At The Freedom Theatre we are outraged and despaired at the relentless Israeli attack on Gaza. The rising death toll, the increasing number of wounded and the destroyed homes, buildings and infrastructure, the emotional wounds that will affect generations to come.
Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre, recently sent a letter to the employees and friends of the theatre, where he emphasized that one of the aims of the Israeli attacks, whether in Gaza or in the West Bank, is to smash Palestinian civil society and render it powerless. At this critical time, we would like to share Jonatan’s letter in order to highlight the role of cultural institutions such as The Freedom Theatre.
July 15, 2014
I feel that I need to write to you a few words. I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking of everything that is happening and everything that has happened. I hope that Rewa is able to translate them so that I may share them with you also in Arabic. I know that some of us, including myself, have greater freedoms than others, I may move as I wish and I don’t need to endure Israeli aggressions the same way as others. Nevertheless I want to make it clear that we are all in the same boat, what happens onto one of us, happens onto all of us. Therefore I feel confident sharing these words with you.
The occupation takes many forms. It breaks into our houses, it prevents our freedom of movement, it kills, kidnaps, tortures and maims, it seeds suspicion and fear, it confuses and manipulates us. In the last weeks it has taken on some of its most monstrous forms; a monster that eats children and pulls the ground on which we are standing. It shocks us and might make us loose our direction. It is beyond painful to watch and it’s difficult to know what to do, what is our role when brothers and sisters are dying? Post on facebook, sign petitions, demonstrate and protest, write a poem or a play, comfort our nearest, bring out a gun from the closet?
We, the fighters of cultural resistance, must stand in the frontline of the Palestinian resistance. I believe that it is our role and our duty. It is we who have the ability to see through and expose the Israeli manipulations, to mend the ruptures in the web of Palestinian society and bring direction and hope to the struggle. We have within our capacity to transform apathy into intentional actions and collective efforts. We can make the unimaginable possible, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of separation into unity. It is within our power.
This fight will never be an easy one. The traps are all around us, we are gradually becoming more aware of them, but there are many left that we have not yet discovered. We have fallen into many traps in the past and we have hurt ourselves and others in the fall. But we can learn from our past mistakes. We must be humble and forgive ourselves and our comrades because if we are not willing to go that far then we will have nowhere to go. We must work with ourselves constantly – the most challenging struggle – and identify the oppression inside us; we all have it within our bodies. The oppression is there like a virus, waiting for the right time and conditions to emerge. Beware of it, become aware of it, deal with it and get rid of it.
How can we protect ourselves from the destructive powers around us? How do we prevent ourselves from being sucked into the maelstrom of fear, hate, suspicion and hopelessness and ultimately desperation, depression and apathy? It is up to us. If we support each other enough we can prevent evil in all its shapes from entering. We can all bring that energy of change and determination from within us and share it with others until we become the stronger part. We can continue nurturing a positive and intentional mind-set that transforms oppression into even more determined resistance. We can become the mixture that turns the venom of oppression into potions of subversive revolution.
The most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play and dream, to be able to discover alternatives and pursue them. The oppressive forces fear this weapon the most because as long as we are able to imagine another kind of world, we have the power to fight for our dreams. If you can find within yourself the slightest playfulness and the dream of a better life, a better society, then you have not been defeated and you are resisting. If we nurture that positive spirit we will one day discover that we are together a well-equipped army, willing and able to fight the Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism as well as the occupation from within. I strongly feel that we are not far from being able to do exactly this.