An update on the fate of Jenin Freedom Theater actor, 20 year-old Rami Hwayel, abducted by the IDF several days ago. Hwayel had been set to play the role of Pozzo in a Theater production of Waiting for Godot, before he was nabbed by the army at a checkpoint on his way home to visit his family during Ramadan.
Several Israelis have contacted me with conflicting accounts of Rami’s whereabouts and whether his story could be published in Israel or whether it was under military censorship. First, Mati Shemoelof, a friend of Udi Aloni (director of Waiting for Godot) and of Freedom Theater, has just written me the following:
Rami is still being detained at Jalameh [Kishon, in Hebrew] prison. Udi’s attorney visited him there and found him in good health. It is unclear when he will be freed. Udi says that Rami only thinks of playing Pozzo in the production and isn’t prepared to abandon the role. He asked the attorney to bring him the script so he could continue practicing his lines.
There is still a conflict over whether or not the story is being censored. Rechavia Berman called the IDF, who told him there was no gag and he published Rami’s story at 972 Magazine. However, Matan Cohen says that Haaretz has submitted the story twice to the military censor and each time the story has been rejected. So go figure. In a country like Israel, where press freedom is marginal and democracy is a fleeting thought, anything is possible. The right hand may not know what the left is doing. It’s even possible the IDF doesn’t care what 972 publishes but does care that Haaretz may expose the story to a much wider audience. Who knows?
I still can’t get the image out of my mind of the theater audience sitting through an entire performance waiting for the character who never appears, Godot. Perhaps there’s a bit of irony that in this production they don’t yet know whether or not Pozzo will appear either. They’ll have to change the name to Waiting for Godot…and Pozzo.
In the meantime, please distribute this poster created thanks to Michael Levin as widely as you can.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.