Within the Eye of the Storm

Institute History

  • 2010 Sundance Documentary Film Grant


Bassam and Rami, a Palestinian and Israeli, were once dedicated fighters willing to kill and be killed by one another for the sake of their nations. Yet each one of them came face to face with the price of war when their daughters were killed in the conflict. Left with the excruciating pain of bereavement, they chose to do the unexpected. They set out on a joint journey to humanize the very enemy, which took the dearest thing from them and prevent the vicious cycle of retaliation in themselves and their societies. Along the way they reveal the friendship and humor that keeps them alive.

Bassam lives on the outskirts of Jerusalem in Anata with his family. Hearing him speak publicly in front of a crowd of Israeli men and women, it is hard to imagine, he spent 7 years tortured in Israeli prisons as a teenager, for throwing stones and hand grenades. When Bassam was released from prison he initiated a movement called ‘Combatants For Peace’ along with other Palestinian and Israeli combatants. A year later his daughter was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by an Israeli army police soldier. She was walking with her sister outside her school. Now over 3 years later Bassam is still determined to meet the man who claimed her life and seek justice, yet at the same time he continues to meet soldiers who have committed similar crimes. He did not abandon his ideals and refuses to play victim but finds himself in a paradox which most of his community struggles to understand.

Rami lives in the heart of Jerusalem with his family. The son of a Holocaust survivor, he served in the army and fought in numerous wars, where he lost many of his comrades in battle. In 1997 his daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing, whilst walking with her two school friends in Jerusalem. Rami’s life turned 180°. He chose not to avenge her death, but also refused to become a statistic, another bereaved parent painfully accepting the situation. Instead, he became a leading member of the ‘The Parents circle’ a group of Israeli and Palestinian individuals who lost relatives to the conflict. For Rami hope is not a choice but a necessity. Speaking publicly in various Israeli and Palestinian forums with Bassam, has become his reason for getting up in the morning. But Rami now faces a massive challenge as his son Yigal is being drafted to the army and he is torn between his duties as a father and his commitment to his life mission. Rami fears his son will end up doing the very thing that he is fighting so hard to prevent in others.

The film follows their two parallel stories and the moments where they converge, both in their personal experiences and peace work as they face their shattered families, confused communities and opposing society. This is a critical junction in both their lives, as their life mission and personal agenda clash and they stand the biggest test to their friendship.


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