TITLE: JERUSALEM ROAD
SCREENWRITER: Simone Yehuda
TAG LINE: Hate’s a curse. There’s nothing worse.
LOGLINE: A Palestinian American law student returns home after his older sister dies as a suicide bomber and is charged with obtaining the return of the family home in Jerusalem stolen from them in 1948. If he fails, his younger sister will also become a suicide bomber.
THEME: Sometimes you have to walk in each other’s shoes to solve deep-seated conflicts.
TAG LINE: Hate’s a curse. There’s nothing worse.
COMPS: SCHINDLER’S LIST meets THE THREE KINGS.
SETTING: It’s 2010. A Holocaust survivor lives in an elegant Jerusalem house. The Palestinian family, evicted from this home in 1948 lives in a West Bank refugee camp, demands their original home be returned to them.
INSPIRATION: I’m the daughter of a Holocaust survivor involved with the creation of the State of Israel. It wasn’t until I participated in a Jewish/Palestinian dialogue group as an adult that I became aware of the depth and extent of Palestinian suffering. The aim of this script is to dramatize the story of how two families overcome the intractable Israeli Palestinian conflict enough to move from enmity to a fair and heart-felt compromise.
ALI JAMEEL (26). PROTAGONIST. Ali witnessed his brother’s murder by an Israeli soldier. He was sent to live in the States with his Palestinian uncle and Israeli aunt, whose mother is a Holocaust survivor. He’s led an easy, happy life there for thirteen years. But when he returns home after his sister’s suicide bombing, he’s caught in a life and death struggle between his beloved Palestinian grandmother and his adored adoptive Holocaust survivor grandmother.
JUBRAN IBRAHIM (28). ANTAGONIST. Ali’s cousin and former best friend. He works for his father, a Hamas leader dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel. He’s arrogant and will stop at nothing to regain the family home on Jerusalem Road.
It’s a beautiful spring day in Jerusalem
- Ali’s older sister walks nonchalantly down a street in Jerusalem. She enters a shop, raises her pop can over her head to avoid the metal detector. A salesgirl comes to her dressing room with a dress for her. She realizes, too late, that the pop can holds a bomb.
Ali’s older sister dies as a suicide bomber.
Palestinians and Israelis alike are blown to bits. Rabbis, Imams and Priests pray for peace. Shattered once again, Ali returns for her funeral. His Palestinian grandmother demands that he regain the family home on Jerusalem Road as justice denied.
But Ali’s adoptive Holocaust survivor grandmother lives there.
Ali’s close to his Israeli grandmother, but there’s no way she’ll sell the only home she’s lived in since childhood. Ali learns that if he doesn’t succeed in obtaining her house as a gift outright, Jubran will recruit Ali’s younger sister to also become a suicide bomber.
Ali must find a way to make the impossible happen.
Ali tries to persuade his Holocaust survivor grandmother, but not only does Israeli law forbid the selling of a home to a Palestinian, as a Holocaust survivor, the Jerusalem Road house is the only home she’s had since her liberation from Auschwitz. She reminds him that Palestinians have been evicted from their homes only once, whereas her people have been exiled over and over again. He listens and becomes aware of his ignorance. She recognizes she, as well, has been blind to the suffering of the Palestinians. She relents and agrees to sell her house.
The offer to sell the house rejected.
Unfortunately, Jubran and his father expect the house to be a gift outright. Ali realizes the situation is hopeless. His one idea is that if they could really listen to each other’s experiences – maybe, just maybe, they could try to walk in each other’s shoes, and come to some kind of agreement.
SUCCESS! Everyone signs a shared house agreement.
At a two-family get together, the grandmothers deliver each other’s stories in their own voices. Everyone, even Jubran, is so moved that they sign the shared house agreement. Ali’s beyond thrilled. When Jubran announces that he and Ali’s younger sister have become engaged, a celebration is planned.
Ali learns there’s a bomb threat.
At the Men’s Gathering adjacent to the Engagement Party, Ali overhears Jubran’s father, furious about the shared house agreement, force Jubran to persuade Nissan to join him in a suicide bombing at their wedding. The bride’s bouquet will contain the bomb, which will be detonated before they take their vows. However, she doesn’t realize that Jubran plans to abandon her at the last moment. Although Ali’s able to foil the bomb’s detonation and save his sister’s life, her heart is broken.
Ali oversees the renovations to the Jerusalem Road house to accommodate both grandmothers’ needs. But Nissan has isolated from everyone in shame and grief. Ali finally succeeds in persuading her to come to the renovated-house celebration. When Nissan first lays eyes on the house, her eyes open in awe.