Peeling The Onion


Is it possible to achieve peace in a world where the air is “too angry to breathe?”  Peeling The Onion (working title TRT 90 min.) Spotlights the Middle East covering history of the region from 1914 - 2014.  Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari and Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman are among the international representatives, politicians, historians, and scholars who peel back layers of international laws, policies, religion, and world events that have shaped this area known as “The Holy Land,” a complex community rich in potential and steeped in tragedy.

Six individual “chapters,” (TRT 30 min. each) construct a collage that illustrates how these elements impact the lives of residents in the region. It is a slice of life in each country from their perspectives.

Peeling Jordan (TRT 30 min.) Formerly Trans-Jordan (1921-1946), seventy-five percent of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has Palestinian heritage.  Its geographic area was once part of “historic Palestine.”  As its population grows, compounded with a flood of refugees pouring over its desert borders, how can the country maintain stability and solve its water shortages?

Peeling Palestine (TRT 30 min.) More than 65 years have passed since the event Palestinians refer to as Nakba (1949) displaced 170,000 Palestinians from their homes. That number today tops 8 million.  This is largely due to failed peace negotiations and also the definition of a “Palestine refugee.”  In order to move forward, the politically splintered Palestinian government must find a way to bring unity and make decisions that future generations will accept.  Who are the Palestinian children and what might their futures entail? Rida, Agnes, Mohamad, and others who carry the burden of their fathers’ war show what daily life is for them. They share their hopes and dreams.

Peeling Israel (TRT 30 min.) Although the prospect of peace seems viable, it has eluded Israelis since their War of Independence (1947-1949). Recognized as a State by the United Nations in 1949, Israel has been at war with one or more of its neighboring countries for over six decades.  As the last survivors of the Holocaust pass and new generations shape the country, how might they change their future so they can enjoy the security they seek?

Peeling Lebanon (TRT 30 min.) Holding a clear glass of cool water, so simple and desirable, Wajdi Mouawad compares it to pre-civil-war Lebanon.  He then drops the glass, which shatters and clearly can never be restored.  This is his example of Lebanon after war ravaged his native country.  During and after colonization by France (1924-1946), Lebanon enjoyed the title “Paris of the Orient.”  It’s strategic location allowed residents to benefit from a tax-free life, grace of the many merchants and travelers that passed through its ports, until civil war (1975-1990) and occupation by Syria (1976 – 2005) brought the country to its knees.  How might Lebanon benefit from peace?

Peeling Syria (TRT 30 min.) Prior Syria’s civil war (2011- present) now raging in this divided country, Bashar Ja'afari, current Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations presented Syria’s position that, “No refugee should remain a refugee his entire life.”  As millions of Syrian refugees pour over the borders of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, threatening the stability of these countries, does Syria hold this same conviction?

Peeling Egypt (TRT 30 min.) From 1948-1967 Gaza was under Egyptian military rule. After the Six Days and Yom Kippur Wars Gaza fell under Israeli rule, along with the Sinai Peninsula. In 1979 Anwar Sadat signed a peace agreement with Israel and the two countries have cooperated since. How might peace in the region enable Egypt’s new government provide for its new generations?

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts