Rollercoaster 15/01/15

Yesterday evening I spoke to Hossam and Jamal, directors of Theatre for Everybody in Gaza.  We are all looking forward to Sunday 18th January in three days time when we will be having a public skype conversation at the event at Rich Mix that starts at 3pm with a reading of extracts from a stage adaptation of Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy.  Get tickets

This is a benefit for War and Peace: Gaza (Palestine) – London (UK), a part of our ten-year partnership of cultural and creative exchange.

I have been exploring all ways and means to get support, help and advice in trying to get the required permission to enter Gaza through the Eres Crossing in February.  I am hoping to spend 9 days there after being in Ramallah, Palestine, working with Caryl Churchill and Ashtar Theatre on Love and Information.

It was possible to get into Gaza through Egypt and the Rafah crossing until the army ousted Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, in July 2013.

Now it’s only possible to get there through Israel but unless you have special contacts and liaison with the Israelis this is very difficult.  I had a Gaza entry application form from the Israelis from a former attempt and it had a telephone number on it.  I rung it and talked to somebody from the Israeli Co-ordination and Liaison Administration to the Gaza Strip.  He wondered how I’d got the number and told me kindly that Eres wasn’t a check-point it was a crossing.  I thought that was nice. He said only organisations registered with the Israeli Ministry of Interior were given permits and told me to go through their web-site. I’ve requested an application form but they haven’t yet accepted my log-in name and password.  The British Council have referred me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidelines. They will provide ‘comfort’ letters to facilitate travel to the West Bank but Gaza is another country. Their official and personal advice is: don’t go.

My friend Steve Tiller was invited by Theatre Day, a children’s theatre company started by Dutch theatre practitioners decades ago.  He got into Gaza because this company has a liaison with the Israelis and maybe are registered with the Ministry of Interior.  I asked them for help but they told me that they couldn’t because I wouldn’t be under their protection in Gaza.  Read about Steve’s trip last year.

I was feeling completely despondent. Nobody was offering me any help or support.  I decided it was really impossible.  And then yesterday, in response to a request that I had made to the PLO Mission here in London, the Cultural Attache called me and started to describe what they could do to get me to meet the right people in Ramallah to secure the liaison with the Israelis.  I was overjoyed.  It is by no means certain that I can get in but at least there is a chance.

Going to Gaza is important to sustain our project. Talking to Hossam and Jamal I expressed the feeling that maybe we had taken on too much in seeking to base a piece of work on Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  Hossam has produced an Arabic translation of the version created by Erwin Piscator fro a production at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin in the mid-1950s.  If you are interested in this translation please contact Az Theatre.

The workshops Theatre for Everybody had planned were made impossible by the war last year.  They were to collaborate with the French Institute but the people who worked there have left.  People are exhausted.  The cultural, social and human infrastructure is in ruins.

So I asked them if it was not better to change the aim of the project and to undertake work with young people using perhaps the themes from the book.

Both Jamal and Hossam told me they would be disappointed not to pursue our aim, that there were already projects in Gaza working with young people and that they saw this War and Peace project as a unique inspiration to produce theatre.

We started talking about the basic themes and the structure of the story and how it was about a friendship between two men, Pierre and Andrei, who were quite different.  One was inclined towards peace and the other was inclined towards war.  We talked about how friendships were often between people who were radically different.  So why did these two men react so differently to their situation and what were the forces at work on them that drew them together?

Suddenly the story began to light up with significance.

They told me that they would be starting their work very soon and that they would build the company almost one person at a time.  We agreed it was very important in the circumstances to use the work to build up creative relationships and that the aim should be to make contact with the key movements in the story rather than obeying strictly the requirements of the text.

Our project is characterised by this feeling of being on a rollercoaster. At one moment everything seems impossible and at the next, because of the human contact and shared basic aims, everything seems possible again.

Who knows?  In mid-February I may be joining them in Gaza and we will be working together to develop our production of War and Peace!

 

 

Nothing is happening in Gaza 8/01/2015

8 January 2015

I asked my friends, Hossam and Jamal, how was the New Year in Gaza.

They are the directors of Theatre for Everybody with which Az Theatre is in partnership.  We first worked together in 2002 when Az brought a number of theatre companies from different countries together at the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, Romania.  This was the start of our War Stories project.  In 2009 we started our ten-year partnership with Hossam and Jamal’s company.  The latest phase is War and Peace: Gaza (Palestine) – London (UK).  You can buy tickets for our upcoming event at Rich Mix on Sunday 18th January at 3pm. This will be a reading of a stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s last novel, Resurrection read by Philip Arditti, Annabel Capper,Tom Clark, Tom Chadwick, Deborah Findlay, Zaydun Khalaf, Elsa Mollien, David Mumeni, Andrea Smith Valls, Maggie Steed and Jennie Stoller and then there will be a video link conversation with our friends in Gaza.  Read more about our presentation of Resurrection

 

Jamal told me that the special gift for Gaza’s New Year was a brand new power cuts schedule that would mean even shorter periods of connection, 6 hours in every 24.  Things are getting worse in Gaza and most people stayed at home to welcome in the New Year.  They lit candles not to celebrate but because there was no electricity.

Then Hossam sent me this message:

Dear Jonathan,
What to say??!!! Things in Gaza have became too much that we feel talking about it is useless.  They drove us to despair. Nothing is happening, nothing at all. Nothing good, nothing bad. Nothing moves, nothing stops, nothing improves, nothing deteriorates, nothing. The only thing that’s happening is …. Nothing.
This nothingness is killing.
Less electricity, is a detail
No reconstruction, is a detail
Children dying burnt by a candle, is a detail
More than 10.000 people still living in schools as shelters, is a detail
UN Security Council rejecting the Palestinian proposal for a state, is a detail
Hundreds of thousands of people without jobs, is a detail
Judicial killing for robbery, is a detail
Hamas refusing to hand over power to the unity government, is a detail
Fatah refusing to pay Hamas public service staff salaries, is a detail
Sick people dying because they could not travel to seek health treatment, is a detail
Students losing the chance to continue their education as Rafah crossing is closed, is a detail
People drowning in the sea while trying to get some kind of life outside of Gaza, is a detail
My daughter Salma spending 2 weeks mid-year vacation at home as there is no place to go and spend some leisure time, is a detail
Houses drowning in the storm, is a detail
Nothing is happening, nothing.
This nothingness is killing us.
Gaza is not a prison. As someone said, in prison, food is guaranteed; in prison, safety is almost guaranteed; in prison, lights are guaranteed; in prison, meeting families from the outside is guaranteed.
In Gaza we are living the war, and between war and war. Nothing is happening, just waiting for the coming war.
You know what is most dangerous about this nothingness???
In the nothing, you can expect nothing but can you live without expectation?!
They put us in a status of waiting for death to come, to live with no hope, to lose the meaning of being alive, what is the point???
People have even lost the ability to revolt, or even complain or express themselves.
If you are in Gaza now days, 90% of what people are talking about is: electricity on, electricity off. 6 hours, no 8 hours, no less than 5 hours! What a subject to talk about most of the time??!!!
Nothing, my dear, nothing is happening.

 

How are you? How’s it going? 13/12/14

Blog from Jonathan Chadwick

The conversation started as it usually does with: ‘How are you?  How’s it going?’ The answer the whole world over, even in Gaza, is the same:  ‘Fine.  We’re fine, my dear’.  And we talked like friends anywhere.

It is only later that I ask:  ‘So how are things in Gaza?’

I am talking via skype to Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al Rozzi from Theatre for Everybody in Gaza.

How do you get a sense of what’s happening in a given place at a given time?  If someone asks: ‘How are things in London?’ How subjective would my remarks be?  Would they really tell anyone anything other than how I was feeling?

Our project is a ten-year partnership between Az Theatre (London, UK) and Theatre for Everybody (Gaza, Palestine), the latest phase of which, is to collaborate on the production in Gaza of an original Arabic stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. You can find out about the event we organised at Rich Mix, London in September to get support for this project here and you can read about audience reactions here.

War and Peace: Gaza (Palestine)/London (UK) is definitely a way of people keeping in touch with what’s happening in Gaza.  A part of this blog consists of messages from Gaza during the recent war (Follow the messages from Gaza June- September 2014 from the beginning).  Our September event had a live video link conversation with Hossam and Jamal.  And our next event on Sunday 18th January at Rich Mix, a public reading of a stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s last novel, Resurrection, will also be followed by a live video link conversation with them. Find out more. Buy tickets.

If you want an authoritative updated report on the situation in Gaza, you can read the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs: Occupied Palestinian Territories Report on the Protection of Civilians from the 2nd-8th December here.

So Hossam and Jamal told me how things were in Gaza.  They talked about the suspension of cleaning services in the hospitals due to disagreements between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; the same problem has interrupted the supply of cooking oil to Gaza; in order to balance ‘government expenditures’ Hamas have imposed a tax on cement and this was slowing up reconstruction work; Da’esh (‘What? There’s ISIS in Gaza? I exclaimed) had distributed leaflets outside the University threatening young women if they didn’t ‘cover up’, the same organisation had threatened writers not to contravene religious propriety; there was such chaos in the environment that life was increasingly unbearable and so people naturally turned towards hopes for life after death.

Their friends in the Basma Theatre Company were still touring the UNWRA schools with theatre shows.  Also, the actors from their group recently came together to celebrate the work of Philippe Dumoulin.  This man was Director of the Theatre du Public in Belgium. He first worked with Theatre for Everybody in Gaza in 1996.  This was during a period, just after the Oslo Accords, when Gaza was relatively open and accessible.  Theatre for Everybody collaborated on many productions with Philippe and his theatre and now Doudou, as they affectionately call him, was retiring the company made a video tribute.  This get-together acted as a catalyst and made the company much more confident that they could start the work on the War and Peace project.  They told me that by mid-January they would have accomplished the initial workshops.  They may even be able to send some video recordings of the work for our event at Rich Mix on Sunday 18th January.

We also talked about the trip I would be taking in February to Gaza and I told them that I would be doing some work with Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah before trying to get into Gaza.  I have been told that it will increase the likelihood of being granted entry if I confirm my desire to go there in person to the Palestinian Authorities on the West Bank.  The plan is for Caryl Churchill and I to run an initial workshop on her play Love and Information. This extraordinary play which consists of 49 dialogues with no indication of location or character creates a dynamic network of human interactions in which the poles of communication oscillate around love and information, variations which pull together and push apart qualitative and quantitative relationships at the centre of which there is always a secret, a mystery or a kind of ignorance.  It will be wonderful to explore how this work lights up references and instances of Palestinian experience and culture.

Hossam and Jamal know Iman Aoun, the current Director of Ashtar, from the days when the cultural scenes of Gaza and the West Bank were more fluently connected.

We also talked about how the event in January at Rich Mix would be another extraordinary exploration and I told them the story of Resurrection after which we wondered how this word would be translated into Arabic. It refers to both Christ’s coming back to life after the crucifixion and to the personal transformative renewals that people undergo in their lives.  Immediately they recognised that there was a double resurrection in the story, both that undergone by Nekhlyudov, who gives up all his wealth and dedicates himself to the well-being of Maslova, the woman he fell in love with as teenager and whom he seduced, and of Maslova herself, who, through her experience of getting to know social revolutionaries in prison, transforms her world-outlook.  I explained that it was precisely this concatenation (or chain reaction) of change in people as they interacted on each other that was the main aim of my work on Resurrection.

 

 

 

Getting into Gaza 24/11/2014

For messages from Gaza on this blog: Start from the beginning.

The social and economic (that is, human) circumstances in Gaza are critical and our partners in Theatre for Everybody are working flat out in the recovery effort.  Much of their and their colleagues’ work is concerned with psycho-social support.

This is the latest United Nations report on the situation in Gaza:  Click here.

Our friends in Theatre for Everybody are working with Ma’an Development Centre and War Child Holland

We have decided that in order to pursue our project Jonathan Chadwick needs to visit Gaza.  This trip is planned for February 2015.

It is not going to be easy to get in.  Entry is through Israel. The Egyptian border at Rafah is uncertain and the Sinai region through which the traveler must pass is too dangerous.  So we are organising invitations and making contact with all the people who may be able to help with this visit.  There is a possibility that Jonathan will spend a week in the West Bank before the Gaza visit.  This will help confirm the permissions and co-ordination necessary for entry to Gaza.

This blog will keep you updated about progress.

Also we are running an event at Rich Mix on Sunday 18th January 2015 at 3pm.  This will be a benefit to raise money for this trip.

This will be a public reading of Jonathan Chadwick’s stage adaptation of RESURRECTION, Tolstoy’s last novel.  Find out more.

Az Theatre and Theatre for Everybody in Gaza have worked together since 2002. Since 2009 we have initiated a ten-year project, Gaza Drama Long Term.  The latest phase is aimed at the production of an original Arabic stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  Hossam Madhoun has created an Arabic translation of a stage adaptation by pioneer theatre-maker, Erwin Piscator.  This work is the basis for the initial workshops with a company of actors in Gaza.  Az has raised money for this work through individual donations, contributions from Street Theatre Workshop Trust and the British Shalom Salaam Trust.  We also held a fundraising event at Rich Mix on Sunday 14th September which included readings of the PIscator version of War and Peace alongside plays by Caryl Churchill, Hassan Abdulrazzak and Haifa Zangana with messages from our partners in Gaza and a public skype conversation with them. However because of the attack on Gaza from July through to September the initial workshops have been held up.  This blog will keep you updated about progress.

 

No blood or bullets just pain 05/11/2014

For Messages from Gaza during the recent war, from the beginning.

The most recent message? Click here

I’ve just spoken via skype to Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al Rozzi, Directors of Theatre for Everybody in Gaza with whom we at Az Theatre are developing a project called War and Peace: Gaza (Palestine)/London (UK) or click here

They told me there was no blood being shed and no bullets flying around (for the time being) compared to the time of the recent war (the bombardment started in June and a ‘peace’ was concluded on 26 August 2014) but the pain of Gaza continues.

During the war there was a level of hope that things could not return to the way things were before, that all the suffering, damage and sacrifice would lead to a lifting of the blockade and some amelioration of life for the inhabitants of Gaza.  Unfortunately things in all respects are worse than they were before.  The people of Gaza have gained absolutely nothing through all their suffering. But the world’s attention has turned away from Gaza and now the dreadful consequences of the war are still being suffered by the people there. Moreover, the blockade that was condemned by the majority of the international community and by the United Nation today is legitimatized by the UN through the so-called Robert Serry plan for goods to enter Gaza. It is scheme similar to “oil for food” which was imposed on Iraq and there it made people hungrier and more vulnerable.   And what makes matters even worse is that nobody is listening anymore, there are no protests.

Hossam and Jamal told me that people are turning in on themselves and that the feeling on the streets is one of distance and sourness. They also said people were aggressive to each other.  Stories are rife of people trying to leave, some through the remaining tunnels, some by boat.  Many have died in the attempt – many have drowned.  None of this has been reported. We talked about how the world wanted to believe that the resilience of the Palestinian people would go on forever, indomitable.  But we had to admit that Palestinians are not heroes, they are human beings and anyway, as Brecht said, ‘Unhappy is the land that needs heroes’.

Many people are internally shattered and exhausted and this means that relationships between people have deteriorated.  Of course at times of intense danger and stress, people will tend to stick closer together but then, at certain points, they will disintegrate.  There is a kind of centrifugal force that makes people want to flee and this force can become current in a whole population.  To some extent the successive wars suffered by the people of Gaza will have exercised and attenuated this ‘coming together’ during violence and this ‘coming apart’ during the so-called peace that follows.  I remember Hossam saying that maybe people could bear a war every ten years but 2008, 2012 and now 2014 have left people punch-drunk.

At one point there was a dreadful silence as we reflected on the fact that it was this existential destruction of people that the Israelis were aiming at.  Is it possible that they were succeeding?  Of course, being realistic, it was possible to admit that they could.  I recognised this balance moment in the life of a people as being intrinsic to a genocidal process.

Yes, we had to admit that the intention of the Israelis was genocide.  They wanted to ‘disappear’ the Palestinian people. And they might be successful.

The silence continued. We stared into a kind of abyss.

Of course historically each genocidal process was different.

I have been led to reflect on this process because of my involvement in a partnership between theatre-makers in Armenia and Turkey.  I have recently returned from Yerevan where we accomplished the initial stages of this partnership project. Genocide is a process in which the different functions have to be broken down, they have to be compartmentalised.  The Armenian population of Anatolia was subjected, first of all, to deportation from their homes. This was carried out by the gendarmerie in the different local districts.  These local forces typically accompanied the Armenians to the borders of the local authority region. The deported were then handed over to other forces, armed gangs organised by the Committee for Union and Progress, sometimes these people were criminals specially released from prison.  This is how the slaughter and further displacement was carried out.  Now the Turkish state is ready to admit that there were deportations but will not admit to the full charge of genocide.  They are enabled to do so by this compartmentalisation. Different functions carried out by different people. Nobody appears overall responsible. This also has to do with the robbery and theft of wealth, land and property that accompanies all genocides, including the Israeli one.  Of course there is also enslavement, rape and other forms of subjection.  But how the genocidal project is unfolded is different in all instances.  The Israelis’ genocide is slow, attritional.

Why is it that the nation-formation process seems to feature this extreme exclusion process? How is the force and thoroughness of the genocidal expulsion linked to the gaining of an internal coherence for the developing nation state?  Maybe there is in me a refusal to understand, a resistance to the implications of accepting the attendant truths about human capability. Just as in the birth of the modern Turkish state, thus in the reinvention, through National Socialism, of the German state, thus in the carving out of the Israeli state and so also in the state-building project of the Islamic State of Iraq, Syria and the Levant.

These are complex processes.  There is no unitary cause.  The movement of genocide is conjunctural.  There are economic causes ie theft and enslavement; there are psychosocial causes ie national cohesion.  It is as if nobody is singularly responsible.  Everybody in the perpetrator society plays a part although sometimes passive.  Often the killing is constructed as work.  This was true in Rwanda where the morning radio exhorted the population during the genocide to go to work, killing. Always there is the characterisation of the victim population as being sub-human, like animals and thus the genocidal project is projected as a ‘humanisation’ process.  Sometimes there is direct automated killing, sometimes death is left to do its work ‘naturally’.

All of these thoughts flooded into my mind in the silence that happened between Jamal, Hossam and I during our conversation.  The silence was like a dread.

We had to make affirmations that our work together, the latest phase of which is a production of a stage version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, was to do with resistance.  Jamal told us about a thinker who asserted that resistance very often had to be played out through a smile or an act of kindness.  We decided that we must work together face to face.  I promised that I would visit Gaza soon.  We started planning this for the end of January.  They said that by that time they would have held the initial workshops on War and Peace.  All the actors which might take part were still working flat out in the social regeneration programmes so urgently needed after the war. Suddenly we were talking about how we might find a summer course in the UK for their daughters who are both 13 years old. (Does anyone have suggestions?)   We arranged a guitar exchange between Yara, Jamal’s daughter, and I.

It was as if together we had faced death and then come alive again.

For the latest United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs Humanitarian Report for the Occupied Palestinian Territories Click here

 

I dream that Gaza one day will not be in the news anymore 22/09/2014

22 September 2014

Read messages from Gaza. Previous.

Az Theatre’s launch event for the War and Peace: Gaza (Palestine) – London (UK) project was successful.  We have now raised over £8000.

Here are some of the audience’s reactions:

“I wanted to thank you again for yesterday’s collection of work at the rich mix and the truly heart warming Skype link up to Jamal and Hossam in Gaza…..I think the energy that is going into your project also shows the power of theatre to give hope through the horror, to those who believe in it.” PH

 “The performance was great! Thank you very much for putting together such amazing pieces of work!” C L-R

 “I thought what I saw was very powerful and staged effectively. All the actors really gave their all. I thought the variety of voices really enhanced the material and I thought the order worked so well – especially hearing those war and peace scenes first and then the Caryl Churchill at the end. I thought the Caryl Churchill scene was beautifully written and provided such a refreshing other point of view of the main war and peace characters.And beautiful music at the end! All in all everything contributed to a very strong presentation. Congratulations”. CC

The public skype conversation with Hossam and Jamal was moving and enlightening.  It looks like they will not be able to do their initial workshop on the stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, that Hossam Madhoun has made a translation of, for at least another month.  Many of the actors they would use will be involved in the psycho-social support work for children that is so necessary in Gaza as people try to put their lives back together after the war.  I wrote and asked them if they would continue to write to us here about how life was there in Gaza as the painful process of recovery took place.  I sent a message asking many questions, this was Hossam’s response:

In fact we are really concerned to answer your questions and continue to highlight the situation in Gaza. Our delay is not due to laziness but being very much occupied with work. Jamal and I are running emergency psycho-social support projects and it really eats all of our time and this might continue for some time.
What I can tell you now about Gaza, is that every one here feels estrangement. No-one is able to go back to normal,
Yesterday for example, talking to one friend from Khozaa village, he  told me that as a villager he used to raise some chicken, and collect eggs every other day. The chicken survived the massacre in Khozza. When he went back to his partially destroyed home, he found all of his chicken which he use to feed every morning. It is now almost 3 weeks since the war stopped, but he is unable to think about his chicken. He is not feeding them; he is not looking for the eggs and the chicken are finding their own way to live. Is this a naive story? For a villager it is not. (I am sure you understand and you know what I mean) Many people are thinking about leaving or trying to leave. Many already died in the Mediterranean. You heard that in the news? The rest are suffering quietly in silence, as they can not even complain or shout or scream out of pain.
Hamas and Fatah are in disagreement again. The money to rebuild Gaza will come only through Fatah, so they make getting back control of Gaza a precondition for spending any money, while Hamas who believe that their popularity is now high, won’t accept this, so people just suffer. 75000 people are in shelters (schools), 2500 people in each school, thousands of homes are destroyed, 450 local factories are destroyed, more than 400 million ton of rubble to be removed from streets, unemployment above 50%, poverty above 90%, and people wait unable even to complain.
Hamas is still celebrating victory and Fatah want Gaza back and the world does not care.
By the way, in the project I manage for Ma’an Development Center, I have to manage 13 life skills activators, 13 psychological counsellors, 13 social counsellors, 5 field supervisors, 5 activators in a mobile fun unit, 5 psychodrama specialists, one psychologist supervisor working in 13 centers all over Gaza Strip running multiple tasks and activities including work with children, community mobilization, awareness campaigns, community initiatives, days out for children and, and, and…
I had to recruit 55 professionals in 2 weeks with millions of details to prepare and follow up and all of this as well as communications with donors to generate funding for other interventions in water and sanitation, also, representing Ma’an at international coordination forums, leading needs assessments in several fields. It is an emergency, damn it!!!
I am looking forward to the day that there will be no need for emergency in Gaza, no need for humanitarian intervention in Gaza, no need for mass psycho-social support for the children of Gaza.
You know what? I dream that Gaza one day will not be in the news anymore, like any small town or village in the South of Belgium or East of England, just a small quiet city living in peace and attracting no-one for any special thing.
Love from the bleeding Gaza.

Read messages from Gaza. Next.

Art at War and Peace launch event 10/09/2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 15.27.17

10 September 2014

Read messages from Gaza. Previous.

This is a painting called Water Tanks.  It’s by Raed Issa, an artist living and working in Gaza. You can read about how Raed’s house was blown up in the recent attack on Gaza here.

At our War and Peace: Gaza (Palestine) – London (UK) launch event on Sunday 14 September (Book tickets) at Rich Mix in London we exhibiting and selling paintings by artists including Raed.

Az Theatre are collaborating with Arts Canteen in making this presentation of art work from Gaza, 25% of proceeds will go to our War and Peace project.  Arts Canteen director, Aser Saqqa said:

This collection features the work of artists, all of whom are from Gaza, of different generations and experiences. The artistic work emerging from Gaza, particularly since the war of 2011&2014, is increasingly attracting notice from the wider world and taking its place in major collections and exhibitions. The work illustrates varying energies and concerns, as well as techniques, influences, interests and themes. Showing these paintings together illustrates the diversity, the alive-ness, and the potential of art to be a creative force. They challenge preconceptions and inspire curiosity and further explorations.

Alongside brand new writing by Caryl Churchill, Hassan Abdulrazzak and Haifa Zangana, the programme includes readings by an all star cast of scenes from a stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and a live link-up conversation via skype with Gaza! Music from Soufian Saihi and Alex Munk.

Read messages from Gaza. Next.

 

Gaza, peace and the price of fish 03/09/2014

3 September 2014

Read messages from Gaza. Previous.

Regarding Gaza? It is:
as if nothing happened,
as if 2200 lives weren’t lost
as if 40,000 houses weren’t destroyed
as if more than 50 local factories weren’t damaged
as if 100,000 people aren’t without shelter
as if hundreds of kids haven’t lost their parents
as if hundreds of parents haven’t lost their kids
as if all of Gaza wasn’t suffering shortages in food, in water, in electricity, in money,
Fatah and Hamas are back to square one
Arguments and fighting in the media
Fatah blaming Hamas for having a shadow government in Gaza
Hamas asking for the salaries of their employees
Accusation from both sides that none of them want unity, that none of them are committed to the obligations they agreed upon
And Gaza keeps bleeding this time in silence.
The irony is that all the media celebrates the extra quantities of fish because fishermen are allowed to fish within the 6 mile limit whereas this was allowed 55 days ago.
By the way, the price of fish is still affordable only by the same people as 55 days ago, those who were not able to afford the price of fish before the war are still unable to afford it after the war!
Victory is ours !!!!!!!???????

Read messages from Gaza. Next.

We (personally) do feel some relief 27/08/2014

27 August 2014

Read messages from Gaza.  Start at the beginning with the first message we received from Hossam on 18/06/2014 and follow the story of the whole ‘war’ up to this point through these messages from Gaza.

This below is Hossam response to my asking about reactions to the indefinite ceasefire declared yesterday.  First have a look at the previous message.  This will give you a sense of the significance of the ceasefire. We still don’t know what our partners, Theatre for Everybody, of which Jamal and Hossam are directors, are going to be able to achieve for our planned live exchange on Sunday 14th September at Rich Mix in London.  They were to have had a two-week workshop with their actors leading up to this event and this was a part of our partnership development of a production of an original Arabic stage version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace produced in Gaza. Read about our project. Anyway the event will happen.  There will be a live exchange with Hossam and Jamal.  And our project will continue.  This is just the beginning.

 

Dear Jonathan
We are fine my friend, we are safe (personally)
We (personally) survived this savage brutal attack
We (personally) do feel some relief
But, a big but, a very big but
I am not sure Gaza is fine
I am sure Gaza is not fine
Gaza is not fine at all
Yesterday evening Hamas celebrated victory
But Gaza is still bleeding
The end of the fight is not the end of Gaza’s agony
Many people who took refuge in schools will go back home
But at least 100.000 people have no home anymore to go back to
18000 housing units destroyed completely
In Gaza before the war there was a deficit of 4500 housing units
This is only one catastrophe
The 2200 killed, are dead, they have no pain any more
The pain is for those who are still alive, their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends ….
Among the 3000 children who were injured, according to WHO and OCHA, 1000 of them will live with lifelong disability
Among the other 8000 adults injured,  according to the WHO and OCHA, 3000 of them will live with lifelong disability
50 days ago the unemployment rate was 43% in Gaza
Food insecure affected around 67% of the population
Today with the destruction of 15 local factories employing thousands of people with low salaries, poverty increases, daily suffering increases, food insecurity increases.

Yes I am fine, my dear
But Gaza is not fine
Hamas celebrated a triumph yesterday
But Gaza in still in huge pain
The deal is to open the crossings for humanitarian aid, (it was not closed for humanitarian aid, even during the last 50 days!!)
The deal is to allow fishing up to 6 miles, (this is no more effectively sufficient for fishing than the previous limit of 3 miles); moreover this is to start at the end of the year (and this is if Israel to be trusted)
I survived this war my dear, but Gaza did not
We are still in blockade, the agreement says nothing about freedom at all
Maybe one positive thing could be mentioned, that the Palestinian negotiation team was representing all the Palestinians; maybe this will start to end division between Palestinians, Maybe this might unite us (I pray)
Gaza is not fine, my friend                                                                                                    More than 2.5 million tons of rubble spread all over Gaza needs to be removed
The huge destruction of the water system, of the sewage system, of the solid waste system, of the power system, needs hundreds of millions to repair
I really do not know what all this infrastructure has to do with this war, and why the Israelis had to bomb a water well, or the power plant or a water reservoir or a solid waste station or a sewage treatment plant (what do all these have to do with Hamas or rockets or resistance????????)
Or why a child of 4 years old should ask his pregnant mother to hide him in her belly with his brother inside her
What harm could such a child cause to the Israelis? (a potential terrorist???!!!!! )
According to Golda Meir (the former Israeli Prime-Minister in the 1970s): There is no such thing as Palestinians
They proved today that this is what every single Israeli government believed in
I am fine my friend, I survived this war, but Gaza is not fine, not fine at all, and will never be fine without freedom, freedom to Palestine, to Palestinians, to humanity
freedom my friend, this is what we need, this is what we want, this is what we cannot live without, this is what no man can live without
freedom.

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How you get ready for death 26/08/2014

26 August 2014

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I had an email exchange with Hossam yesterday and I didn’t have enough time to post his reply. Take a look at what he had to say about the bombing of the tower block in downtown Gaza. Click ‘Previous’ above. Anyway, this is what Hossam sent today!

 

Another night when death was knocking on doors! With every bombing you believe it is your door. It is your turn. Are you ready?
How? How do you get ready for death?
What you should do?
OK, this is what I do. I make sure that I dress well because I don’t want those who will move my body to see me naked; I also want to appear nice when my relatives and friends take their last look at me.
But you know, this is not guaranteed. Maybe I will die in pieces and my clothes will be also in pieces; maybe my body will be burnt, and then my clothes will be burnt too.
But I do dress well.
I will meet death with a smile? That’s a lie told only in Hollywood movies! My face will be shaped according to the level of fear I will be at the moment death comes.
But maybe I will be smiling, as death might come suddenly. This has already happened to more than 1500 people in Gaza. They did not expect death, but it came through an artillery shell, or a tank bomb or an air strike or an F16 missile, or naval bombing or some bullets in the back while they were trying to run for their lives.
So it is possible to meet death with a smile, but nothing is guaranteed.
While waiting for death, I try not to sleep so I can spend the last moments, minutes, hours looking at the angel face of my wife, visiting my daughter’s room to put what I expect to be the last father’s kiss on her cheek.
And it is not so difficult to stay awake, the sound of bombing and shelling and air strikes and bombardments keeps me awake as much as I want.
Other preparations for death knocking on the door?
During the day, you make sure that no one is angry with you, because you want people to say good things about you when you’re gone.
You make sure that you left no debts, because you don’t want people asking your wife and child for money that they may not have after you’re gone.
You make sure that home is a safe place (or at any rate make it a safer place than any other place is) for your wife and daughter. You want them to live. Of course you want to live too, but they are the priority.
Another two huge tower blocks in Gaza were bombed last night; another 100 families in the street with no shelter.
Another five tower blocks were warned to evacuate in order to be bombed; hundreds more families are in the street without shelter; thousands more people lose their dreams; hundreds more children wonder why their parents had to wake them up in the middle of the night to get them to run away from home, refusing to let them take their favorite toy;
hundreds more fathers can give ….. can give nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing to their children, to their wives, to their old parents, to themselves.

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