Published on December 18th, 2014 | by Ido Kenan0
Israelis, Palestinians – Just Peace Off!
Your movie Peace after Marriage depicts a Palestinian sex-addict, failure with women who’s short for cash and lives with his parents, and an Israeli who can’t hold on to a relationship, lives in a tiny apartment and looking for a green-card marriage. Do you perceive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a joke, albeit a tragic one, or a loveless marriage?
Ghazi Albuliwi: “I consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as both a tragic one and loveless marriage. Tragic in the sense that you have two cultures, two religions, that descended from the same biblical story and man (Abraham). In a sense it’s a family drama/tragedy/bad soap opera that is rooted in anger over a father forced to chose between his two sons: Ishmael and Isaac, and how those two sons have grown to be the father’s of today’s Arabs and Jews. Yes, it is a loveless marriage in many ways. And if Israelis and Palestinians were in marriage counseling the therapist would say, “You need to rekindle the old sexual spark.” In my film “Peace after Marriage” sex for me was the one bridging barrier that I felt humanized our two leads who happened to be Palestinian and Israeli, forgetting about the religious and political issues. I think that needs to happen in real life in order to bridge our differences in a humanistic way. Israelis and Palestinians need to start having sex. Let Abraham’s children come together once again both literally and figuratively”.
How did Israelis, Jews and Palestinians react to your movie?
“The Israelis who watched my film when it opened the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival last year liked and even loved it. I had Israelis coming up to me after the screening offering me dates with their single Jewish daughters. Palestinians however have not yet watched the film in the Holy Land. But, on our Peace after Marriage Facebook page, which has over twenty thousand followers from just this December month, many of the Palestinians on there are excited to see the film having watched the new movie trailer. But, there are also Jews and Palestinians who are also very angry with the message of my film. I had one Jerusalem Rabbi post a comment: ‘All Torah loving Jews must avoid this movie. Arabs marrying Jews will be the death of Israel. Boycott this movie.’ And I had one Palestinian from the West Bank city of Nablus say, ‘Muslims should not marry Jewish Zionist occupiers.’ The fact that I can bring right wing Jews and right wing Arabs together in agreement, when they’ve never agreed on anything, means I did something right with my film”.
You’re going to attend non-diplomatic peace talks at the Comedy for a Change conference. What are you going to suggest there?
“My message will be an alternative proposal to the current roadblock between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. My message, which I’ve touched on in this interview, will be revolutionary, and if followed by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians, will bring about peace in the Holy Land. I want Israelis and Palestinians to attend the Peace Talks conference at Comedy for a Change to hear my peace proposal. My plan will address all the major sticking points including: right of return for all Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem’s final status, and how to release the current anger between both sides to bring about a lasting peace in the region. People will find the debate between me and Israeli TV host Lior Schleien, who will be presenting his peace initiative on behalf of Israelis, hilarious”.
Do you think comedy and humor can really solve conflicts, even when they are nationally or religiously charged?
I don’t think comedy can solve the conflict when it comes to religion or nationality, but what it can do is make those in disagreement question the conflict and the hate behind it subconsciously. There’s a joke my lead character Arafat says during the movie about having had sex with his Israeli love interest for the first time. He says, “It’s the first time a Palestinian has exploded that close to an Israeli without causing causalities.” That joke made a lot of Israelis laugh during the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival laugh and it also made a lot of Arabs laugh during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival when the movie premiered there. Did I change their minds about the conflict? No. But in that instant moment of laughter both sides forgot about hating each other as they laughed together, even though they were not in the same theater when it happened”.
Was your movie screened in Israel, besides the Jewish Film Festival last year? If not, why? If it was, what reactions did you get from Israelis?
“No, it has not screened beyond the Jewish Film Festival last year. I really can’t tell you why it has not screened or been brought up for distribution into theaters in Israel. I think the movie would be loved by Israelis here. The only reason I can think of why the film has not been shown since last year in Israel is a secret plot by the Likud party against the film. The Orthodox settlers do not want my message of free love and sex between their Jewish women and Palestinian men to spread. Look at the Jewish Nation Bill. The bill is not about maintaining Jewish identity, it’s about stopping Palestinians like me from ever having the opportunity to meet a nice Israeli girl to marry and eat hummus with”.
Do people tell you you have a Jewish sense of humor? Being Jordanian born and Brooklyn raised, where do you think it comes from?
“Yes, I’ve been compared to Woody Allen in the press in part because we both come from a stand-up comedy background and grew up in New York City. I joke around, but it’s true, if you live in New York City long enough you automatically convert to being a neurotic Jew. You have no choice in the matter. My sense of humor, which does lean on the Jewish side, comes from early Jewish comedic influences: Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, and Neil Simon to name a few”.
A slightly different, Hebrew version of this story was published on Haaretz, 18 Dec, 2014