Collaboration under Fire – TImes of Israel

by YTheater co-directors Bonna Devora Haberman and Kadar Herini, published in The Times of Israel on Nov. 16, 2012 during operation Pillar of Fire.

War is raging. Missiles are exploding closer and closer to our center core. We contract into fear, mourn the loss of life and devastation, and worry for the safety of our loved ones. We also affirm our commitment and work tirelessly to build our capacity for peace. Though art is far from the headlines and policy agendas, precisely now, we share about our unfolding collaboration – a speck of light in terrifying darkness.

We, Kadar and Bonna, met nearly five years ago at the annual “Speaking Arts Conference” in Jerusalem. From near and far, people gather to share passions for theater, music, and dance.

Kadar Bonna
It was my first foray into a Jewish-Israeli zone. I never before had a chance to listen and learn about the Israeli side. I also found the possibility to share, to express my truth openly for the first time with people who cared to hear – that I am here, a Palestinian, and this is my pain. Though I had participated in “dialogue groups” and reconciliation gatherings, I had never worked or played with Palestinians before. Usually everyone wants most of all to talk, to say their piece. Here, we share actively with each other – with our minds, hearts, and bodies.

We returned each year for a few days of unfettered interaction across enemy lines.

From our first meeting, I was moved by the example of Bonna’s behavior and her patience to teach people how to act – on stage and in life. Bonna is a both a teacher and learner at the same time. Kadar is a fine actor/director. He puts his all into the moment; he doesn’t hold back. Kadar is genuinely intrigued by people – of every origin and belief. He is open and keen.

After our third conference, some of the theater participants decided to build a new project. Quickly, we discovered that we agree about almost nothing.

I see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the world through Arab culture, language, and media. I grew and was nurtured on Islam as the most advanced religion, encompassing the gifts of its predecessors, Judaism and Christianity. I was taught Palestinian narratives of displacement and entitlement and how Jewish history, ancient and modern, are manipulated to justify Zionist claims to sovereignty over my people’s land. I seek freedom from the impingements of Israel, and expression of Palestinian culture. We need to re-visit the distribution of resources and land here – in peace and through democracy. I see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the world through Western culture, Judaism, and Zionism. I grew and was nurtured on the Jewish people’s ancient, medieval, and modern texts and history. I hold the State of Israel to be one of the tremendous innovations in the last two millennia of Jewish life. Israel is one precious place on earth where Jewish civilization can inform an open, democratic civil society. I aim to contribute toward refining Zionism as an ongoing fulfillment of Jewish destiny. Living in dignity and fruitful peace with our minorities and with our neighbors are among my priorities.

Meeting weekly for four or five hours, we found that we do agree about the stage and community theater; we share an artistic language. . . . [more]

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