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For 2024. Liberation.

Brave Girl – Lunchbox Theatre
Photo Credits

As we wrap up 2023, we acknowledge the distress of anti-Arabism and anti-Semitism in various communities around the world. The horrific attack at the Supernova music festival on October 7 in the Negev Desert in Israel and the more recent destruction of the Rashad al-Shawwa Theater in Rimal, Gaza, represent for us the destruction of the vibrancy of life as well as the bare life left behind without the cultural nurturing that binds people into a society with a memory and heritage to share.

Last week in Calgary, on the day before the observation of Hanukkah, Mayor Jyoti Gondek was forced to cancel her attendance at the annual community menorah lighting at City Hall. Also last week, the Government of Alberta announced it is expanding the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program grant to include Jewish and Islamic faith-based schools should they identify a need for short-term physical security on campus. On December 12 the Canadian Government voted in favour of a resolution at the UN for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

According to Jewish philosophers Bracha L. Ettinger and Judith Butler, the Shoah of the 20th century is a place to garner solidarity when it comes to witnessing similar material and cultural genocides. As artists, we keenly understand the power of witnessing as an act that helps us situate ourselves in the ethical and political quandaries of our time. What we are witnessing right now is surely uncomfortable because it makes explicit an irreconcilable tension between ethics and politics. It is a historical circumstance that we live in societies that have reduced political tensions into ethical quandaries to be reconciled, and this only makes the difficult crossroads and parting ways between ethics and politics all the more pronounced in light of an event. It is with caution that we can judge matters of genuine ethical problems using the lens of politics, just as we can judge the genuine problems of politics through ethics.

Jewish philosopher Jacques Derrida believes the present is haunted by the past, and that it is crucial to learn to mourn together in our differences. When it comes to the question of grief and mourning, we continue to witness struggles over the legitimization of grief and what counts as a grievable life. It is easy to obscure just how precarious life is and to bypass just how fundamentally dependent on each other we are. The words of Palestinian filmmaker Larissa Sansour are evocative: “It’s about people who carry their ancestors’ wishes and memories without having lived them… It’s about holding on to trauma from the past and constantly projecting towards the future, thereby living in a limbo where the present is not really there.” In the words of Palestinian-American thinker Edward Said, “For Palestinians, there is now a major threat to their culture and national existence, a threat which is neither theoretical nor just a vague possibility.”

Dispossession from land and the extraction of resources are the fundamental operations in a colonial occupation. The fragmentation of the colonized society and the eradication of its culture seek to break the social cohesion and bonds between the dispossessed. In this general sense, this devastating violence acts as a reflection of our society which is based on dispossession, extractivism, and cultural eradication of Indigenous peoples. Zahi Zalloua highlights the transnational solidarity between decolonial movements and their shared fate: “Decolonization is never an isolated endeavor nor a local matter; it is global or it is not. Indigenous peoples of the world learn from one another and unite.”

We stand in support for the permanent ceasefire — but this alone only amounts to what Martin Luther King Jr. has referred to as “negative peace” which only prefers “the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” Universal emancipation is crucial for the demands of justice. The delay of justice is tantamount to its denial. Peace cannot be a tacit agreement to material subjection and cultural destruction.

We have compiled a list of resources from various Palestinian, Arab, Jewish, Israeli, and racialized authors. In addition, as we see the impacts of the on-going occupation and violence in various artistic disputes, we want to uplift the work and advocacy by theatre artists in our community including Theatre Artists for Palestinian Voices.

Resources

Documentaries

    • The Gatekeepers (2012) by Dror Moreh
    • Close, Closed, Closure (2002) by Ram Loevy
    • 5 Broken Cameras (2012) by Emad Burnat
    • The Settlers (2016) by Shimon Dotan
    • Tantura (2022) by Alon Schwarz
    • Gaza Fights for Freedom (2019) by Abby Martin
    • Little Palestine: Diary of a Siege (2021) By Abdallah Al-Khatib
    • Occupation 101 (2001) Abdallah Omeish & Sufyan Omeish
    • ISRAELISM (2023) by Erin Axelman & Sam Eilertsen
    • Farha (Film 2021) by Darin J. Sallam
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