Newspeak Caryl Churchill’s 7 Jewish Children is anti-Semitic
|an anti-Semitic poster|
or obscure the truth of something. For
example the term ‘collateral damage’ is used to minimise the deliberate murder of
civilians, when bombing civilian areas, by describing them as ‘collateral’ or incidental to the war itself.
The term ‘peace keeping’ is another favourite for the waging of
war. The renaming of the Ministry of War
as the Ministry of Defence is yet another example of the phenomenon of using
language to invert the meaning of something.
It is close allied to Orwell’s concept of double think, the ability to
hold two mutually exclusive ideas at the same time inside one’s head.
|Caryl Churchill – author of 7 Jewish Children|
mouthpieces, not least the BBC have waged a campaign to persuade people that
opposition to racism in Israel is in fact the same thing as anti-Jewish racism
(anti-Semitism). Who would know, because it is never reported in the mass media, that over half Israel’s population wish to expel Israel’s Palestinian citizens (never mind the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza).
Over the summer there were attempts to smear
Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, when it became clear that he was likely to
become leader of the Labour Party. This campaign was led by the
right-wing former editor of the Daily Express and current editor of the Jewish
Chronicle, Stephen Pollard. Ironically it was not so long ago that
Pollard was defending the anti-Semitic Polish MEP Michal Kaminski and the even
more virulently anti-Semitic Latvian MEP Robert Zile on the grounds that
whatever their views about Jews they were both devoted supporters of
Israel. [See Pollard’s article in The Guardian, 9.10.09. Poland’s Kaminski is not an antisemite: he’s a
friend to Jews, and also ‘The Hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn’s Accusers – Stephen
Pollard Jewish Chronicle Editor & Apologist for Europe’s anti-Semitic
the Polish Zionist & anti-Semite that Jewish Chronicle Editor Stephen
Pollard Just Loves]
|Photo of an injured child – comparing this to Jewish suffering is ‘anti-Semitic’|
In recent weeks there has been a vigorous and
determined campaign by sections of the media and right-wing Labour MPs such as
John Mann and Louise Ellman to portray supporters of the Palestinians and
opponents of Zionism as anti-Semitic.
This has reached ludicrous heights with the attempt to portray the Palestine
society at York University as ‘anti-Semitic’ for daring to show the play 7 Jewish
Children by Caryl Churchil. The play,
which is on the Guardian website is a sensitive and quite brilliant attempt to relate, through adults discussing
what to tell and what not to tell 7 Jewish children, at different periods of
time. The concern of the adults is both
to inform and not to frighten and the phrases ‘tell her’ and ‘don’t tell her’
are repeated throughout the play. The last line in the play is ‘don’t frighten her’. The time periods change from hiding a Jewish child
in an unnamed ghetto under Nazi occupation, to the murder of her relatives by
the Nazis, to the immigration to the State of Israel by a Jewish family in post-holocaust Europe to their coming to terms with Arabs in Israel and an increasingly hardline, racist attitude to the Arabs who live there.
|Criticising Israeli bombing and the murder of children is ‘anti-Semitic’|
explain the expulsion of the Arabs from Israel.
The death of Rachel Corrie explained by ‘Don’t tell her not to look at
the bulldozer, Don’t tell her it was knocking the house down’. The attacks on Gaza are dealt with by through
not informing her ‘Don’t tell her about the family of dead girls’ and then immediately contradicting itself ‘Tell
her we killed the babies by mistake’ ‘Tell
her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why not,’ and then the
final Zionist rationale ‘Tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies? tell
her she’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell
her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make
people sorry for them.’
|Comparing this to Jewish suffering is ‘anti-semitic’|
That is indeed what the Zionists
say as some form of rationalisation for their crimes. They are ‘forced’ to kill
Palestinian children. It has disturbing
echoes of similar Nazi justifications.
They too were ‘forced’ to kill Jewish children. It was Golda Meir who
once said that
‘We can forgive the Arabs for
killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their
children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children
more than they hate us.” (although Harvey Rachlin in Ha’aretz has searched in vain for any evidence that
she actually said it!).
time of Operation Cast Lead when over 1,400 Palestinians were killed in Gaza by
Israel’s war criminals, hundreds of whom were children.
|Howard Jacobson – sees anti-Semitism everywhere
that it is ‘pure Jew hatred’ it is strange that they are unable to produce even one
quote from the play that would back up their assertions. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that
the associations between the Jewish experience of suffering in the second
world war and the Palestinians experience of suffering is too close for
article which one has come to expect in the Jewish Chronicle and beneath it is
a response from 6 Jewish and Israeli supporters of the play at York University. I have also included the dialogue in the play itself so you can judge whether it is anti-Semitic or not.
Jewish Chronicle Reporter,
February 25, 2016
pro-Palestinian student group co-run by the son of Labour Party leader Jeremy
Corbyn, has performed a play widely described as antisemitic as part of Israel
University’s student Palestinian Solidarity Society staged two productions of
“Seven Jewish Children – A Play for Palestine” on Thursday afternoon.
Corbyn, who is studying electrical engineering at York, is the society’s events
play, written by Caryl Churchill as a response to an Israeli attack on Gaza,
was first performed in 2009. In seven short scenes, totalling only 10 minutes,
it examines modern Jewish history.
JC’s theatre critic described the work as antisemitic, highlighting a moment
when one Jewish character appears to be glorifying in Palestinian suffering.
Howard Jacobson described it as “Jew-hating, pure and simple”.
play at York was a joint production by the Palestinian Solidarity Society and
another group, the Antigone Collective.
supporters issued flyers opposing the production, asking if York University
“supports antisemitic culture”.
a statement, the university Jewish Society condemned the staging.
society added that in rejecting opposition to the event, York students’ union
had showed a lack of concern about antisemitism on campus.
staging was one of a series of events mounted by students across the country as
part of the annual anti-Israel campaign at universities. Other activities
included stunts such as the construction of mock Israeli military checkpoints
and talks by anti-Israel propagandists backing an academic boycott of the
students have responded by mounting an initiative under the title “Building
Bridges” designed to promote dialogue about Israel’s positive role in the
to the JC article , the Jewish members of the York Palestine Solidarity Society
have released this statement
whom it may concern,
are Jews and Israelis who work and study in York. Some of us were in the
audience for the recent performance of Caryl Churchill’s ten minute play Seven
Jewish Children at the University of York; others were involved in its
production and acted in it. All of us are committed to seeing a just peace in
Israel and Palestine.
of us have only attended Palestinian Solidarity Society events, others are
ordinary members and committee members of this university society. It is clear
to us that the society is committed to fighting racism and prejudice in all its
guises, in particular intolerance of Palestinians in Israel, as well as
Palestinian prejudice against Jews. One audience member, Dr. Lisa Peschel, a
lecturer in York’s theatre department who conducts research on Jewish ghetto
theatre, said, “This play does not claim to be a balanced and objective look at
the entire range of Israeli political opinions, but it accurately represents
certain voices in Israeli politics while acknowledging Jewish suffering as
well. It addresses a humanitarian crisis that urgently needs to be discussed.”
Israelis and Jews, some of us have personal experiences of being labelled
antisemitic because we have expressed criticism of the abusive and intolerant
attitudes of many Israelis, or of Israeli policies, towards the Palestinian
people. Our support of an occupied, oppressed people is often mistakenly
perceived, particularly by those Jews who identify as Zionist, as anti-Semitic
equate criticism of Zionism with anti-Semitism is not only dishonest, it also
has an adverse effect for those Jews who do suffer actual intolerant,
anti-Semitic abuse which should be taken seriously. Moreover, this misplaced
accusation calls into question our own Jewishness, which we find an offensive
we would like to make it clear that Tommy Corbyn, son of the leader of the
Labour Party, had nothing to do with organising, producing or even promoting
7 Jewish Children
if she hears shouting
if she hears nothing for a long time
away if she keeps still
of her grandmother, her uncles and me
people who hate Jews
or not Jews
born and she’s not in danger
question of danger.
family all love her
be proud of her.
friends, tell her her friends can maybe
great lots of greats grandad lived there
tell her everyone was driven out and
to come home
it here but she’ll like it there even more.
all her toys
desert and dates
tell her they’re going away
live in this house
great great grandfather used to live in this house
used to sleep in her bedroom.
with the children
them in the house.
friends and family
all round they have lands of their own
was a land without people
come if I’d known.
about the swimming pool
have the right
for their fields
the house down
queues at the checkpoint
farms in the desert
towns in the wilderness.
bombs in cafés
off bombs in cafés
keep us safe
into the sea
into the sea.
anything except violence
and watch Friends.
refused to serve in the army.
them have been killed
have been killed
family of dead girls
what you see on television
army, tell her to be proud of the army.
dead girls, tell her their names why not,
why shouldn’t she know?
did she see babies?
be ashamed of.
children killed to make people sorry for them,
them, tell her not to be sorry for them,
now, tell her it’s the fog of war,
them till we’re safe,
the dead policemen,
in rubble now,
wiped them out,
world hates us,
tell her we’re chosen people,
their children covered in blood and what do I feel?
it’s not her.
Gaza in January
Jewish Children first published in
Great Britain in 2009 by
Larden Road, London, W3 7ST,
Court Theatre, London
Jewish Children copyright © 2009
Caryl Churchill Limited
her moral right to be identified as the author of this work
Jewish Children was first
performed at the Royal Court