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The play, “Your Neighbor Like Yourself,” starring Prototype soloist, Eyal Shechter: advancing the awareness of youth concerning tolerance and acceptance of the other

first Published  : 20/10/2016   Last Updated: 20/10/2016 

   

At a time when a 16-year-old girl is murdered during a Pride March, the entire Ethiopian community is considered suspect from the get-go of committing crimes, and the Arabs surge to the ballot boxes en masse, comes a theater production that attempts to shake the future generation of Israeli society into looking racism in the eye. The creators of the play – Alma Weich Hoshen and Noga Elkin Efrat, with the participation of the Coalition against Racism - will unveil the play for the first time on September 23, 2016 at the Tmu-na Theater in Tel-Aviv.
 
The purpose of the project, “Your Neighbor Like Yourself,” is education for tolerance and for acceptance of the other in an experiential and cognitive manner, by means of a play that will be performed for young people.  This educational-theatrical project will serve as a tool to increase awareness about racism and will challenge viewers to examine their positions in relation to the racist events that are depicted before them.  In the beginning, the play will be presented to youth of junior high and high school age throughout the country, though in the future likely it will be ed up to other groups.
 
The text of the play is constructed like a collage of information segments, internet posts, skits, speeches, and monologues that were written on the basis of news stories.  The framework of the play is a lesson about the Human Rights charter of the United Nations.
 
The play s with a set of short and chopped-up testimonies concerning crimes of violence and racist phenomena in Israel and in the world.  Right after this, the lesson begins with a reading of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” which was first published in 1948.  The various stories on the subject interrupt the lesson.  This violent reality takes over the lesson.  The stories reflect the social sphere that we live in: expressions of suspicion and hatred between Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, the attitude towards work migrants, to Ethiopian immigrants, to Russian speakers, etc.  Alongside them are interwoven expressions of Anti-Semitism in Europe, remembrances from the Holocaust, youth delegations to Poland, and sections of Nazi propaganda.
 
So, for example, we hear the story of a French Jew who was kidnapped by masked Arabs in Paris and was forced to draw a swastika on himself and the story of Mohammed, an Arab student who worked in a hotel in Jerusalem, who was kidnapped by a Jewish family from Afula that accused him of not cleaning their room.
 
The various stories in the play are interwoven with humorous sections that show our prejudices in a ridiculous light, for example, two women who are deliberating who is the best cleaning lady: the Thai woman, the Philippina, the Arab woman, the kibbutznik or the student.
 
With the help of this play, young people will be able to gain practical tools to deal with instances of hatred and racism towards the other and to develop critical thinking about them.  At the end of the event, there will be a discussion with the students whose purpose is to work on the content that was presented, to develop awareness of the price of prejudice and hatred of the other, and to strengthen tolerance and empathy towards those who are different.
 
Independent theatre producers Alma Weich Hoshen and Noga Elkin Efrat lead the project, with the participation of the Coalition against Racism.  Among other things, the two produced “Price Tag,” a play about the boundaries of democracy, which won prizes at the 2013 Akko Festival.  The two jointly teach and organize the theatre course of study at Ben Zvi High School in Kiryat Ono.