Monday, May 25, 2009

Seven Jewish Children

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to witness a performance of the controversial new play Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill, produced at a local Unitarian Universalist Church on Morewood Ave. I found it to be a genuinely moving performance, with excellent acting by students from the University of Pittsburgh. The play focuses on the experience of Jewish children ranging from the time of the Holocaust to current day Israel.

Some people have tried to interpret this play as anti-Semitic, claiming that a line referring to blood on children is a throw-back to the old blood libel. Having seen this play myself, I can definitively say this allegation is not true. Those who interpret the play this way have either never seen it, or have deliberately misconstrued it.

The latter interpretation is suggested by the reaction of one woman in a discussion group after the performance. She ranted that the play was biased, "anti-Israeli propaganda." She saw anti-Semitism largely because she was looking for it from the beginning. Her attitude brought to mind the woman in a pre-play discussion who argued that Israel could solve the issue of Palestinian population growth by means of mandatory birth control. Such people are not to be taken seriously.

In all, I highly recommend that anyone who has the chance should see this play.


Stephen M. Flatow said...

I believe you miss an important point. The play masks its anti-Semitism with its anti-Zionism. In other words, the play is an argument against the existence of the state of Israel. That is the same thing as anti-Semitism.
Where is Churchill's rage over the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Darfur, Sri Lanka, or the Congo?
Churchill sees her job as the deligitimization of Israel, nothing else.

The Expatriate said...

Mr. Flatow, I believe you let your personal experiences cloud your judgment. You do not actually address anything Churchill says, but simply launch ad hominem attacks, conflating opposition to a nation's policies with opposition to its overall existence.

It is tragic that your daughter died in Israel. However, no one forced her to travel to a de facto war zone. When I travel, I make a point of avoiding regions of known conflict. For example, I did not visit the northern portion of Ireland when I traveled to that island several years ago.