Promises is a 2001 documentary movie that has received the audience award and has been recognized as the most intensely thought and provoking film featuring the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through children’s viewpoint.
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The interaction among seven Arab and Jewish children has been displaced to define their attitudes, prejudices, and opinions about the war and conflict.
While considering the documentary project from the perspective of the Contact theory, children’s constant communication and interaction will allow them to understand and reassess different outlooks on the situation and define new course of action.
Such a perspective is justified because isolated confrontation is imposed by the firmly fixed stereotypes within one nation whereas widening bonds with other cultures can diminish prejudices, leading to efficient strategies for reducing the conflict between the identified communities.
At the beginning of the movie, the interviews of Jews and Arabs have been presented before their meeting. In these interviews, children express their indignation and opposition imposed by the ideologies and public opinion.
Nevertheless, both sides of the debate recognize that war conflict has no winners because it results in numerous deaths of peoples. The rigid criticism heard on the part of children seems to be influenced by the opinions of adults who experienced the conflict.
Thus, Arab children believe that Israeli land belongs to them whereas Israeli children firmly believe in divine power and God’s promises that the land should be owned by Jewish people. However, children’s deliberation does not have sufficient evidence to confirm that they have grounds for blaming each other.
All their convictions are premised on false stereotypes and misconceptions. Their outlook on Jewish-Palestinian conflict is also distorted by the cultural and ideological influences.
Although children originate from the opposing backgrounds, they see no substantial obstacles for getting in touch with other children. By telling different stories about their life in Jerusalem, all the children come to a conclusion that war brings in destruction, death, and despair.
Through portraying the realities, it is possible to notice how deeply the confrontation and conflict are rooted in both cultures. As Contact Theory confirms, children would still accept the possibility of talking to each other to understand the reasons for the war.
Looking through the prism of backgrounds and children’s opinion on the issue introduces no actual conflict between cultures. The confrontation is premised on the aspiration of two different governments to gain power over the land.
As soon as the direct communication is established, previous misconception disappears and children interact freely, recognizing no conflict. Such a situation justifies the theory and explains that the communication among children has been successful.
In particular, both Jewish and Arab children were talking about topics of common interest; their childlike innocence and common goals makes both sides reconsider their previous attitudes. Despite the variety of social and cultural contexts, children manage to listen to each other and express their views.
The example also proves that the issues of stereotyping and discrimination are products of isolated thinking that can be blurred as soon as the interaction starts.
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In conclusion, the Contact theory is best exemplified in the documentary film called Promises. In particular, the direct communication between Jewish and Palestinian children allowed them to diminish their stereotypic and prejudiced outlooks on each other’s culture, as well as define new common goals in the fight for peaceful existence.
It also provides a new ground for reconsidering the conflict, as well as defines the veritable reasons for military actions.