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Palestinian coworkers were delusional. This is when Ayad started to shift from taking a pro-
Palestinian position.
When there is a contextual change, a person’s identity starts to shift. In Ayad’s case, his
version of the “truth” was based on the social construction of having relational insider
knowledge about the cruelty of Saddam. I can only speak of Ayad’s recognition of the
major identity plot-points where he was changing. There is an assumption that he also
provided an alternative viewpoint to his fellow coworkers at the newspaper in Jerusalem
even though they may not have been receptive at that time. The ability to be heard
requires mutual coordination with others and an openness to listen to a dialogue that may
be profoundly different.
Although dialogue has the potential to reach across borders and to heal world conflicts,
Ken Gergen admits that “languages of science faith, personal experience, divine
illumination, reason and so on, all function to protect, sustain, and expand particular
traditions. Discourses of ‘is true,’ ‘is real,’ ‘is moral,’ and the like, all have the capacity to
drive wedges between people” (Gergen, 2009, p. 370).
Yet there is increasing evidence that discord can be bridged with dialogue. There are many
interesting initiatives here and overseas that are sponsoring transformative discussions that
bring people together. When I lived in Los Angeles over a decade ago, the Cousins Club
was a forum where Arab and Jewish conversations were taking place. The Center for
Restorative Justice & Peacemaking promotes open dialogue between Jews and
Palestinians with clear guidelines for active listening. Click the following links to access
websites: The Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking
(http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/rjp/Arab_Palestinian_Jewish_Project/default.asp);
The evidence of change is through individuals willing to sit down, to try and bridge divides,
and to hear from the heart. Having taught documentary film over the yeas, I am amazed at
the multiplicity of stories that come from a deep, personal place. These documentarians
construct powerful narratives in the hope that the kernels of “truth” can sprout change. I
am always careful to remind students that documentaries are not necessarily “the truth”
but someone’s version of “the truth.” -- and that’s the truth on truth.
Shaping the Context: 9/11 Was About Arab Fascism and Not About Islam
Ayad is not a supporter of President Obama, to say the least, and dislikes his politics. I
ask, “Do you feel as though he’s not a supporter of the Arab world?” He responds, “In his
way he is, because he’s a ‘Third Worldist,’ as I was. You remember how I was. I’d run
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