I saw a powerful play tonight, There Is a Field, about the death during a protest of 17-year-old Aseel Asleh, a Palestinian living in Israel, in October 2000. Jen Marlowe, a human rights activist and writer, wrote the play; she knew Aseel when she was a counselor at the Seeds ofPeace camp, which brings together children from all sides from regions in conflict.
The play is based on years of interviews Marlowe had with Aseel’s sister and other members of his family, presenting a heartbreaking account mostly from his sister’s point of view. The Asleh family lived in Arrabeh, a village in northern Israel, and the parents brought up their children to be proud of being Palestinian. Aseel wrote, in a 1998 e-mail to his Seeds of Peace campmates about Land Day commemorations (about the 1976 seizure of Palestinian land by the Israeli government): “We should never forget, but we should forgive.... I will go on. I will make this planet a better place t live and I will go on. For all the souls who only saw pain and sorrow in their eyes; for the souls who will never see a pain of another soul, I promise you I will go on.”
In this presentation, Aseel appears as a very mature, serious yet playful young man, and it is lamentable that his voice and actions were stilled by police in actions that an Israeli commission determined were not justifiable.I’m really glad I saw this performance at Columbia University, the middle of what the playwright calls the Land Day Tour. There Is a Field will be seen at other universities, in Florida, Georgia, and Missouri, and there will be two more performances in New York in mid-April. Check here for more information about tour dates.