Holocaust Memorial Day, ‘Perdition’, and the shame of the Scottish PSC

January 27, 2007 at 7:26 pm (Uncategorized)

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. The Scottish Palestininan Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) are marking the occasion by staging readings in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, of the late Jim Allen’s play ‘Perdition‘.

The SPSC have advertised their readings thus: “Jim Allen’s acclaimed play Perdition: a devastating work which reveals the extent of of the collaboration between the victims and the perpetrators of the Holocaust in Hungary towards the end of the ‘Final Solution’ has been hounded and suppressed for for over 20 years”.

Well, the SPSC are simply wrong about the play having been “hounded and suppressed for over 20 years”: although it was cancelled at the (London) Royal Court Theatre before its first scheduled performance in 1987, it was performed in Edinburgh later that year; in 1999 a “significantly rewritten version” (Allen participated in the re-writing) was performed by the Gate Theatre, London; In 2004, it was again performed in Edinburgh.

So this play has not been “hounded and suppressed for over 20 years”. So why are the SPSC so keen to promote the idea that it has been?

Maybe because the play is an avowedly “anti Zionist” work, and -as we all know – the international Zionist conspiracy not only controls the foreign policies of the USA and the UK , but it also controls the media and the arts, and will suppress any anti-Zionist journalism, academic research or art as when it pleases. Actually, the fact that the Zionist illuminati have allowed the showing of Allen’s “devastating” work is merely proof of their fiendish cunning: they realised that outright suppression of the play would be counter-productive, and expose the extent of their power and influence; so better to allow it to be performed occassionally, whilst continuing to denounce and vilify it (OK: I got carried away in that paragraph: to the best of my knowledge, no-one from the SPSC has put forward such an argument; but such is their “anti Zionist” hysteria and hatred that you can well imagine them coming out with that sort of argument. And, anyway, it’s as good an argument as any to explain the failure of the all-powerful “Zionist Lobby” to suppress Allen’s play).

What, then, does this “devastating” play depict? It is based upon a real-life libel case that took place in Israel in the 1950’s, in which Rudolph Kastner, a Zionist leader in Hungary during WW2, had been accused by another Zionist, Malchiel Grunwald, of collaboration with the Nazis. Note that Grunwald, the accusor, was himself a Zionist – a point conveniently omitted from Allen’s play, presumably because to acknowledge that fact would be to fatally undermine the central thesis of the play.

Allen himself said the play was “the most lethal attack on Zionism ever written, because it touches at the heart of the most abiding myth of modern history, the Holocaust. Because it says quite plainly that privileged Jewish leaders collaborated in the extermination of their own kind in order to help bring about a Zionist state, Israel, a state which is itself racist”.

This ignorant, ahistoric theme derives from Stalinist anti-semitism of the 1960’s, and can also be found in the writings of Lenni Brenner and Norman Finkelstein. At one level, it is not surprising that Allen, a leftist who gained his political education in the 1960’s, was infected by Stalinist anti-semitism (even though his own political allegiance was to Gerry Healy’s nominally “Trotskyist” SLL); but even so, was it really necessary for him to pepper the play with such blatant anti-semitic imagary as “all-poweful American Jewery”, “Jews in fur-lined bunkers hurling money” and references to Golgotha and the crucifixion?

When the play was first due to appear at the Royal Court (and the script published), the historian Martin Gilbert (not known for Zionist sympathies) identified 60 factual inaccuracies. And the fact that in 1999 Allen himself agreed to have the play “significantly rewritten”, suggests that the original version was far from the incisive critique of Zionism that Allen and his supporters had claimed it to be. Apparently, the re-written version has excised some of the worst overt anti-semitic language. But the anti-semitic theme remains. The fact that the SPSC are performing readings from this disreputable, misguided little play, is a scandal and a disgrace.

It’s also, as a matter of fact, a sad memorial to Jim Allen, who at his best (eg: “Days of Hope“) was a magnificent socialist playwright and (especially), screen-writer. I prefer to forget about his miserable anti-semitic error. But the SPSC clearly want to glory in it, to bait Jews and sneer at Holocaust Memorial Day.

NB: Much of the material, and all the quotes, for the above, come from Stan Crooke’s article ‘Not the way to mark Holocaust Memorial Day’ in the present issue of the AWL’s ‘Solidarity’ paper, and the slightly longer piece by Crooke here.

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