In Partners for Peace we travel to communities in Israel and Palestine with a delegation of 13 women who have come together, under the leadership of Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire. Their common purpose is to learn about the conflict and to explore how they may support the often invisible work of Israeli and Palestinian women, who are working to advance peace.

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We meet four of the delegates and main characters in the film and follow the journey through their eyes: Jaclyn Friedman feels she has neglected understanding the conflict more fully and her role as an American Jew; Jody Williams, a grassroots activist and Nobel Prize recipient for her role on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, has focussed on the region at the urging of her friend and fellow Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire; Lauren Embrey, a philanthropist from Texas, is committed to supporting women’s rights and wants to learn and hear from the people themselves; and, Mairead Maguire who received the Nobel Prize in 1976 for her work to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, is deeply committed to advancing peace in the region and to justice for Palestinian people, and spearheaded the delegation.
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Along with the delegates, we spend time with Israeli and Palestinian groups listening to how the conflict impacts their everyday lives – and their own work towards peace. At Isha L’Isha, an Israeli feminist group, the delegates learn about the need to broaden understanding of what security means in Israel, threats don’t just come from outside, what about economic security and civil liberties? At the Coalition of Women for Peace, Eilat Moaz challenges assumptions about settlement construction and outlines the benefits to the Israeli economy. Parents Circle Families Forum builds understanding and bonds between Israelis and Palestinians through their common experiences of loss, in their view, essential to long-term reconciliation; and others.

Over and over, the message conveyed by the women they encounter is, “hear our voices, we need your help”. Jaclyn is particularly affected by what all of the women are saying. She identifies with them, they are familiar, this is not a foreign land.

sidebar-250x150-P1030977 But one of the group’s members is missing. Detained when she tried to enter Israel, Mairead Maguire struggles to join them, even thwarting an early deportation attempt when she sits down on the tarmac, refusing to get on the plane. While the others carry on in her absence she struggles to defend her rights and get her message out. The uncertainty about how her story will play out weighs heavily on the other delegates.
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Along the way the delegates also meet some compelling individuals: Mustafa Barghouthi, a Palestinian doctor, politician, and democracy activist, shares his views of the history of the conflict; Sahar Vardi, a young woman who was jailed for refusing mandatory military service, is a voice against evictions of Israeli Palestinians; Israela Oron and Talia Sasson, both who had high-level responsibilities in the Israeli Defence Force and government respectively, share their views about what a future peace could be; and, in a brief visit to the hillsides above the Israeli-built settlements Hagit Ofrani, who bravely carries on despite death threats and intimidation, outlines the extent of settlement expansion.

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The journey goes well beyond a simple visit by outsiders looking in. The women are confronted by the harshness of life for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas, shocked by the economic inequalities they witness, the unrelenting and sometimes brutal separations between people, the vastness of settlement construction, and the fear, the trauma of loss, tragically common on both sides of the divide. What they see and hear is deeply unsettling. Fuelled by their growing realization of the desperation and urgency of the situation, the journey reaches a dramatic peak in a confrontation between Jaclyn and a group of women who live in a settlement outside Jerusalem. No longer comfortable to listen and learn Jaclyn is compelled to engage and she does, it’s an emotional ride.

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Partners for Peace offers a rare window on the work of women at the grassroots in Israel and Palestine, doing the hard, often invisible and unreported work of building peace. Their efforts play outside governmental and international peace efforts, sharply contrasting and challenging those efforts by revealing the injustices of the current situation and bridging common ground between Israelis and Palestinians. Jaclyn, who sees great hope in the work of these women says, “These are women with ideas about how to get out of this mess . .. in reality there are almost infinite partners for peace, we’re just not asking the right people to the table.

Partners for Peace is narrated by actor Marisa Tomei and is 101 minutes long.

 

 Main Characters & Delegates
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Jaclyn Friedman, Executive Director, Women, Action, Media!

Jaclyn is a writer, performer, pundit, activist, and editor of the hit books Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape. A commentator on numerous radio and television shows, her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The American Prospect, Feministing.com, and Huffington Post. The New Leaders Council named Jaclyn one of 2009’s Top 40 Progressive Leaders Under 40.

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Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate

Jody received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban antipersonnel landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). Since 2006, Jody has channelled her efforts for promoting sustainable peace through the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which she chairs. She is a public speaker and prolific writer, and is the author of a newly released book about her work for social justice, My Name Is Jody Williams.

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Lauren Embrey, President, Embrey Family Foundation

Lauren takes issues that particularly affect women – including domestic human trafficking, leadership development, and gender equity – and tackles them through strategic funding. As President and CEO of the Embrey Family Foundation, she directs grants and supports multiple organizations that provide services to mothers, women and children. In 2009, Lauren received the Women that Soar Award for Philanthropy and the Champion of Human Rights Award.

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Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

Mairead was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her extraordinary actions to end the sectarian violence in her native Northern Ireland. She has since dedicated her life to promoting peace and justice around the world. Mairead regularly travels to Palestine and Israel to support local activists in their struggle for human rights, equality, and nonviolence.

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Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Co-Director, Yedidya Center for Jewish Spiritual Direction

Amy is a frequent speaker in congregations across the United States on Jewish spirituality, peace- making, and Jewish feminism. In 1985, she became the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Amy remains deeply engaged in the peace and reconciliation efforts in Israel-Palestine, as well as on wider issues of conflict in the Jewish community.

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Ann Patterson, Trustee, Peace People

Ann is a family therapist at the Quaker Center in Belfast where she provides counselling and support for families from divided communities. She co-founded Peace People, a pacifist movement that played a critical role in promoting the peace process in Northern Ireland. Ann has acted as an independent observer in numerous war-torn countries, previously visiting Palestine in support of the local peace-builders and human rights activists.

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Janaan Hashim, Lawyer, Amal Law Group LLC

Janaan is a criminal lawyer at the first law firm founded in the United States by Muslim women. Previously she served as an assistant defender at the Illinois State Appellate Defender’s Office. Janaan often appears as a guest speaker on issues affecting Muslims, Islam, and women’s rights in Islam. Her talk show can be found on the first radio call-in show produced by Muslims for mainstream America.

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Kathleen McIntire, Philanthropist & Healer

Kathleen is a passionate teacher and healer, committed to women’s issues. With a background in business, she is the owner and founder of MoonBear Sanctuary, a retreat center located on 28 acres in Northern California. Kathleen is currently writing a book, “The Healing of Humpty Dumpty,” that focuses on bringing the feminine back into wholeness.