An eye-opening play hitting the Israeli stage is exhibiting the daily struggle that Palestinians in the LGBTQ+ face, whether in their home region or wherever they seek refuge.
"Sharif" focuses on the plight of the many Palestinians in the West Bank who identify as LGBTQ+, some of whom sometimes seek refuge in Israel or other countries. i24NEWS sat down with the play’s writer and director, Tomer Aldubi, who talked about the production and why it’s such an important topic to highlight.
Aldubi started to investigate the story three years ago when he met gay Palestinians who had fled the West Bank to Israel. “They told me their stories. It was very difficult to understand them and the meaning of their difficulties.”
The writer-director explained that he found it difficult to find people who wanted to be involved in the taboo topic, especially in Israeli-Arab society. “It was difficult to find actors and ask them to play ‘gay’ on stage. But I am very happy I got to work with Arabs and Jews together, a mixed production was important.”
“We had many Palestinians and Jews from the LGBTQ+ community come to watch, and I think they loved it. They feel, at least the Palestinians, that their stories are being told for the very first time."
LGBTQ+ people in the West Bank or Gaza face a precarious situation due to a lack of civil rights legislation that protects them from discrimination or harassment. For example, in 2019, the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority banned LGBTQ+ members from carrying out activities that were “detrimental to the values and ideals of Palestinian society.
“This is the main reason they flee to Israel. If they had any chance to stay in West Bank, they’d prefer that. So when they come to Israel, it’s the last chance for them to stay alive,” Aldubi continued.
“But that’s a short-term solution because eventually, the Israeli state won’t let them stay, so they must move somewhere else,” he said, adding: “It shows the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a different way. This is a time for us to know more about the topic, as Palestinians are looking for other countries to take them as refugees.”
Reprinted with permission from i24NEWS.