On a warm California summer evening, August 1, 2003 the Wine Country Film Festival hosted 200 Jews, Palestinians, and supportive others in Sonoma County's largest-ever step toward Arab-Jewish relationship-building
     The newspaper titled its article: EXTENDING THE BRANCH -- The Wine Country Film Festival charts its own road map to peace. 


     The women, men, and youth attendees at the beautiful Kunde Vineyard were each presented with symbolic, freshly-cut olive branches.
     There was olive oil tasting, delicious Middle Eastern foods, and spirit-raising music from Sonoma's own newly-formed Salaam-Shalom Middle East Peace Band, whose convenor is Lorraine Segal ( LSegal@WebPerception.com ).
     At a stunning moment, a Palestinian and Jew initiated the release of dozens of white doves into the late afternoon sky.
     As the sun began setting, the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group of San Mateo then offered a one-hour panel presentation including audience participation.
     Then Festival Director Stephen Ashton came to the stage to gift two olive trees. The recipients were Palestinian panelist, Joy Totah Hilden, and Israeli panelist, Irit Weir. 
     In a powerful gesture, the Jew and Arab then exchanged their trees and embraced, and later took the trees home for their separate Dialogues to plant, in Napa and in Berkeley.
     Writer-Director Hanna Elias ( hannalatif@hotmail.com ) and Producer Kamran Elahian ( Kamran@gc-partners.com ) culminated the night with their exquisite film The Olive Harvest, a love story that includes a metaphor about two peoples authentic, abiding love for the same beautiful land.  More about the film is at http://www.theoliveharvest.com/ .
     Hanna and Kamran stayed with the audience into the night with heartfelt exchanges about the film, the two peoples, and our shared future. 
     Then everyone went home, many to continue deepening in their understanding and relationships.


     Photos are on the Web at http://www.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32a76a4e4df .
     It was a day of music, film, food, generosity, and ceremony -- all around people seeking a very high road together.
     You could do this where you live.
                --L&L