March 2019
   Peace Now film designed to remind Israeli
            voters of need to end conflict


 
Peace Now/Shalom Achshav has just released a compelling and insightful short film aimed at  prompting Israelis, who go to the polls on April 9, to think about the need for a peace process with the Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has largely been absent as an issue in this election race. Peace Now has come up with a creative way to draw attention to the subject by leveraging the 40th anniversary of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty (March 26).

The film, titled "Why I am still alive" looks at the history of war between Egypt and Israel, the huge price Israel paid through those wars, the deal that was finally reached with Egypt - hitherto its most dangerous enemy - and the great benefits Israel has enjoyed because the deal has held. 

Narrated by the charismatic Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi, the film points out that back then, when Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat were talking peace, right-wing Israeli naysayers howled in protest. A small but vocal settler movement had entrenched itself in the Sinai, conquered from the Egyptians during the 1967 war. The settlers and their allies opposed giving back a single inch, using arguments that are still current today to justify holding onto the West Bank, e.g. "the Arabs can't be trusted." Despite this opposition, Begin, a Likudnik, did what seemed unthinkable - he ordered the dismantling of Jewish settlements. Of course, in this he was supported by hundreds of thousands of Israelis who took to the streets under the banner of the newly formed Peace Now movement. In braving territorial compromise Begin gave peace a chance. As a result, countless of lives have been saved by preventing further wars with Egypt.
 
This is actually the film's departure point - the blessing of the peace dividend. The film posits the narrator as one of those countless Israelis who was able to have an ordinary life and raise a family because of the deal that Begin and Sadat signed. But what about the narrator's children? The final shot shows Lior hugging his daughter, a soldier, suggesting that she too should have a chance at a normal life.
 
Thus the film raises the issue that concerns Israelis most - security - and conveys a positive message about territorial compromise, while subtly warning against the perils of endless conflict. The film concludes with the words: "Let peace win."
 
A Peace Now statement says: "It is time we seriously discuss our political future vis-a-vis the Palestinians, especially as our current government's policies bring us precariously closer to an undemocratic one-state reality."
 
"Why I am still alive" debuted on March 24 on Israeli television and included a Channel 13 interview with Lior Ashkenazi. A popular and highly accomplished film star in Israel, Ashkenazi recently won a best actor award for his role in Foxtrot.
 
Peace Now aims to have the film viewed by one million Israelis before April 9. It is promoting the film through social media, street actions, advertising and events. Our sister organization, Americans for Peace Now, is helping raise funds to make this a reality.
 
Watch "Why I am still alive"  with English subtitles here: