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Michael Nathanson
Dylan Hewlett


Michael Nathanson interviews Dylan Hanley

Michael Nathanson, October 23, 2012

As I write this note on Tuesday, October 23, the work on the play is actually done. We’ll have a preview performance tonight and the show opens Wednesday night. By the time you’ll read this entry, some reviews will be in and we’ll have an idea how the play is being received.

In association with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, we’re having a special event on Tuesday, October 30 at 8 PM we’ve called "DAI-Louge." For a special price of only $18, you can see the play and attend the talkback that will take place after the show. I’ll be moderating the talkback which will feature a special guest, Dylan Hanley, who is the Director of Canadian Academics for Peace. He’ll be joined on stage by the actress of DAI (Enough), Rebecca Auerbach. Tickets for this special event can be bought by calling the WJT box office at 204-477-7478.

I sent Dylan Hanley a few questions over email and here’s our exchange. We’d love to see you at the talkback and have you as part of the conversation.

MN: I programmed the play DAI (Enough) because I thought it did a beautiful job of presenting the complexity of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the experiences of those living the conflict. What aspects of the situation in Israel do you think most Canadians fail to grasp?

DH: I actually think that the aspect most Canadians fail to grasp is the normalcy of it all—that is, that life goes on on both sides. I regularly bring groups to the region, and this always strikes them when walking around Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, where they see their peers—young Jews and Arabs alike—going out with their friends, having dinner, going to the movies. Life really does go on, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find many who want to live anywhere else, despite the challenges of the conflict.

MN: The character of Svetlana says that Israelis "have hope in something they know is impossible. They have hope in life of peace, but they are smart enough to know it's never going to happen." What's your reaction to that statement?

DH: I genuinely believe that peace is possible, and will be achieved with two states for two peoples. However, there is a long road to travel with a lot of complicated obstacles before we get there. As for myself, I try to focus on the positives, and (on the Israeli side) especially the remarkable success of the country in terms of the high-tech economy, the vibrant culture, and the beautiful country they have built up for themselves.

MN: Several of the characters in the play speak to the despair suffered by the Palestinians and that the security wall has caged them in "like animals." The Palestinian professor character, Nijma Aziz, says of the wall, "That is the Israeli stupidity." How do we reconcile their reactions with the knowledge that there has been a notable lack of successful suicide bombings since the wall has been built?

DH: I would strongly suggest that the problem isn't the security barrier, it is the impact of the continuing conflict on the Palestinians and Israelis alike, and that the barrier has become a symbol of this for the Palestinians. The important thing to remember in all of this is that the two sides are not aiming for reconciliation here—they are aiming for divorce. There are some ongoing concerns about the specific routing of the barrier, but I would suggest that any country is permitted to build a fence along their borders if they wish to do so, and that time would be better spent in working on continuing to grow hope in West Bank through a focus on economic growth, education, and international trade.

MN: I was asked why an audience should sit through this play, given its difficult subject matter. I believe it's important to present plays that can entertain and enlighten and that the Middle East conflict proves incredibly difficult to talk about. Why do you think people should attend DAI (Enough)?

DH: I think that the play attempts to show a multitude of perspectives to the conflict going on in the Middle East. My mother always told me to try to put myself in the shoes of the other. The problem with this conflict is that there isn't one "other." There are a multitude of "others," and this play attempts to place the audience in each of their "shoes" for a brief time—a tremendously valuable exercise for anyone trying to understand this complicated conflict.

MN: The play starts out with a British television reporter whose bias clearly seems to be anti-Israeli. How distorted do you find North American and European reporting on the conflict?

DH: In the Canadian press, I find coverage to be hit and miss. I have witnessed some stories which lack context and only focus upon a personal narrative in a difficult situation, usually from the Palestinian perspective. However, I would suggest that the global press is guilty of focusing solely on the conflict, notwithstanding whether it is "biased" towards one side or another. This leave Palestinians and Israelis as political "facts" rather than real people in the eyes of much of the world.

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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