Palestinian play to remain on school curriculum


Calls for a controversial play depicting life in Gaza to be removed from the Victorian school curriculum have been rejected by the state government.

Critics of the production 'Tales of a City by the Sea' say it portrays Israel as a "blood-thirsty war machine".

For Palestinian-born playwright Samah Sabawi, it is a love story.

The story explores the difficulties confronting those wanting to marry someone from the "outside", and is told largely through a dilemma faced by female lead Jamana.

“Choose to be with the love of her life and leaving her home for ever, and possibly not seeing her family for ever or staying with her family - and not seeing the love of her life,” Ms Sabawi said.

Hundreds of year 12 students are booked in to see the play, which is on at La Mama theatre in May.  

Dr Dvir Abramovich from the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission said the decision to introduce the production to Victorian high school curriculum was inappropriate.

“This is one of the most disturbing and cleverly conceived cases of anti-Israel propaganda and de-legitimisation that I've ever seen and I think it's very troubling that this skewed play is now part of the VCE curriculum and it will certainly poison the minds of impressionable young people,” Dr Abramovich said.

Victoria's Education Minister James Merlino said the play would remain as part of year 12 drama curriculum.

Mr Merlino released a statement saying he was confident drama teachers would ensure students understood the full context surrounding the issue.

Ms Sabawi said it is the critics who have politicised an otherwise non-confrontational production, and she has been baffled by the response.

“To come to me and expect me as a Palestinian-Australian writer to be responsible for telling their narrative whatever that may be - I think it's ludicrous,” she said.

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