Exploring the cycle of violence

«The cycle of violence will come to an end only if we first understand what it is that provokes it.» For the past week, I have been carrying around with me the book «Death is a Gift,» the story of a Palestinian who wanted to be a suicide bomber (available in Greek from Sokoli publications). It is told through the eyes of the young journalist and film director Raid Sabbah. It is a fascinating book whose theatrical adaptation is currently being staged by director Aris Troupakis. It was on this occasion that Kathimerini spoke to the author about his book. What made you decide to write this particular book? I began writing «Death is a Gift» a few days after the September 11 attacks. The idea came to me when I saw the photographs of a group of cheering Palestinians. It was quite obvious that the press was trying to associate the Palestinian suicide bombers with September 11. What seemed to me more important than anything else was to find out the reasons that lead somebody to blow both himself up and kill other people. I wanted to shed light on darkness. We refer to those people as terrorists but we ignore everything about their origins and upbringing. Could you tell me something more about your meeting with Said, the Palestinian would-be suicide bomber? My research developed over a period of extreme tension between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the region of Jenin, north of the West Bank. Once I succeeded in obtaining a permit from the Jihad-al-Islami, I met Said every night outside the refugee camp in which he lived. When we sat together, we felt like two Palestinians of the same age meeting one another. How does one come to the decision to be a suicide bomber? Most of us believe that those people are fanatics. Demonizing them is easy. However, the reality is different. Said and others who decide to make a suicide attack are led to that decision by very personal reasons born of their life circumstances. I would say that the occupation is the disease and the suicide attack the symptom. What are your dreams and future plans as a journalist and also as a director? I am a political author with the ambition of shedding light on injustice. My family comes from Jenin in the West Bank. I was born and raised in Germany, where I studied philosophy, literature and film directing. Before writing the book, I worked as a TV journalist. I am currently preparing three films and the film adaptation of «Death is a Gift.» There are also some upcoming plans for theater plays that will be presented in Austria and Germany. «Death is a Gift,» by Raid Sabbah, at the Metaxourgeio Theater (14 Academou, Metaxourgeio, tel 210 523.4382). It is being staged Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9 p. m.