Miri Maoz-Ovadia
Miri Maoz-Ovadia Miri Maoz-Ovadia, married to Shlomo and mother of Naveh, lives in Neve Tzuf. She is the overseas spokespersons coordinator for the Binyamin Regional Council. Friday 4.9.15 No comments 2979 views

The Show Must Go On?

Shows are nice. Definitely those deep, emotional shows that tug at your heartstrings and stimulate you to think. I go out to shows occasionally, for the experience and for all of the reasons I just mentioned. But there’s one thing I’ll never do – I’ll never sit in the front row. Usually because of the price, I admit it (why pay four times more when it’s the same as sitting in the last row with binoculars?). Yet, even if there’s no difference in price, I don’t like sitting there. Too close, too intimate. Stresses me out.

But at one show, against my will, I’m always stuck in the first row. It’s not a one-time show; it’s called “Friday Culture” in our community of Neve Tzuf. It started quite a few years ago and is loyal to its dedicated audience – it is never cancelled. Never. Except those rare occasions when there is a heavy downpour of rain or snow, and the freezing white keeps everyone at home, under their covers, regardless of religion or nationality, ideals or acting talent…

The script is set in advance, the location occasionally changes, there are sometimes guest stars but usually, it’s the same family, the same girl with the angelic face who steals the show…

A year ago, when we moved to the community, we happily settled down in the last caravan on the outskirts, opposite the view of Tel Aviv (at night, you can see the Azrieli Towers…), where we can enjoy the peace and quiet.

Until Friday arrives and we discover that we just won front row tickets that never expire. We hear the thunderous sermon from the mosque that sometimes sounds violent, the shouting that gets louder and louder as the march gets further from the village. We see them running on the hilltops and our soldiers situating themselves every time according to the current location. When the show reaches its climax, we hear explosions and our eyes well up with tears that stay until our Friday night prayers from the gas that is sprayed. (Over there, they come prepared with personal gas masks, as I saw in pictures from last week.)

A journalist friend of mine wanted to come over last Friday to watch the show. I told him when it starts. He said he was running late so I promised to let him know when the action was actually starting. If I’m sitting in the front row anyway, why not help a friend out…I invited him in to drink a cup of water at the end of the show. The regular Friday Culture show.

It turned out that he had come on one of the most successful days – the show was action-packed, a real thriller. The result was a great photo – “Desperate Palestinian women try to free child with a broken arm as he is held in a headlock by an IDF soldier.” Yet again, the residents of Nabi Saleh make headlines, which is a smashing success for them; after all, they have countless PR advisors helping them achieve a winning news item.

***

I feel that we here on the opposite mountain don’t know how what to think of this show anymore. Pangs of frustration and anger as we see the truth twisted are felt anew every time. There were already numerous journalists here, some who actually wanted to listen and understand, and some who simply used us as supporting actors in their films, quoting and filming and taking every word we said out of context. And the show goes on, every Friday, always. How many times have I driven by our community while the show was underway without thinking about it too much, hurrying to prepare for the Sabbath on time. I know that when they finish the show, they probably do the same. They come home, and if it was a successful Friday, upload the videos to Facebook right away. It’s possible that we’ve developed a sort of apathy toward this repetitive show. What we do know is that when the show’s over, real life begins. Those actors in the show won’t think twice about coming to our community’s gate, at the late hours of the night or in the middle of our holiday meals, to ask for medical treatment for an illness, car accident or simply feeling faint. We know that we won’t think twice about hurrying to the gate to provide first aid to anyone who needs it.

***

Every time I sit with foreign visitors, journalists, students and political leaders, and I am asked about the neighborly relations between us and the Arabs, I speak my truth. I want to live in peace. I want to have good neighborly relationships. I always proudly mention my husband who works with Arab contractors from the region. I share that I took Arabic in high school because I believed it was important (even though the class was cancelled because out of 40 students who started, only 3 remained). I tell them that I wish I had the freedom and ability to visit the village opposite us, and for them to visit us. That mother to mother, person to person, we desire quiet and prosperity.

But afterward in the car, the images that flash through my mind are of those mothers that I just spoke about, who live on the mountain opposite me. The ones who are constantly photographed holding large rocks in their hands; who proudly send their children to clash with the soldiers. These mothers act in violence, educate to violence, and see violence as a way of life.

These mothers who speak of a dispossession of a spring (which is a false accusation to start with) but what they actually shout about at the protests is how they will conquer Palestine with blood and fire. My post-modern interpretation – they apparently are referring to our Jewish blood, and the fire that will burn our houses. After all, that is what they are trying to achieve with the never-ending arson cases that frequently take place near the Jewish communities.

The show goes on, the actors are getting more professional, the photographs hit the headlines, and the gap between the show and reality is growing to the extent that perhaps what they are really left holding onto is the show itself, which has taken over their lives.

“How do you envision the end of the conflict?” I was asked today. I gave a long, wordy answer and I think that my answer was satisfying, but when I got home at the end of the day, I answered myself. I think this conflict will really end when this delusionary, false show moves over and makes room for real 

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