School play delves into disputed territory

When it comes to teaching students about controversial foreign political disputes with complex historical roots, one group has found a simple yet powerful way to help schools go about it – by teaching it through the context of love.

The play centred on two people who meet and fall in love in the besieged Gaza strip – called Tales of a City by the Sea – will be studied as part of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

Palestinian playwright, Samah Sabawi, told The Educator that people rarely stop to think how these people in those troubled and war-torn parts of the world live their daily lives under such extreme conditions.

“We live in a beautiful peaceful country, and we only get bits and pieces on the news about people affected by war in war torn areas be it Syria, Yemen, Gaza or elsewhere,” she said.

“The play opens a window into the world of young people in war torn Gaza and the difficult choices they have to make.”

Sabawi said the play – woven together from the actual experiences of people living under Israeli occupation in Gaza – forces its audience “to think of the impact of war and violence on ordinary human lives”.

However, the play has been slammed by lobby group B’nai B’rith as “anti-Israeli propaganda”, with the group having reportedly approached Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, with the demand to have it removed.

B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chairman, Dvir Abramovich, said the play depicted Israel as a “bloodthirsty, evil war machine”.

“Nowhere to be found is the Israeli perspective, the suicide bombings inside Israel,” he told The Age.

Read the full article by Brett Henebery in The Educator