Scripting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


It’s been called a gay Middle Eastern version of "Romeo and Juliet," but as the L.A. Times reports, "Salam Shalom" has been reworked so many times by its author, the script itself has become a microcosm of the very conflict that serves as its backdrop.

When "Salam Shalom" was performed in San Diego in 1996, he opened and closed the play with a recording of "The Song of Peace," which Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been singing at a rally in Tel Aviv just before he was assassinated by a Jewish extremist on Nov. 4, 1995.

After an Israeli army incursion into the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank in 2002 left more than 50 Palestinians dead, Saleem rewrote a scene, erasing references to suicide bombings and substituting dialogue about Israeli aggression.

Three years later, after a bombing in a crowded Tel Aviv market killed three people, Saleem (he uses only his given name) tore up the scene again and returned to the topic of suicide bombings.

Now with "Salam Shalom" in its fourth run in Los Angeles, events in the Middle East have swept through the script again, this time to include the 2008 Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Now, as the lead character, Nabeel, and his Israeli boyfriend, Yaron, try to reconcile their relationship with the conflict dividing their nations and their families, Nabeel ponders the disparity between the Palestinian and Israeli death tolls while Yaron worries about a brother and friends who could be called to fight another war.

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