There have been numerous interviews where I have felt like there was so much more we could have talked about and that my final edit barely covered that person's amazing life story.
Then I have to remind myself that it's impossible to cover a person's whole life story in a 30-40 minute podcast, and that isn't, at the end of the day, my goal here. It's a reminder of the importance of having a few themes which allow me to identify what's important and to mainntain a few parameters that suggest a structure, rather than having a scattergun approach where you try and catch as much of everything as you can. But of course, there's always a balance between staying consistent with your themes and finding the uniqueness of each person's story. Then also finding something universal within those unique points.
All this is to set the scene to talk about my recent interview with Adel, whose life story had so many interesting aspects that it was hard to fully do them all justice, but I thought I'd explain my eventual approach to editing as well as a few observations.
First of all, there are many aspects of Adel's story that are dark - the bullying of his father, the destruction of ancestral Palestinian lands and his own direct experiences of seeing the evidence of the Occupation, and his own harrowing experiences at school in Birmingham, England. But, as Adel acknowledges, there were also moments of good fortune that lead him to be where he is now. In our conversation, there were also a fair share of lighter, humorous moments, which nevertheless fitted in with some of the broader narratives of Adel's life.
So the challenge was to balance all these elements to try and recount a narrative that was both authentic and also showed the different aspects of Adel's experiences. He was very keen to stress to me that he didn't want it to be a refugee-made-good sob story, which I wholeheartedly agree with as a I do try to steer clear of clichees.
Although I mention it being a "challenge" , it was a good challenge, as Adel gave me a wealth of material through being such an articulate and engaging storyteller.
As Adel mentions in our conversation, one of the big problems for the Palestinians has been the ability to get their narrative out, with the pro-Israeli narrative remaining still largely predominant in much of western media. The ability to tell you story, as indeed we see in the Ukraine now, is so important, as putting a human face on a suffering people builds empathy even from those far away.
Of course, there is so much more to Adel's story than just the Palestinian side of things, and as I may have said before, my aim with doing personal stories like this is to both allow people to better identify understand people who may have a very different background to themselves, and through this gain a better understanding of the factors that make them who they are. In Adel's case there are multiple factors from his parents' background, his upbringing in Iraq, school in England, and then the first Gulf War which would eventually lead to his transfer to Australia...and the story continues beyond that of course, but I don't want to spoil it for you by giving the whole story here !
It is perhaps not for me to comment in depth upon the hows and whys of the situation in Israel and Palestine, but I would strongly urge people to inform themselves beyond the mainstream narratives, listen to actual Palestinians about their first-hand experiences of life under the Occupation. I've linked to a short documentary below as a good place to start for those who are interested : My Neighbourhood: a Palestinian boy's view of Israeli settlements - video | World news | The Guardian
And of course, listen to the interview with Adel above, if you haven't done so already !
For an alternative, I also did an interview with Nicolas, who was born in Palestine but grew up in Chile before returning to his family's village in Palestine as an adult for a time and experiencing some of the difficult realities of the Occupation.