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Forgiveness: book & movie recommendations

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This is a series of articles about forgiveness in preparation for Holy Land Dialogues 2020, whose theme is “Understanding Cultures, Understanding People: Forgiveness”. 

Revenge is a common enough theme in movies and books…but forgiveness? When was the last great movie you saw about forgiveness? We present our picks of books and movies – some about the Holy Land – that contain beautiful stories of people who forgave in spite of great suffering. 

Movies

The Mission (Roland Joffe, United Kingdom, 1986)

Rodrigo is a mercenary and slaver in colonial Latin America. After discovering a betrayal and taking revenge, the guilt begins to weigh on him and makes him suffer unbearably. A meeting with a Jesuit, Fr. Gabriel, and the discovery that in order to be forgiven he must first forgive himself, will change his life radically. The film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and is known for its iconic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.

The Greatest Gift (Juan Manuel Cotelo, Spain, 2018)

“Hyper-don” literally means “great gift” in Greek. This is the focus of this documentary film, which engages with testimonies from France, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, Colombia and Rwanda. The protagonists are people who in situations of extreme suffering have asked for forgiveness or have forgiven. According to the director of the film, “there is a weapon capable of ending any conflict; its constructive power is unlimited; and, moreover, it is free, but one must be very brave to use it.”

Books

Blood Brothers (Elias Chacour, 2003)
As a child, Elias Chacour lived in a small Palestinian village in Galilee, where his family lived at peace with their Jewish neighbors. But early in 1947, their idyllic lifestyle was swept away, and Elias began a years-long struggle with his love for the Jewish people and the world’s misunderstanding of his own people, the Palestinians. He found his answer in the simple, haunting words: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” In this book, Chacour blends his riveting life story with historical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Sacrifice on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity (Izzeldin Abuelaish, 2012)

Some argue that conflict in the Holy Land persists because Muslims and Jews don’t value forgiveness. This Muslim author proves them wrong. Izzeldin Abuelaish tells the inspiring and heart-breaking story of how he – after losing everything – is determined to forgive and lead by example. 

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