I said more than once that Arab-Israelis are not being treated equally. THE WHOLE FRICKIN’ POINT FROM MY POST WAS TO POINT OUT THE HYPOCRACY THAT IS THE STATE OF ISRAEL. Go back to grammar school you idiot, even better, take a course in reading-comprehension.

    If you have something intelligent to say, please do write back, otherwise, ir7amnee min habalak.

    Allah yehdeek ya akhi.

    Reply
  12. 3ogla July 20, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    Mike

    Sorry I’ve been a bit busy but I owe it to you to provide some names and website. The one website I encourage you to look at is http://www.sabeel.com Also the director of Sabeel has written a book called Justice and only Justice, great book, authoer is Rev. Naeem Ateek.

    Other books also include “Blood Brothers” and “We Belong to the Land” by father Elias Chacour.

    Additionally you can read any writings by the most prominant Arab-American, the late Dr. Edward Saeed.

    Read Hanan Ashrawis writings. Also you can google some information about Fahed Abu Akel, he was the president of the Persbyterian Church in the USA for one term.

    Additionally you can google Father Labib Kobti, a catholic Arab-American priest.

    Ofcourse I think its worth it to pay a visit to http://www.adc.org and http://www.aaiusa.org two organisation that provide the Arab-American perspective.

    hope this helps for now, I’ll try to provide more as I’ve been a bit busy lately.

    Peace

    Reply
  13. Bala Habal July 21, 2006 at 7:47 am

    Scoopy, it does not matter what you say and what you pretend to mean when you insert a sentence that undermines all you other arguments. i could care less if you write the most moving romantic letter if somewhere in the middle you say sonething like “and don’t belive anything i say”

    Reply
  14. Scooby July 21, 2006 at 11:29 am

    Habileh,

    Go learn English; specifically, go learn the difference between the “B” and the “P.” You probabably would say: ” ScooPy, the BeoBle want some BeBsi.”

    Your most recent comment is so pathetic. No matter how hard I try, I can make no sense out of it. Remember what I told you: “If you have something intelligent to say, please do write back, otherwise, ir7amnee min habalak.”

    Enough. Go away. Don’t want to hear from you anymore. You make me question if there is any hope left for the Arabic peoples.

    Allah ma3ak. Salam.

    Reply
  15. Mike July 21, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    Peace:

    I’ve been very busy, too, working two jobs.

    Thanks for the info. Is “Justice and only Justice” a new release?

    I review books, so something new and on the hottest international story would be smart timing.

    Thanks again,
    Mike

    Reply
  16. 3ogla July 21, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Mike

    No Justice and Only Justice is not a new release, its quite old, maybe 20 odd years but very good book and a powerful message. It addresses the issue of liberation theology, it really answers some of the misguided Christians in the world that think God is a real estate agent and gave the land to the Jews. Very very good book. I believe you can get it through Amazon.com. You’ll find it at some libraries as well probably.

    Peace

    Reply
  17. Joji July 22, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    The relationship between the Druze and Israel is not the same throughout the country. The Druze in Madjel Shams, near the Lebanese border (where the movie was set) do not have any great love for Israel. But the Druze in other areas, like Dalit al-Carmel closer to Haifa, are very loyal to Israel and even serve in the Israeli army.

    The second person to comment on this thread was right. About 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs, and get along well with the Jewish Israelis. Coexistence is possible in the absence of suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism.

    Reply
  18. Scooby July 22, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    Joji,

    Thanks for validating my info, however, you say “Coexistence is possible in the absence of suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism.” Give me a break! Let’s get of this “terrorism” talk which has become a convenient excuse for Israel to destroy everything that dares to stand up and speak out against its unjust policies.

    Even if we leave the plight of the Palestinians aside, go back to just one of the reasons that the people of the Middle East are not ready to believe Israel and its governments’ call for peace and acceptance: Israel’s deplorable treatment of its own non-Jewish citizens who are treated as second-class individuals.

    I go back to my original point, if Israel wants peace and acceptance, it needs to start on the inside and stop the hypocrisy. It is a racist state that is built on the misery of others. Until that changes, coexistence will be tense, at the very best.

    Regards.

    Reply
  19. 3ogla July 23, 2006 at 12:45 am

    “Coexistence is possible.”

    If this is truly possible, the Jews would have accepted Edward Said’s solution to the conflict which in my opnion is the only real solution for a lasting just peace, that solution for those that don’t know is One bi-national state.

    Unfortunatly, the Israelis (that is Jewish Israelis) want a different kind of Peace. They want a peace where they are superior to all their neighbors and treat them like crap and humiliate them and make them understand that they are powerful enough to wipe them off the map of the earth. Thats the only kind of peace the Israelis are interested in.

    And to the comment before last that said co-existance is possible only with the absence of terrorism, you are absoulotely right. As soon as the terrorist state of Israel stops its barbaric terrorism against the Palestinians and the Lebanese, then we can talk about coexistance.

    Peace

    Reply
  20. Scooby July 23, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    3ogla,

    You are absolutely correct. The One-State solution is the only fair one to current mess that we are in.

    Reply

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