In 2009 some Jewish Australian Zionist organisations complained and demanded action over a performance of the play Seven Jewish Children claiming it was anti-Semitic and should not happen. Thankfully they were ignored and the performance went ahead to great success. It’s called freedom of expression in a democracy.
One year later, I’ve now been informed that the Zionist lobby in Western Australia is once again out in force, demanding this “anti-Semitic” play be stopped:
The Town of Vincent is embroiled in a racism storm over its decision to allow a play about the history of Israel to be presented at a town hall, despite the production being branded anti-Semitic by Perth’s Jewish leaders.
Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza is a 10-minute, six-page play by British playwright Caryl Churchill covering events over 70 years such as the Holocaust, Palestinian suicide attacks and the 2008 Gaza invasion.
Throughout the play Jewish adults discuss what, if anything, their children should be told of the events.
Plans by Friends of Palestine WA to have a reading at the North Perth Town Hall this Saturday have been attacked by the Jewish Community Council of WA, which is petitioning the local council to cancel the booking.
Council president Tony Tate, who yesterday admitted he had not read the play, said it was offensive and in parts based on the libel that Jewish people killed children in order to use their blood for religious rituals.
Mr Tate said it was “not a way to start a conversation about peace in the Middle East”.
But Friends of Palestine WA convenor Alex Whisson and director Vivienne Glance disagreed the play was racially vilifying, saying attempts to block the play were an attack on free speech and artistic liberty.
A previous attempt by Amnesty International to stage the play was knocked back by Perth arts group Kulcha, which yesterday declined to comment.
Town of Vincent chief executive John Giorgi, who said he had received threatening phone calls over the matter, said the production met booking requirements and it was not the role of local government to act as a censor.
He said that after an “incorrect cancellation” he reinstated the booking last month with conditions for security – based on the strong likelihood of protests – and banning any political banners.
Arts Minister John Day said it was not appropriate to prevent the play being performed unless any laws were being breached.
Shadow arts minister and Perth MLA John Hyde said if anyone believed a public work incited racial hatred they should make a complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
Mr Tate said a petition with about 600 signatures would be presented to the council at its meeting tonight.