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Israeli storyteller emphasizes understanding others’ viewpoints

April 1, 2012
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - Being able to truly understand the viewpoint of other was the focus of Saturday's performance by internationally-known Israeli storyteller Noa Baum at United Church of Christ in New Ulm.

Baum, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, focuses her performance on four women, two Israelis and two Palestinians, who experience the region's many conflicts. The stories showed how each side grew up with the belief that people on the other side of the conflict were remorseless killers, despite never having met somebody from the other side. Each story eventually covered how they came to learn people from the other side of the conflict shared their hopes for peace or had suffered the same pain of loss from war.

Baum emphasized that a major problem was the human tendency to not want to hear about the hardships of others when you are struggling yourself.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Noa Baum, an internationally-known storyteller, gave an oral history performance Saturday night at United Church of Christ in New Ulm. Her performance emphasizes working hard to see the viewpoint of others.

"Can those who lost so much have any room for the stories of the others?" she asked during the performance.

She said it is crucial to push past that tendency and try to see the world from the viewpoint of others. She said she focused on a first-person oral history performance to get the audience to go through the same learning experience the women and herself went through. She said her hope is that it will make the audience better able to be open to the story of others.

Baum said the biggest challenges for telling her story is combating people's presumptions about her performance before they even see it. She said some Palestinians don't attend her show because they presume she couldn't share their point of view. She also pointed to a planned show in Savannah, Ga., that was cancelled because of people claiming her show was anti-Israeli for showing both sides.

However, she said she still has hope that her show will reach people and hopefully have a positive effect.

Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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