Back in 1969, in the wake of a contentious, racially charged teachers strike in NY City, a white, Italian-American chorus teacher staged a mostly African-American production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at a middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. This teacher had to contend with opposition both from the local community and from the mostly Jewish teachers and administration in the school. Ultimately, much of the school community, and many of the students and parents, recognized that “Fiddler” speaks to the shared experience of all people who have been oppressed.
I am continually struck by the sad and painful irony of the oppressed people of Anatevka turning into the oppressors of the Nakba. The parallels of expulsions, violence and demolitions foisted on an innocent population are so close that one can perhaps envision a (slightly edited) Palestinian version of “Fiddler on the Roof” speaking to the shared experience of Palestinians and Jews. “Black Fiddler” (as the teacher, Richard Piro’s, book about the experience was entitled), probably touched not many more than the few people who saw it (though it did warrant a “60 minutes” spot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF43E3JvfZM, and a longer documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEt-TVCRdDc). Would a “Palestinian Fiddler” reach at least some people of conscience with the shock of recognition of our common history of catastrophe, and jolt at least some of the oppressors into seeing themselves as the oppressed?