We asked Hassan some questions, he responded in the form of a short essay below where he talks about the influences behind, and issues tackled in his new play. Buy tickets now to attend the reading at The Mosaic Rooms on 18 September!
The Tune is Better on The Outside was inspired by certain things that I observed both about the Palestinian struggle and post 2003 invasion Iraq, namely the use of Western values that are assumed to have an intrinsic and inherent “goodness” in the oppression and murder of Palestinians and Iraqis.
Take for example the celebrated French Zionist philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy, who claimed he visited Gaza after the 2009 bombing campaign by Israel (which was a lie, he visited the Abasan al-Jadida, a village 20 miles away from Gaza) and -according to al jazeera English: “waxed lyrical about the two pianos in Ehud Barak’s “long” drawing room and on the “pianist minister” playing his instruments “like a virtuoso”, contributing to the mythical image of an army filled with artistic generals”.
This strategy of pointing through nods and winks that Israel represents White Western High Culture is the manifestation of a racist ideology that uses art and “progressive” values to justify the unjustifiable.
This ideology desecrates all that it touches.
The musical pieces played on Ehud Barak’s piano lose any positive value they might have when deployed by a high profile celebrity intellectual to justify massacres.
None of this is new.
The Nazis also enjoyed “high culture” and presumably listened to their favourite composers as they were pouring over designs of extermination camps.
After the invasion of Iraq, when it turned out that there were no WMDs, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice used Iraqi women in a photo opp to indicate that actually the invasion was all about “liberating the oppressed Iraqi women”.
The fact that Iraqi women enjoyed greater freedom before the invasion was swept under the carpet and the fake narrative that the photo opp was trying to convey was that we Westerners with our inherently superior values have liberated oppressed Muslim women.
Here again, the potentially good value of “women liberation” is used to justify murder and oppression and loses any previously positive moral force it might have had.
This means that as writers and thinkers we now have to be extra vigilant when seemingly good words such as “democracy”, “Women libration” or even references to “High Art” are deployed to justify launching wars of “liberation”. In the age of slick PR machines – such as those used by the Israel lobby in Britain and the USA – we have to be more vigilant about the corruption of language than George Orwell was in his time.
The short play that I wrote tackles these themes in an abstract fashion. However I’m developing these arguments further in a monologue that will be part of a one man show called “Love, Bombs & Apples”. I’m also working on a full length play that touches on the Israel/Palestine conflict called “Maroon”.