Disturbing the Peace

JR reviews two ★★★★ picks from Edinburgh's International Shalom Festival: rap opera The City and documentary Disturbing the Peace

The City ★★★★ – Israel's Incubator Theatre makes its Edinburgh debut at Shalom - just three years after protests prevented it from being part of the Festival Fringe

One highlight of the International Shalom Festival is the return to Edinburgh of Jerusalem's Incubator Theatre with their hip-hop opera The City, a clever homage to all those private dicks who walk the mean streets of the city trying to solve crime. The City is entirely written in rhyme, combining rap, hip-hop and spoken word to tell a tale of vanity, lust and murder. This is the company targeted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators in 2014, which meant they were unable to perform at the Fringe. So it's all the more exciting and gratifying that they are at last making their proper Edinburgh debut. When JR's Arts Editor Judi Herman saw The City at JW3, London, where it played three sold-out performances in the aftermath of the Edinburgh protests, she was inspired to write the following four-star review in rhyme.

I’m telling you, friends, get down to The City,

A fast-moving show that’s mighty witty.

Israelis rap in English rhyme,

A dark twisted story of a web of crime.

A private dick, just an ordinary Joe,

Meets a mystery blonde and goes with the flow.

If you can get a ticket, you will too,

It’s a sparky performance from a versatile crew.

A band and beatbox, shared imagination,

The City never gets lost in translation…

The City runs Tuesday 8 – Thursday 10 August. 11.30am, 4pm, 8pm (Tue & Wed only). £12.50, £9.50 concs, £8 NUS. Drummond Community High School, Edinburgh, EH7 4BS. www.edfringe.com


Disturbing the Peace ★★★★ – Searing testimony from fighters for co-existence in Israel/Palestine

Some fine thought-provoking feature and documentary films are part of the entertainment and dialogue at the Shalom Festival, with filmmakers and activists involved in that discussion between Israelis and Palestinians taking part in post-show discussions and Q&As.

One in particular is the documentary Disturbing the Peace, from directors Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young. The film follows an activist group called Combatants for Peace and tells the story of these former enemies – Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison – who have decided to join forces in order to work towards a peaceful resolution and to stand up for what they believe in. The two screenings of Disturbing the Peace will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session.

Disturbing the Peace runs Wednesday 9 & Thursday 10 August. 3.30pm (Wed), 1.30pm (Thu). Free. Drummond Community High School, Edinburgh, EH7 4BS. www.shalomfestival.org

Judi Herman saw Disturbing the Peace at the 2016 UK Jewish Film Festival and you can read her four-star review below:


Click here to find out what else is going on at Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Review: Disturbing the Peace ★★★★ - Searing testimony from fighters for co-existence in Israel/Palestine

film_disturbing-the-peace More reviews from the 20th UK International Jewish Film Festival. This time looking at two films from Israel giving insights into Arab/Israeli relations, starting with Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young's documentary, Disturbing the Peace.

For a searing insight into the wounds inflicted on both sides by the situation and into a group that has earned the right to work towards trying to heal them, I urge you to see this hard-hitting documentary. Even-handed filmmakers Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young take no prisoners and no sides. They give equal screen-time to the bravely candid members of Combatants for Peace from both the Israeli and Palestinian communities who speak directly to camera to tell their stories, backed up by documentary footage and reconstructions, as well as tense actuality of unfolding events.

These men and women really have earned the right to fight for peace and co-existence over the ten years since they were established. There’s the Palestinian woman who kissed her little daughter goodbye, explaining that she would not see her again as she intended to blow herself up. Apprehended and in an Israeli prison, it’s the humanity of her female jailers that helps her to listen to the narrative of the other. Another Palestinian activist, a man this time, learns to understand the other literally as well, as he learns Hebrew in prison. And equally, it’s impossible not to hear the narrative of both ‘sides’ as the film reveals the sort of punitive action that makes men and women come to the conclusion that taking such desperate action is the only way – houses demolished leaving weeping families on the street, a younger pre-teen brother gunned down for trying to go 50 yards down the street to a cousin’s house during a punishingly early curfew. I am reminded of the coming together of bereaved family members from both communities in the Bereaved Families Forum, who also speak of listening to the narrative of the other.

For every bit of footage showing desperate Jews trying to get to Palestine or emaciated bodies in the camps, there’s equally shocking footage of the bodies left behind after the massacres in Sabra and Shatila. As one of the combatants (and tellingly I cannot remember from which community) says “Blood is blood – it doesn’t have two colours” – and another “Every act of violence causes pain”. The plangent beauty of oud music on the soundtrack makes these scenes and statements all the more poignant.

It’s heartening and moving to see Israeli members of Combatants for Peace, who present at first as 'hardened' soldiers from elite units, taking blankets to Palestinian families whose houses have been demolished. Equally though, it is worrying to see the military presence (and the tension that engenders) that accompanies their peaceful rallies, almost reminiscent of 1960s hippies or the Greenham Common women, though these Combatants for Peace have experienced pain and violence at first hand. One of the most telling images in the film is a mock tomb with the message “We don’t want you here” carved on it. For me that says it all.

By Judi Herman

Disturbing the Peace screens on Tuesday 15 November, 6.30pm, at Odeon Swiss Cottage, NW3 5EL.