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40 Miles From Tel Aviv is 4,000 Miles From The Truth

40 Miles From Tel Aviv could be a beautiful piece.  To the playwright’s credit, he used his imagination in a unique way.  Moreover, we have complete confidence in the capability of the actors and the resourcefulness of such a qualified director to make an effort at bridging most of the obvious gaps.  And while we thank Stages Reparatory Theater for selecting this multilateral and complex issue, we hope that at some future date there will be a more unbiased story told.

With respect to the artistic license of the playwright, we believe 40 Miles From Tel Aviv is based on fiction and stereotypes. Whether or not the playwright consciously intended this is of a lesser consequence than the story itself, replete with inaccuracies, misinformation, and subliminal messages that antagonize the plight of the Palestinian people.  Because we do not want to participate in the perpetration of teaching hate, we feel it is only fair then for our students, the future leaders of this country, to be aware of the missing part of the story.

The people of the United States represent divergent ideologies and multiple religions.  It is a people that fiercely protect the freedom of individual rights through the means of a democratic process.  For the sake of humanity at large, it is the people that must procure a more creative look at problem solving in the Middle East in order to bring justice and peace to the Israeli and the Palestinian people alike. The Middle East does not exist in a vacuum.  Stability and peace is in the best interest of all, but that will never be achieved without a just solution to the Palestinian cause. The United States government, Marshal Island, and Micronesia are the only countries in the world that provide unconditional support to Israel, while all else believe that the Palestinians should live free.

At its core, the Israeli/Arab - Israeli/Palestinian conflict stems from the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the land of other Arab neighboring countries it has taken by force.

The conflict in the Middle East can be looked at through many different lenses, but it adds up or boils down to one issue, and that is the Military Occupation of the Palestinian people. There is no polite way to talk about a military occupation. It is not limited to racism or slavery, nor is it restricted to crimes against humanity that oppress the individual right to freedom of speech and religion, it shows no favoritism between all that is unreasonable and unjust; a military occupation enforces all of these.  It violates human decency at its root.  The Palestinians live and die everyday with the ugly truth of a thriving military occupation and the reality that there is a greater power who wishes to ethnically cleanse them.  This is modern day genocide.  It is a holocaust.

Palestinians have made major concessions when recognizing Israel, and have accepted the terms of a Palestinian state even though it is on only 22 % of the historic Palestine.  The Arab Summit in Beirut in March of 2001 had accepted to normalize all relationship with Israel provided that Israel withdrew from the land it occupied by force in June 1967. Israel answered with military attacks against civilians and the house arrest of the democratically elected Palestinian president, Yassar Arafat. The Palestinians and the Israelis had signed a peace treaty called “Oslo accord”. Things were moving in the right direction until an Israeli terrorist, Baruch Goldstein, a physician in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, on February 25, 1994 massacred 29 Palestinians who were peacefully praying in a Mosque.

The Israeli right wing escalated the problem when one of its own “Ameer” shot dead Israeli Prime Minister Yitztak Rabin. Consecutive Israeli Prime Ministers have been since doing all that they can to nullify the treaty and carry out provocative acts of violence against innocent Palestinian civilians such as the construction of a segregation wall and the continuous demolition of their homes.  Clearly, this impedes any opportunity for a future peace.

It is a known fact that the Palestinians at all levels condemn any act of violence that target civilians.  Palestinians are against terrorism, whether the perpetrators are a group or a state. It is an unfortunate by-product of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people, however, that breeds individuals and groups who, out of a deep despair and intense frustration would make such extreme choices and decide to revenge in a way that claims their lives too. These individuals who reach a point where their death, to them, is much better than living the way they are forced to under such occupation, those who could not handle the humiliation of the Israeli soldiers, these are human choices too.

Even though the play tried to explore part of the mental status of “Malik”, and touched briefly on some of his reasoning to carry on his plan, the play failed in most part to show the following:

The organizations that claim responsibility for the suicide bombings declared a unilateral truce for 6 months, and honored the commitment, until Israel provoked them by assassinating their leaders.

Last month, these organizations suggested putting in place a bilateral truce of 10 years in order to mutually avoid targeting civilians on both sides.  Israel refused.

It is important to know too, that no suicide bomber we have ever heard of was ever ordered to do it. It has been proven time and again, that the suicide bombers are the ones who approach the organizations. A large number of the suicide bombers have never been affiliated with any political faction. Some did not even use any explosives, like in the case of a Palestinian vehicle driver hitting a group of Israeli soldiers.

The play does not clarify the fact that the Israel assisted - directly or indirectly – in creating the organizations that condones, and claims responsibility for the suicide bombing. The dynamite is “made in Israel”. It has been known that the Israeli soldiers are the ones who sell and deliver the deadly explosives to the Palestinian.  Facts showed that of all the suicide bombings, not even one time ever happened that a relative of any sort would tell on his/her relative who decided to do the act. Sounds like the scene where the wife tells the Israeli side of what her husband is about to do is just adding salt to the injury. History tells us that the suicide bombers do not inform any one of their plans. For a wife to tell on her husband, sounds like a form of betrayal that never took place. It does not explain the fact that Israel does facilitate the suicide bombing in some cases for political gains. It has been known that Israel “invites” suicide bombers to come in by lifting certain check points and other procedures that the suicide bombers understand.  Even though the conflict constitutes two sides, it does not mention anything of Israel.

Also, the play does not:

  • Explore the miserable life of the Palestinians under occupation.

  • Explore the inhuman life that the Palestinian refugees

  • Explore the collective punishments that the Palestinian have to face on a daily basis.

  • Mention anything of 8,000 Palestinians in jail as we speak.

  • Show thousands of Palestinian acreages being bulldozed, uprooting trees and crops.

  • Show Israel demolishing the Palestinian homes, also, bulldozing the American girl, Rachael Corrie, murdering British peacemaker, Tom Hurndall and British journalist, James Mitchell. 

  • Show thousands of Palestinian acreages being annexed.

  • Show how many Palestinian kids have been shot dead, most in upper part of the body.

  • Mention what Palestinian kids have to go through just making the dangerous trip to school, back and forth.

  • Show the Palestinian pregnant women who lost their babies at the Israeli humiliation check points.

  • The Israelis shot dead many ambulance drivers.

  • Show that Israel shot dead many journalists, including non-Palestinians.

  • Mention anything about the segregation wall, the 760 checkpoints, the electrified fences, and roadblocks of the Israeli army between Tel Aviv and any place that is 40 miles from it.

  • Show the incredible damages that the colonies have done to the Palestinian lives.

  • Show how for example 200,000 Palestinians in Hebron live under the mercy of 400 Israeli settlers.

  • Show that Israel denies the whole Palestinian population from the drinking and the irrigation water, even from their own wells on their land.

  • Show that Israel ruins the Palestinians life, by forcing curfews.

  • Show the Israelis preventing the Palestinians the right to access worship places.

  • Show the Israelis preventing the Palestinians the right to education.

  • Show the miserable life of the Palestinian actors, actresses, stage managers, etc. that they do not know if they will ever see their families again every time they go for rehearsals.

For further research on the occupation and its negative effects, and other relevant topics, please visit our web site at www.pac-usa.org or call us at 713-762-2228.  You can also e-mail us at info@pac-usa.org.

We welcome any and all of your questions and comments.

Thank you,
Palestine Affairs Council
Kamal Khalil

© 2005 Palestinian American Council