Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A New Perspective

The film  Promises (2001)  is considered one of the best documentaries ever made about the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. Winning more than 10 awards from various International Festivals, the film is guided by B.Z. Goldberg, one of the filmmakers. He shows a unique perspective on the subject when  interviewing and showcasing the lives of 7 children, each one living 20 minutes from each other and with a massive difference of opinions and beliefs.

Yarko and Faraj.

Yarko and Daniel Solan, twins that are inhabitants of West Jerusalem, and grandsons from a Jewish holocaust survivor. Their family are all very secular and religion does not imposes a huge impact on their lives.They do not face any problems when passing checkpoints since they were Jew, and this possibly created a lack of awareness of what is the situation for others, especially without any communication. Faraj Adnan Hassan Husein is a son of Palestinian refugees, and occupier of the Deheishe refugee camp in the West Bank. Faraj had a friend killed in his childhood, and that left bitter remarks of how relentless the opposition can be. This feeling growed with him, but was soon dissolved with the group interaction the kids experienced. Sanabel Hassan also lives in the Deheishe camp, and her father was in prison because he was coercing in favor of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Her brother died in a heart stroke, and also have been to prison. Her input during the group talk shows very positive aspects remarking that there should be more discussions among the children so they could find any solution. Mahmoud Mazen Mahmoud Izhiman lives in the Palestinian quarter in East Jerusalem and is a son of a coffee merchant. He believes that the lands are property of the arabs and recites passages from the Koran to justify his affirmations. Shlomo Green is an ultra-orthodox son of a Jewish rabbi, living in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. He does not have to attend to military and lives in a secluded space, without any interactions with the population who have different opinions. Moishe Bar am lives in Belt-El in the West-Bank and dislikes the Arabs. There is clearly a very strong influence of tradition from his family and from their religion that changed his perspective towards palestinians radically.


Yarko soon becomes attached to Faraj, and that is possible because religion and tradition did not had any great effect on their lives. An excellent contrast we have is Schlomo, who refused to join the meeting and favoring isolation from exterior factors. Sanabel’s attitude in spite of having heartbreaking things happening to her should be taken into notice, and made me feel more concerned with others. Even after growing, her interview (second video) shows her concern with the overall safety of the area she lives and the ones around her. There is also Yarko’s interview, with him now being in the military, and now that he is obliged and forced to cooperate with the state, he says that it does not matter his opinion, and that he is just a soldier where he obeys orders.

Living in areas where violence and prejudice are rampant is a reality all the kids mentioned face daily. This not only generates insecurities but also leads to a greater xenophobia against those who are deemed with different beliefs, traditions, and cultures.The lack of communication between Palestinians and Jews creates another barrier to overcome. As Charles Colton once said: “We hate some persons because we do not know them, and we will not know them because we hate them.” Goldberg’s idea to create a discussion place free of oppression, where the kids could openly talk about their ideas and possible solutions is most likely the best approach. By communicating, they were able to see and have a much better idea of how and why they were acting in a certain way, and to understand the opposite perspective.

Never have I been so attached and understanding to a documentary. The problems I face daily are literally nothing compared to what they endure. This really opened my global awareness and made me understand how inappropriate it is to presume there is a proper defined solution for this issue.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Racism and Prejudice

From racism to tolerance

"What does it take for someone to move from a position of hate and racism to a position of tolerance and respect like the transformation that occurred in Derek?"

During these few weeks we were discussing in class about institutionalized racism and how it was developed. Racism is a strong concurring event around the world, but nonetheless many institutions tries to aid in this never ending war against racism and afraid of differences. We watched the movie American History X, which portraits in a very interesting point of view from someone who initially got persuaded into a group where they were against black people and their culture. From this point and beyond, he never changed his opinion and after his initial thoughts on the subject, his ideas got distorted by persuasion. He kept like this until something rather interesting and unfortunately, bad happened to him that made he think about and reflect more about it.

Derek, the man in the movie, received “guidance” from his father that was negative towards the black people. He said he should not believe in everything that they say, and that demotivated Derek to listen to his black teacher. Derek grew up by these standards, making it to him seem very normal his actions against black people. After killing a man (black) who was robbing his car, he is sent to prison. There he starts to interact with the blacks and he suffers a paradigm shift in his time present in the jail. He was feeling hate and frustration on his life, taking control over him, and he wanted to change. During his time there he was raped by white mans, who were all racists, and did not accepted Derek (white man) hanging out with black mans. He then receives a visit from his ex- teacher (black), who tries to help him. Derek simply can’t hate anymore after this, because the teacher coming just to visit and aid him in such hard times gave him an much needed epiphany, changing his whole point of view about racism and how futile it is.

This is Derek.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seattle Boycott

Our educational system of today is the same used 50 years ago, and that needs to change. There is a strangely common relationship that some can make between a school and prison. In the school, they keep you seated in a place where you are spending most of your day listening to information and trying to retain as much as possible. This method already morphs into a more interacting ambient, with teachers varying their ways to teach, making it a more ‘’friendly’’ environment. I read a recent article about a school without the limitations that brings a traditional one. The concept they tried to conceive is to have more freedom in the ambience you are learning, and they created it successfully. With large areas, cushioned sofas, and teacher guidance, they were learning in a very different way. It turns that the kids were studying in a different place, where the architecture is creative, and everything around invokes creativity on the students.

The Garfield High School in Seattle have boycotted the standardized MAP tests, not handing in them to the students. This action had a great repercussion and people still talk about whether is good or not to make students take standardized tests for measuring their capacities. A point that Jesse Hagopian, graduate of Garfield High and spokesperson for the boycott said that ‘’ None of us is against accountability or rigor, we just want assessments that reflect what we teach in the classroom and that mold our students into successful participants in our various communities.‘’ What he said makes all the sense in the world. Why would you want your students to take tests that don’t reflect what they are currently learning. Its just normal to have a customized test for each learning method each school utilizes. Another interesting aspect of this boycott was that the local PTSA, and the student senate of Seattle also approved the refusal of the MAP tests.

                                                           Link to the article ''Under Pressure''
André Cartário