My So-Called Enemy. 89 min. New Day Films. 2010, released in 2013. $89. ISBN 9781574484823.
Gr 7 Up–This moving film chronicles a group of teenage Israeli and Palestinian girls committed to bridging the gaps that separate their peoples. At a summer camp experience in New Jersey, the teens begin the dialogue which will challenge them with intimate, emotional attempts at knowing “the enemy.” Starting from insistent defiance, they begin to listen to one another in the safety of a rural enclave with caring, trained counselors. Each participant hopes for a peaceful Middle East despite differences that won’t evaporate once they return home. Their work together, conducted in English, is supervised by Building Bridges for Peace, and the film follows six of them for seven subsequent years. Mandatory military service confronts Israeli Gal’s friendship with Palestinian Christian Rezan. Will their bond survive the demands of real life? Rawan moves from being a militant Arabic protestor to a devout Muslim even with her feminist views. All the girls have families who are supportive of this transformative journey, which may account for the progressive theme. However, the documentary doesn’t sugarcoat the chances for peace, but rather holds out the hope that more outreach will slowly create links that may subdue violence. Subtle, not pedantic, this film is a balanced and nuanced approach to understanding conflict. An excellent choice for students of diplomacy and world conflict, and a reminder of the power of youthful idealism to make the world a better place.–Robin Levin, Fort Washakie School/Community Library, WY