Monday, March 30, 2009

Theater J in Washington, DC - Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy?

We have previously written about the Caryl Churchill play, "Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza" and have discussed its anti-Semitic undertone. We complained about its appearance at the New York Theatre Workshop. As feared, the play is now making its rounds, including a stop at Theater J of the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center.

It's one thing when a play such as this is performed at a public theatre, but when it's performed at a venue sponsored by the community that it attacks, where are we headed.

The director of Theater J, Ari Roth, is on record as having said he knows people would be offended by the play and that he was "upset" by it. Yet he appears to have bent over backwards to produce the play by adding two other plays to deaden the impact of Seven Jewish Children, by arranging for friendly posts on the theater's blog, and communicating with the play's author.

I think it's ludicrous for a Jewish, albeit nominally, theater to present a play that brings a message equating Israelis with the worst of mankind. Here is the letter sent to Mr. Roth:

"March 29, 2009

Mr. Ari Roth, Artistic Director
Theater J, Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center
1529 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Re Production of Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza

Dear Mr. Roth:

I am the father of Alisa Flatow a 20-year old woman murdered in 1995 by Palestinian terrorists who were raised since childhood on a never ending stream of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda to hate Israelis and Jews. By presenting “Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza” at Theater J, you have added another propaganda log to the bonfire of hatred that has been stoked by the Arab world since 1948.

Anti-Semitism has taken on a new face. It is masked by anti-Zionism. In other words, “we love the Jews, but hate what the State of Israel has done to the Palestinians.” Mr. Roth, in the former, its proponents shout “Jews to the ovens” as they did in Florida this past January. In the latter, they de-legitimatize the Jews’ 2,000-year old quest for a state of their own. In the end, there is no difference between the two because both seek the destruction of the Jewish people. Yet the latter is worse, because it hides under the mask of the theater arts. You have helped nourish hatred.

You reportedly said "people have a right to be offended, and I respect those who have read the play and are offended" and, that the script upset you. Unfortunately, you were not upset enough to decline production of the play and your silly attempt at balancing it with two other plays makes you the laughingstock of anti-Semites around the world because you have literally given them a stage from which to speak.

I believe in general that everyone has the right to make a fool of himself. You have done that here, but there is nothing to laugh about."

When will such foolishness--the desire to be open to all thoughts even those inimical to your own interests--be put to bed?

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