I also wanted to eliminate my own stereotypes and misconceptions and just see the people living there as people and not monsters or whatever theyve been portrayed as to us, she says.
The result is Sucha Normal Thing, an 80-minute film to be shown this Monday, July 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Traverse Area District Library as part of the ongoing Mideast: Just Peace film series.
Glotfelty, 36, feels her film is distinguished by the fact that it doesnt lean heavily on shock-value anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian viewpoints, which is often the case with many documentaries.
A lot of documentaries about the West Bank just continue the stereotypes we have about the people living there, she notes. Most of them dont show the good things the Palestinians are involved in, such as agriculture. Its a disservice to the Palestinians because theyre doing a remarkable job under the conditions they have to work with.
35 HOURS ON FILM
Glotfelty is the head of Real People Productions in Charlevoix, where she and her husband Chester Morris own the Cycling Salamander art gallery. She traveled with a Traverse for Peace citizens group last fall to interview farmers, street merchants, government workers, Israeli soldiers, hospital staff, and family members of Palestinians and Israelis killed in the conflict, among others. She shot 35 hours of digital film over a four-week period, and then spent three months editing her material.
The video is a very accurate portrayal of what the trip was like and what a day is like in Israel, she says. Its not just negative -- it has scenes like those of kids playing football. Although I think the occupation is wrong, the film shows both the Palestinians and Israelis doing things that many would object to.
Glotfelty is no stranger to the Mideast. Originally from Marshall, she studied Arabic for two years as an undergrad and then spent nine months at the American University in Cairo doing graduate studies in sociology and international relations. With a background in Mideast studies, shes traveled throughout the region, including a stint in Jordan after the first Gulf War when anti-American sentiment was strong.
What surprised her most about the trip
I was surprised on the Palestinian side that there wasnt this blanket hatred of the Jews or Israelis, she says. Some told me they wanted to learn Hebrew because they enjoyed the language... Because so many men have been imprisoned there, they already know a smattering of Hebrew.
Unfortunately, a few extremely angry people on both sides tend to drive the debate, urging propaganda viewpoints like the notion that the Palestinians wont be happy until the Israelis are driven into the sea. Those sentiments only serve to keep the violence percolating, Glotfelty says.
A number of Palestinians I talked to thoroughly recognize that the state of Israel is there and is going to be there, she says. Theres a greater acceptance of Israel than is acknowledged by both sides.
There are some Palestinians who dont want to recognize Israel at all or its right to exist, she adds. But the overwhelming majority of people there would agree to a land swap or compensation in some way, rather than the right to return.
Another unexpected benefit of the trip was that Glotfelty was able to reassess her own feelings on the Mideast.
Its easy to get caught up in the beheadings and the Islamic fundamentalism and believe thats who the Arabs are, she says. I had to overwhelm my own prejudices and felt a lot less fear when I was actually there. You realize that there are very few people who are the extremists, and also with the Israelis too. I met a lot of people on both sides and it did a lot to extinguish the prejudices I had.
Sucha Normal Thing, a documentary showing ordinary people dealing with daily life amid the violence in Palestine, will be presented by Mideast: Just Peace at the Traverse Area District Library in Traverse City on Monday, July 5, at 6:30 p.m. Free, with goodwill offerings accepted.
THE YOUTH VOTE
A new outfit in the area called The Soapbox Coalition hopes to mobilize 18-to-30-year-olds to vote in the upcoming election. This Tuesday, June 29, the group will host a cocktail party from 5-8 p.m. at the Dennos Museum in TC, featuring Republican County Chair Kate Stephen and Democratic County Chair Lynne Larson. All are welcome to attend.
The nonpartisan Soapbox Coalition hopes to transition young adults into young voters by getting them up to speed on the political process.
“ In a nation that seems politically divided as never before, the largest bloc of unclaimed voters is made up of 18-to-30-year-olds,“ says Scott OLeary, regional ambassador for the group. “Weve been getting a lot of attention lately, and its overdue. Traverse City and the rest of the country should focus on the attitudes and expectations of its young adults. After all, we fight its wars, support its economy and will, ultimately, shoulder its debt.“
GOT YOUR BACK...
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) voted to get tough on ID theft by supporting the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act last week.
Under the proposed legislation, two new categories of thefts will be created: aggravated identity theft, which will include stolen identities used to commit certain crimes, and insider identity theft, which covers thefts committed by persons in positions of trust - such as a co-worker or someone in charge of databases with personal info. Tougher penalties for faking identities will range from two-five years in prison.
B. L. Thompson TC