'WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE' is a film about personal responses to trauma. It explores how after such pain, some people go on to develop strengths they never had before.
Through my lens as a trauma psychologist we meet individuals whose child or parent was killed in one of the world's most unrelenting conflicts. But instead of finding hate or despair, we discover Bushra, Rami, Meytal, and Bassam, all transforming their loss into reconciliation.
Although they face opposition at every turn, from family, community, threatening extremists and their own governments, they never give up. For the experience of trauma has changed them - each glimpsed the nobility of their enemy and their broken hearts are now filled with the wisdom of pain and compromise.
We follow Bushra, Rami, Meytal, and Bassam through heartbreaking pain, internal struggles and courageous shifts in thinking, stirring us to hope. This story about building peace with your enemy, about the possibility of private transformation and political change speaks to us all.
Four courageous people
'I want to give my children a future in this place, a future of coexistence. I want to give them hope, not as a slogan, but as a real thing.'
Whose father was axed to death in his garden.
'Our strength derives from our intolerable pain, which has the power of nuclear energy. You can use this power in revenge or you can use it to create hope and connection.'
Whose daughter was blown up as she was getting books for the new school year
'This is how to use your pain and your own tragedy to build a bridge between people, to honor my daughter.'
Whose daughter was shot dead as she shared sweets with her sister
'I'm here on the path to peace. Our tears are the same tears, our pain the same pain.'
Whose teenage son was shot and killed just outside his home
Through my lens
As the writer-director of ‘WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE’ I’m also a child and adult trauma psychologist. Over the last eight years I’ve been working with Israeli and Palestinian children and their familities in the pediatric department of a large Jerusalem hospital.
When I met Bushra, Meytal, Bassam and Rami, people whose child or parent were killed in the conflict, I realised that having lost those dearest to them they will forever experience life through this open wound. And yet, despite walls of overwhelming opposition, they are transforming their pain into a bridge for understanding.
Their stories are not just personal; they’re also intensely political. These four people all belong to an extraordinary grassroots organisation of traumatised people; ‘Israeli Palestinian Bereaved Families’ working hard to change the culture of conflict. A very current and stirring model of posttraumatic growth and building peace with your enemy, their experiences speak to others who struggle with pain and conflict. Today Rami mobilizes demonstrations against violence, Bushra and Meytal talk peace with Israeli and Palestinian women and Bassam speaks to high school students.
Through my lens as a trauma psychologist I set out on a journey to understand the enormous changes Bushra, Meytal, Bassam and Rami went through. How did these people, enemies who lost those dearest to them, transform so as to face the other and talk peace?
Listening to their interviews again and again I saw common threads emerging – universal themes such as; what happens when you meet the human face of the other, the process of post-traumatic growth, how identities change – they are no longer simply a Muslim Palestinian facing a Jewish Israeli – they are now a bereaved parent hurting the same pain as a bereaved parent from the other side.
I saw how Bushra, Rami, Bassam and Meytal are broken hearted, but I began to realise it’s their very brokenness that makes them open in their hearts; most able to understand the pain of the other, recognise the cost of conflict and the need for compromise.
Their story of transforming trauma into growth is moving and universally relevant. And as a model for conflict resolution they are inspiring. Because if, having paid the highest price they’re working together to end conflict, maybe others can too.
But few people have heard of them - this film takes you there.
Psychological trauma is increasing across the world.
Living with ongoing conflict increases trauma. In Israel and Palestine up to 30% of people suffer from PTSD.
Trauma affects people physiologically, emotionally, cognitively and socially in ways that can intensify conflict.
Seeing yourself as a victim, anger, depression and isolation interfere with recovery from trauma. Telling your story and being witnessed, creating meaning out of your experience and finding community promote recovery.
Israeli–Palestinian Bereaved Families provide such a community. They nurture conflict resolution and enable trauma to be witnessed and pain transformed into meaning.
Past efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have failed due to grassroots violence and a lack of political courage. There is a desperate need to change the culture of conflict, reduce fear and mistrust and build empathy - exactly what Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families work hard to do. But few people across the world have heard of them and they’re not having the impact they should.
Both Israeli and Palestinian governments oppose them. Relying totally on donations, now a third of their budget has been slashed as President Trump cut funding to all co-existence groups.