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Encounter Point

Encounter Point

Issue 57 June 2009

Encounter Point by Ronit Avni
Review by Rehan Malik


It is hard to calculate whether more words or blood have been spilt over Israel/Palestine. It eats away with cancerous design at our fundamental beliefs of right eventually triumphing over might. Yet for Encounter Point, a reconciliation group formed by the families of those killed in the conflict, belief forms the very heart of their mission; that by bringing those bloodied by the feud together, in the unlikeliest of encounters, deep in the heart of “enemy territory” – no matter how entrenched their views and hardened their hearts - seeds of understanding can be sown.

     emel met some of the brave voices behind this group who are touring the world with their message of hope, captured in the film of the same name. The fitting venue was a conference room at Regent’s Park Mosque, which surprisingly seemed to be hosting as many members from London’s Jewish community as muslims.

We were taken back to visceral reality of the conflict through Israeli film maker Ronit Avni’s unfussy lens, who captured the impassioned zeal with which an Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother, a wounded Palestinian (who also lost his brother), all key members of Encounter Point, risked their safety and public standing within their communities to single-mindedly leap across the battle-lines. We witness the daily grind; the seeming glacial inevitability of permanent disengagement, which Encounter Point chips away at, like determined drops of rain hoping to one day melt this conflict away. We meet bloodied families, wives, brothers and youngsters whose entrenched views sting with dark humour borne of resignation and yet witness how simple it is to challenge views and find the tiniest of cracks for reconciliation; if it is offered with the understanding and empathy that Encounter Point brings.

You see, the greatest cause for hope is that, upon meeting them, you realise that these aren’t utopian fringe cultists whose message would be easy to dismiss by the mainstream, but former hard-liners, avowed Zionists and Palestinian fighters, the very cold warriors whose barriers need to be broken down; these are people who have come to a realisation, through pragmatism, that coexistence is the only sane alternative to stem the horrors of continued conflict and bereavement.

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