Who’s really scared of listening to new voices?

The play about Jewish identity and Palestinian rights, Seven Jewish Children, premiered overseas recently to great acclaim (and the usual complaints by the Zionist lobby).

It’s coming to Melbourne in a few week’s time and how does the Jewish establishment react? From today’s Age:

A play that has been condemned by Jewish groups and some theatre critics as anti-Semitic will this month be performed at the State Library of Victoria.

The cast of the eight-minute Seven Jewish Children, by English playwright Caryl Churchill, includes Sydney-based Anglo-Jewish actor Miriam Margolyes and Max Gillies, husband of high-profile Melbourne Jewish identity Louise Adler.

It will be presented in a rehearsed reading on Monday, May 18, at 6.30pm by the lobby group Australians for Palestine.

The play has garnered praise from theatre critics in Britain, but was condemned by Christopher Hart in The Sunday Times (“ludicrous”) and the Spectator’s Melanie Phillips (“an open vilification of the Jewish people ”¦ sickening and dreadful beyond measure”).

Even before the play has had its Australian debut, that response has been echoed in Melbourne.

Jeremy Jones, of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said he had not read the play but was well aware of it. “Most of the people who you would take seriously on the question of racial vilification have labelled it anti-Semitic,” he said.

“At the very least it is something that so greatly distorts the subject that it does the exact opposite of what great art does, which is to shed light on a topic.” According to Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria, the play portrays “the complete antithesis of Israel”.

“This play is simply another propaganda attempt to delegitimise the Jewish nation and to perpetuate the same lies that are continually played out in the media.”

Seven Jewish Children consists of seven short movements about crucial stages in the history of Israel: the Holocaust, the aftermath of war, the settlement of Israel in 1948, the displacement of the Arabs, the Six-Day War, the Intifada and the war in Gaza, which began in December 2008.

I support our colleagues Australians for Palestine for organising this important event. If only the Zionist lobby realised how their carping looked to the wider community. Their obsession with “anti-Semitism” actually portrays Jews as eternal victims.

They are not. Israel is facing a growing international campaign of isolation due to its atrocities in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel proper.

Crying about “anti-Semitism” will not stop this movement.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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