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Shadia: Play shows us all sides of the conflict

Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

April 11, 2012|By Mona Shadia

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict was one of the first crises I knew about growing up.

And if you're Middle Eastern, Muslim or Jewish, the conflict is probably one of those things you can't escape.

I would love to be able to tell you exactly what I think. But I won't.

Instead I'll tell you this: I've studied it extensively, read about it, written grad school papers about it and know each side. There are more than just two.

I encourage you to set your emotions aside and find a good, objective source to read about each side. Then make up your own mind.

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When I heard about a play in Los Angeles regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I was hesitant to watch it or write about it at all. But several people told me it was a good show.

I thought using "Sarah's War" to write about the conflict would be a way to address it without making it about politics.

The play, produced by Freedom Theatre West, is about a 23-year-old American woman who decides to join the International Solidarity Movement in the Palestinian Territories. She first goes to her uncle, who's Jewish, to ask for monetary support, but he passionately refuses, cites rocket attacks on Israelis and tells her to go to medical school or find another way to make a positive difference in the world.

She goes anyway.

Sarah's story is not fictional. There was a woman named Rachel Corrie who once decided to join the International Solidarity Movement in the Palestinian Territories.

In Gaza, Sarah faces Israelis, who view her as a terrorist sympathizer, and Palestinians, who believe she's a spy.

And that's where I noticed the great service this play is doing for audiences, and also for those who might see only one side of the conflict.

One character is an Israeli Defense Forces soldier who wants to be a teacher and feels conflicted about serving, but has also lost his father in a suicide bombing. His friend, a religious Jew, warns him not to enlist and tells him that once in, there's no going back.

He tries to get approval to serve in a less sensitive area, but that request is turned down by his superior, who tells him his options are very limited and they include military prison.

Then there's Sarah, who's tormented over the 8-year-old Palestinian girl and many others like her who get killed by the Israeli military, the bulldozers that keep taking down Palestinian homes and, of course, the olive trees.

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