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  April 1, 1998  
- We need to work out a kind of art that breaks down stereotypes, says the Palestinian novelist and short story writer Izzat Ghazzawi.

Ghazzawi believes that the two religious extremes in Israel and Palestine are incapable of outlining the future, since the fundamentalist forces threaten the very existence of the people.

Izzat Ghazzawi remembers when he was invited to Jerusalem in 1992, invited by the Swedish consul to meet Israeli writers. He was rather apprehensive.

Well, nothing extraordinary happened at the meeting, but he says it was a turning point for himself. After that he could see Israelis as potential partners in the building of the future. According to Izzat Ghazzawi this means expressing equality amongst Israelis and Palestinians in all walks of life.

Born and raised on the West Bank

In 1948 Mr. Ghazzawi's family fled to the West bank. Three years later Izzat was born into the already large family consisting of his mother and father and ten brothers and sisters.

At the age of 13, Izzat Ghazzawi wrote his first play. It was a short play about a loaf of bread that was rolling in the streets. Everybody tried to catch it but nobody succeeded.

- You can't choose to become a writer it is a feeling inside yourself, he says.

In 1971 Ghazzawi graduated from the University of Amman with an MA degree in English Literature and he lectures at Beirut University.

Imprisoned for political activity

For more than two years (February -89 to May -91) Ghazzawi was in prison because of political activity.

-This is so far the hardest time in my life. I missed my family so much (Izzat Ghazzawi has a wife and six children who live in Rammalla, 16 kilometers west of Jerusalem) and I only got to meet them for 30 minutes every other week. I was only allowed to see two of my kids at a time. It was a sort of torture, I think.

In prison Izzat wrote a book, "Letter Underway." Ghazzawi describes it as an open text. Poems, imaginary talks with authors he knew only by their writings and his own political views on the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The death of Ramy

One of Izzat Ghazzawi«s sons Ramy, 16, was killed when he tried to save a wounded person in the school courtyard.

- Of course this has affected my writing. I want to write a book about him, but I can't at the moment. The person inside me who is a father is too close to the other person inside me, the writer. When they are able to coexist. when it affects the so-called mechanisms of being a father and an artist, it will be my best book, says Ghazzawi without hesitation.

Roots and history

The visit to Stockholm is Mr. Ghazzawis first visit to Sweden. He has already been to Norway. In 1995 he received the International Price for Freedom of expression in Stavanger.

His new novel "Abdullah At-Tilali" will come out shortly in English. It is about a poet who is haunted by the regime he criticizes. The antagonist is sent from one prison to another and finally he makes the decision to flee the country. He feels more secure then, but still can't get away from the feeling of alienation, cut of from his roots and history, moreover as a citizen of a new country.

Culture is the only medium which can dig out all the sources of such a society, in the ancient roots as well as in the existing life, concludes Izzat Ghazzawi.


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