Jews and Muslims Coming Together as One
Giovanni Moujaes’ “Seeking Peace, Finding Hope” is a featurette documentary highlighting Arab and Jewish relationships between several young adults from America and Israel. “Seeking Peace, Finding Hope” documents the cumulative impact their interactions have on shaping political and cultural dialogue in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Through the Jacobs International Teen Leadership Institute and vision of Gary Jacobs, Jerri-Ann Jacobs and Yaccov Schneider, “Seeking Peace, Finding Hope” documents the intense, stimulating discussions held in Berlin, Germany. Gaza, Israel, the Holocaust, Hamas, peacekeeping, and international diplomacy are all addressed, and their affiliations rooted in the human element over history. The analysis of these topics call into question the future of millennial relationships and their impact on healthy relations between the two cultures.
However, the most powerful element of “Seeking Peace, Finding Hope” is the raw emotion displayed by each participant in the program. Ultimately, the underlying tone of the majority was a genuine desire to live together in peace with unwavering understanding and respect.
Summary of the program I followed (as mentioned on JITLI.org):
"Studies have shown that cultural gaps between Jewish Israelis and Diaspora Jews are larger than ever and continue to grow with every new generation. There is evidence of fear, apathy, lack of connection and understanding between the groups, and even a negative sentiment towards the political situation in Israel. The findings raise serious concerns for the unity and conservation of the global Jewish community.
A strong State of Israel and equally strong partnerships between Israel and Diaspora Jewry has been, and continues to be, essential. American youth in the United States, who will be the next generation of community leaders, decision makers, and philanthropists, must be familiar with Israel’s social, economic, and political issues through a framework that will allow them to act in their communities as agents of change and progress. Thus, these young leaders must understand the vital existence of Israel, as well as the critical preservation of Jews in the Diaspora. This applies to Israeli youth as well, who will become the leaders and law enforcers of their country, and its relations to other nations. The media has played an important role in creating stereotypes and making generalizations about Israel, its inhabitants, as well as world Jewry, and in fact all other world communities. Therefore, it is only through face-to-face meetings and dialogue that true connections and partnerships can be created.
Equally vital to the future of the State of Israel is the need for mutual understanding and dialogue between Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians. Israel has been at war for its entire existence, and the grim reality is that there appears to be no end in sight. One of the most difficult struggles within Israel is the concept of inclusive citizenship; while the State of Israel is a Jewish state, it is also a democracy as well as home to all of its citizens regardless of their religion. Thus, there is a need to encourage an atmosphere of coexistence and civil equality between the various communities within Israel.
In an attempt to narrow the gaps between the majority and the minority and allow these connections to be formed, JITLI stands as the sole coexistence and leadership development program that reaches the participants’ own communities and includes home visits, a paramount aspect of understanding each other's cultures and building tolerance. JITLI offers a unique opportunity for its participants to appreciate their similarities, acknowledge their differences, and learn and grow as individuals as well as leaders."