Director's note as it appeared in the program of Suhmatah, the play
Under the Pine Trees, the Truth!
I grew up and inside me a persisting question about my neighbors, "the refugees". A simple question got tired of waiting for an answer that supposedly I should have absorbed with my mothers milk: why are they refugees, and what was their crime?
Years passed by before I started to understand my neighbors' silence, and their long stares in the direction of some dirt road on a hill covered with pine trees. Years passed by before I found out that the answer is buried deep in a mass grave of their collective memory. An enemy with long claws had dug it out and buried it, hidden under the shades of non-native pine trees in Suhmatah.
When I arrived at the site, the surface was soft. I opened it, and asked the survivors to tell me what had happened. I took their few words spoken and stuffed it all in my note book, and put some on film. In my new home, in the US, what I had brought in with me refused to sleep. It kept me up telling me the story of Suhmatah, and its sisters, the 418 Palestinian villages which the invaders had destroyed.
The memory spoke, it told me again the story of Suhmatah. It told me about the reason for the long silence among my people. It became clear to me that the story was full of pain, but devoid of pride or heroism. It's filled with fear and terror, and stunk of blood and death. It cries with screams of the children and the women, and the quiet weeping of the elders. The memory spoke and said that the victim, Suhmatah, was buried alive! It is still convulsing in its last breath which has lasted 50 years.
I am only the stranger ( -or the native who lives abroad), I loved my land, felt the pain, and screamed; they asked me to be a witness. They asked: who is the killer?
I said: Them, they still hold on to the weapon.
They said: Where is the victim?
I said: Suhmatah, and she is still alive!
Where is she?
I said: In the heart of every Suhmani along with her sisters.
They said: Do you witness it?
I said: I do, I do.
And they said: Why, and what's your request?
I said: you either kill her to put her to rest, or, grant her life for her insisting on life.
But, how can the real killer have any mercy when he is one of her own, an Arab? He comes to her to rob her of her shoe and beautiful necklace! Suhmatah told me: they stole my house stone by stone, they picked my figs and pomegranate and ran. They sell it on road sides and bus stops. Suhmatah is still giving her goods, still bleeding honey and milk; so how can an Arab sink his teeth into her while she is still alive? The honey from her figs and pomegranates will turn into venom in his veins, and it may kill the ignorance and lethargy of long years of defeat.
I ask you to relive the memories with me, so it can give life to those whose life was taken from them half a century ago. And those who survived are also perishing with false hope planted in their hips like sword. Time is running out on those who can still remember!
We must dig up the graves. Let the smell of the crime scream in the face of the world for the atrocities: justice! Or there will be no peace to nobody without mine, and my peace is in my return, all of the return, to all of Palestine.
Director/ playwright of Suhmatah