Thursday, July 14, 2005

Arab-Israeli Cookbook

We went to see the Arab-Israeli Cookbook in the Tricylce Theatre in Kilburn yesterday. I tried to get tickets for it during its first run at The Gate last year but it was sold out.

It is a piece of verbatim theatre assembled from interviews with Jews and Arabs in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in September 2003. When I head of the play, I was hoping that the theme of food and cooking might produce something positive about the cultural connections between the communities, but it wasn't to be. There is little, if any, testimony of people who have made friends across the divide.

I am also sure that in a theatre in London the stories have a relevance and emotional impact after 7/7 that they wouldn't have had in 2004.

We hear a falafel shop keeper called Mordechai saying that he considers hinself one year and one month old because just over a year ago an Arab teenager ran into his shop, hid under a table and detonated a bomb killing only himself even though Mordechai and his son were less than a metre a way. A driver called Yaacov tells of his guilt and anguish after driving his No 25 through the wreckage of another bus blown up by a suicide bomber (whose headless, legless corpse he sees) because it was drummed into him that he must not stop in case another terrorist was waiting.

The only hope lies in the character of Fadi - an intellectually brilliant young Arab - who is studying for law and medicine degrees simultaneously. His insight and simple vow is not to give in to resentment. Maybe, as a post yesterday suggested, that is the last best hope for all of us.

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