Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fiddler With No Roof

Q&A buffs out there may remember when Israeli historian Ilan Pappe was on the panel last September.

They may even remember this particular question from one, Marrianne Fraser:

"After all the pogroms throughout the centuries, with Jews never being able to own land in any country they lived in and being forced from their homes time and again as portrayed so well in my favourite musical Fiddler on the Roof, and after the Holocaust, isn't it just for Jews to have been given a place to call their own?"

Certainly, they'll remember Pappe's memorable reply:

"You know, this kind of question always reminds me of people setting off in search of a refuge for battered women and abused children. They find a home where another family lives, throw them off the balcony, and their home becomes the refuge." (The rest of that response and more may be found in my 22/9/12 post The Nakba Comes to Q&A.)

Well, Fiddler on the Roof's Tevye has made a welcome reappearance in a new Rabbis4 Human Rights production called Theodore Bikel: It hurts that the descendents of Anatevka expel Israeli Bedouin, just posted on YouTube.

Set against the backdrop of Israeli government bulldozers demolishing the Bedouin village of El-Araqib, and Israeli troops terrorising its inhabitants, apparently to make way for a Jewish National Fund project called 'The Ambassadors Forest', Tevye, in trademark cap, makes the following plea:

"My name is Theodore Bikel and I want to ask you to help prevent a terrible moral tragedy.

"I've spent much of my life playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. I see a parallel with what is happening today. 40,000 Bedouins in the Negev Desert are being told to get out of their homes.

"Remember the scene in Fiddler on the Roof when the Russians arrived and tell them they have 3 days to get out? Tevye says, Why should I get out? He says, Not just you, all of you! Tevye says, Why should we leave? He says, I don't know why. I have an order here. Tevye says, A piece of paper can get me out? What if we refuse to leave? He says, You know the consequences of refusal.

"It hurts me. But what hurts me even more is the fact that the very people who are telling them to get out are the descendents of the people of Anatevka - my people. I want to prevent that. I want to prevent an injustice. I want you to help and join me and join the Rabbis4 Human Rights."

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