web analytics
August 4, 2015 / 19 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Home » Sections » Arts »

Brotherly Hatred


By Ilan Hatsor, Translated by Michael Taub

Directed by Ami Dayan

Opened August 2, 2007

DR2 Theater

103 E 15th Street, New York




         If an Israeli settler and a Palestinian shopkeeper sat through Israeli playwright Ilan Hatsor’s Masked, both might feel betrayed and misrepresented. The Israeli would worry that the play portrays all Israelis as callous occupiers, who see helicopters, soldiers and tanks as the only solution to difficult problems. Meanwhile, the Palestinian could complain that the play presents Palestinians as selfish activists, who are so frustrated by Israeli occupation that they apply some Middle Eastern derivation of the law of the jungle: each man for himself, against brother and neighbor alike. This suggests that Hatsor is either an unbiased playwright, who crafts his scripts with journalistic objectivity and generosity to none, or an equal opportunity provocateur, whose passion is making enemies. Hatsor, of course, is neither, or else the play would not merit attention.


         Masked explores the relationships of three Palestinian brothers: Khalid (Sanjit DeSilva), Daoud (Daoud Heidami) and Na’im (Arian Moayed). Daoud, who is 30, works as a dishwasher in Tel Aviv and supports not only his wife and child, but also Khalid, his parents, and their paralyzed brother, Nidal, who was struck by Israeli fire. Na’im, who is in his mid-20s, is a leader in a resistance group (perhaps Hamas, though the name never surfaces in the play), a group in which the 18-year-old Khalid, who stays home to care for Nidal, appears scheduled for promotion.


         The play begins amidst an already tense conversation, and viewers gradually learn that Daoud is collaborating with Israeli secret police by naming militants. Appropriately, the entire play is set in the back of the butcher shop where Khalid works, which conveniently provides an ill-lit, dungeon-like room, with ample hooks, knives and other sharp objects with which the characters threaten, and ultimately committ violence to one another.



Arian Moayed and Daoud Heidami in Masked. Photograph by Aaron Epstein.



         Viewers who read the playbill will find an unusual and unlikely director’s note on the inside cover of the booklet. Dayan, who admits to being “stunned, concerned, enraged, paralyzed, [and] on the edge of my seat” after reading the play for the first time, suggests the play is apolitical. “Masked is not a pro-Palestinian play. It is not a pro-Israeli play,” he writes. “It is a play about human beings forced to make brutal choices in a time of crisis. It reinforces that there are no easy answers to difficult questions.” He adds that the fact that an 18-year-old Israeli wrote the play (Hatsor wrote it 17 years ago) about three Palestinian brothers “adds to the complexity.” The director’s note ends with a plea: “Please put aside preconceptions, agendas and political doctrines.”


         This Holy Grail of the New Critical approach, entering the world of the play with no preconceived notions, is perhaps unattainable, but Hatsor makes a good case that it is worth trying.


         Plays are not only supposed to be exciting plots. They should have great nuance and sophistication in their themes and symbolism. But it always helps to be a great storyteller, and Hatsor is a master. The play leaves viewers on the edges of their seats until its very final moments, and it achieves that through great dialog. When Na’im confronts Daoud with his spying, Daoud suggests they all run away together and forget their troubles, but Khalid refuses to come: “I won’t go as far as the door with you. Just thinking of what you’ve offered us makes me sick … How can I walk around the village, after you… why? Why? Why?” The ensuing discussion is one of the gutsiest and most honest I’ve ever seen in a play about the Middle East:


         DAOUD: To stay alive. Just think what Na’im’s people would have done to me if I hadn’t. You know what they do? They… skin you, and you’re still alive. That’s what they mean by courage… They’re scared of the Israelis, so they let out their venom, right here, on us. They’re heroes… against whom? Against ordinary people, so stifled by the Israelis that they don’t have any strength anymore. They’re told how to behave, what to believe, what to think, when to eat… And if they don’t like you, they kill you. Without a sentence. Just like that. Because a couple of kids think they should… (To Na’im)… All I know is how much blood, how much of our blood you’ve spilled for them. You and your militias have killed more of us then [sic] the Israeli!”


         Khalid interjects, but Na’im cuts him off:


         “… It’s a struggle! Otherwise we don’t deserve what we get… You’re my big brother. I’m leaving you now. You’re going to climb to the top of the mosque and shout into the loudspeakers for the whole village to hear: ‘I’m Daoud. I handed over your sons; I blew up your homes. I’m a squealer, this is my punishment.’ And then you’ll jump. You’ll jump. It’ll be fast and painless, and more important: it’s the only way you’ll save your name. And ours. The only way. Don’t let anyone touch you, because if they do, you’ll not only die like a dog, but your son will be cursed as well. Get up, my brother. Get up and do it.”



Sanjit DeSilva, Arian Moayed and Daoud Heidami. Photograph by Aaron Epstein.



         Daoud considers a suicidal tell-all, but he refuses, and instead tries again in vain to get the upper hand. The game then becomes a mixture of “Waiting for Godot” and “Chicken,” with Daoud hoping the IDF shows up before Na’im’s Leadership does.


         The trouble with Hatsor’s approach to exploring the intifada is that while trying to remain apolitical, it also feels nihilistic. As in a Kafka play, Masked has no winners. Everything seems stacked against everyone, and there is no way out. Rather than fixing things or improving themselves, the characters become tragic heroes only when they accept their fate of being cogs in a grand machine (here, the struggle).


         “In Masked there are no winners and losers. The tragedy lies in the awful situation they find themselves in – under occupation, besieged, hopeless, no future, no work, no dignity,” wrote Michael Taub, translator of the play and professor at Purchase College in New York, through email. “The play is very realistic – it shows the naked truth about the situation in the territories – especially for young men. It shows the point of view of Palestinians, not Israelis.” He added that the play carries relevance for a variety of crises: the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the French in Algeria in the 1950s and the United States in Vietnam and in Iraq in 2007.


         Obviously, Hatsor cannot be expected to solve the problems of the Middle East. He is a playwright and not a politician (and even politicians cannot seem to find solutions). Although the play is in fact quite political in many ways, it is still especially relevant to the situation in Israel, even though Jewish Press readers are in sympathy with the  Israelis. Within the world of the play – which one hopes does not characterize the world beyond the play – there is no peaceful solution and no escaping destiny, but the play succeeds in its portrayal of three, uneducated, poor men trying to achieve nobility and maintain the honor in a desperate situation. They may fail, but they have to try.


         Menachem Wecker is a painter, writer and editor based in Washington, D.C. He welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com

About the Author: Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Brotherly Hatred”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Spielberg, Clinton and Saban.
Clinton’s Big Jewish Donors are Hollywood Leftists
Latest Sections Stories

An impressive group of counselors and staff members are providing the boys and girls with a summer of fun and Torah learning and a lifetime of wonderful memories.


Rabbi Sam Intrator recently led a summer program in Williams Island, located in Aventura. The event focused on how to find spiritual joy in Judaism. The rabbi cited biblical and Talmudic teachings, ancient Temple rituals, and the words of prayers to establish the role that love and positive thinking have in Torah values. Rabbi Intrator […]


The Iranian deal was sealed on July 14, four and a half months after Netanyahu’s visit. The details of the agreement were shocking and worse than anyone had imagined.

There are so many toys available for newborn to age 5, but how do you choose?

In 1939, with life getting harder for Jews, she and several friends decided it was time to make aliyah, and applied at the Palestina Amt for permits.

I am not sure how many of you readers have had this experience, but I did and it truly tested the limits of my sanity!

Aside from my own 485-page tome on the subject, Red Army, I think Jamie Glazov did an excellent job at framing things in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

We studied his seforim together, we listened to famous cantorial masters and we spoke of his illustrious yichus, his pedigree, dating back to the famous commentator, Rashi.

Jews who were considered, but not ultimately selected, include Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, David Ben-Gurion, Marc Chagall, Anne Frank, and Barbra Streisand.

More Articles from Menachem Wecker
Menachem Wecker

The exhibit, according to a statement from guest curator Michele Waalkes which is posted on the museum website, “examines how faith can inform and inspire artists in their work, whether their work is symbolic, pictorial, or textual in nature. It further explores how present-day artwork can lead audiences to ponder God, religious themes, venerated traditions, or spiritual insights.”


It all started at an art and education conference at the Yeshiva University Museum. When one of the speakers misidentified a Goya painting at the Frick Collection, both the gentleman sitting next to me and I turned to each other and corrected the error simultaneously.

One of my favorite places when I was growing up in Boston was the used bookstore on Beacon and St. Mary’s streets. Boston Book Annex could play a used bookshop on television; it was dimly lit and cavernous, crawling with cats, and packed with a dizzying array of books, many of which sold three for a dollar. But used bookstores of this sort, however picturesque and inviting, are a relatively modern phenomena. In the Middle Ages, for example, I would never have been able to afford even a single used book unless I had been born into an aristocratic family. (Full disclosure, I was not.)

Jewish medals, several with Hebrew inscriptions and provocative imagery, were among the gems at The European Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, Netherlands, as I wrote in these pages two weeks ago. Another mini-trend at the fair, which will interest Jewish art aficionados, was an abundance of works by Marc Chagall.

It’s virtually impossible to ignore the financial aspects of TEFAF Maastricht, the annual arts and antiques fair in the historic city about two hours south of Amsterdam. More than 250 dealers from nearly 20 countries sell their wares—which span from Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary sculptures—in the halls of the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre, whose corridors are adorned by nearly 65,000 tulips.

Max Ferguson’s 1993 painting Katz’s may be the second most iconic representation of the kosher-style delicatessen after the 1989 Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan film, When Harry Met Sally. Ferguson’s photorealistic painting depicts the deli from an interesting perspective, which is simultaneously inviting and hostile—in short, the dichotomy of deli culture.

The whole idea of an artful pushka (tzeddakah or charity box) is almost a tease, if not an outright mockery. Isn’t there something pretty backward about investing time and money in an ornate container to hold alms for the poor?

Located about nine miles north of Madrid, the Palacio Real de El Pardo (Pardo Palace) dates back to the early 15th century. Devastated by a March 13, 1604 fire that claimed many works from its priceless art collection, the Pardo Palace and its vast gardens were used as a hunting ground by the Spanish monarchs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/brotherly-hatred/2007/08/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: