Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 00:03
Photo courtesy of www.scribblers.us
Said tells her story to students at the Williams Center for the Arts.
Najla Said, according to her bio, “was born and raised in a privileged environment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.” Her father was Edward Said, a professor at Columbia University who was a prominent advocate for Palestinian independence.
Said tried very hard to exonerate herself from her upbringing and to persuade her audience that she was, at heart, just another Palestinian suffering in the Middle East, while instead simply convincing us that she was the epitome of a jaded expatriate.
A large chunk of Palestine, Said’s one-woman show, is devoted to the summer when Said and her family returned to the Middle East for the first time in several years. However, Said managed to mar these relatively interesting anecdotes with more complaints about how she was “so bored!” and just wanted to “find boys and cigarettes.”
She complained about the food, she complained about waiting to go through security lines, she complained about not being able to go to the beach.
When Said and her family traveled to Gaza, they were abruptly immersed in a world where the streets ran with sewage and people almost literally lived on top of each other, crammed into homes in underdeveloped neighborhoods. Said stood outside in an outfit whose retail value could probably feed the entire country, and finally came to a revelation.
“It was then that I realized I had absolutely no idea about anything,” she said to the audience, casting an attempt at a forlorn look at the ceiling.
I could have told her that forty-five minutes ago.
In lieu of her conclusion, Said recounted how she wanted to “suffer for Palestine!” and used starvation as a vehicle for this suffering. She lamented not being able to be in Palestine, commiserating with her people. “Why can’t I just be NORMAL?” she whined loudly.
It seemed that her main purpose was simply to tell people about how rich and spoiled she is.
As the story of her family’s trip to the Middle East ended, Said exclaimed to us, “At least this trip was over… New York has never smelled or looked so good to me.” She could have at least pretended, for her now thoroughly irritated audience’s sake, that she had derived some moral lesson from something.
Said was unable to separate herself from her privileged life that she halfheartedly tries to exonerate herself from, while instead constantly flaunting. Perhaps her show would fare better with a competent actor at its helm, or at least one who could demonstrate a range of emotions outside of “annoying.”
Needless to say, for the sake of Palestine (the country’s) reputation and the maintenance of reputable knowledge about the Middle East and its history, I hope this show withers and dies before its influence spreads too far.