Silencing Palestinian voices

This article was published by Overland on July 5, 2016.

The most recent battleground for Palestinian voices in Australia was the hearts and minds of high-school drama students – and a play portraying love and idealism in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

When it premiered in 2014, Tales of a City by the Sea, by Palestinian-Australian Samah Sabawi, enjoyed a sell-out season and praise from the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. But a few weeks ago, after pro-Israel groups registered their displeasure, questions about its appropriateness for Year 12 drama students were raised by politicians from both major parties.

More than 1400 Palestinians – 82 per cent of them civilians – were killed during Operation Cast Lead, in which 4000 homes were also destroyed by bombardments and Israeli ground troops. Ten soldiers and three civilians were killed on the Israeli side.

Tales of a City by the Sea’s 2014 premiere was due to occur on the same day in Melbourne and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but two months before that could happen the Gaza Strip was again decimated in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

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