Arab peace activist’s play gets UK reading

By Keren David, July 9, 2009
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A play about a Palestinian peace campaigner whose daughter was allegedly shot by Israeli soldiers will be performed in London this weekend.

The play reading is being held at the Theatro Technis in Camden, north London, on Sunday, to raise money to bring activist Bassam Aramin and his family to Bradford for a year so that he can study for an MA in Peace Studies.

The Israeli playwright Idan Meir was inspired to write about Mr Aramin when his tutor at university told his class to “search for the voices we don’t want to hear”.

He was introduced to a group called Combatants for Peace, made up of former Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers who now refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

It was there that he met Mr Aramin, a former prisoner in an Israeli jail who was serving time for an attack on an army jeep.
Mr Aramin started a dialogue with a guard while he was in prison, and when freed set up Combatants for Peace.

But in 2007, his ten-year-old daughter, Abir, was caught up in a clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths and died later in hospital. Her family say she was hit by a rubber bullet. A garden in her memory has been created by Combatants for Peace.

Despite his immense grief and anger, Mr Aramin redoubled his efforts for peace, writing: “I’m not going to exploit the blood of my child for political purposes…”

He pledged: “I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will continue to fight in order to protect her siblings and her classmates, her girlfriends, both Palestinians and Israelis. They are all our children.”

Mr Meir’s dramatised reading was first staged at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theatre as part of a prestigious festival for dramatic monologues, with Israeli actor Shlomo Vishinsky, whose son Lior was killed in Gaza in 2004, playing Mr Aramin.

Mr Meir believes that his performance helped Israelis understand the Palestinian perspective.

He said: “For Israelis it is not easy to hear the story of the enemy. Everybody here has their own story, everybody knows someone who has died. But when you hear someone’s personal story you realise there are universal feelings that everyone can connect to.”

Mr Aramin hopes to come to Bradford this year with his wife and five children. Only £10,000 remains to be found to cover the family’s living expenses for a year. The reading on Sunday will be followed by a discussion with the playwright.

    Last updated: 11:51am, July 9 2009