Caryl Churchill, anti-semitism and stupidity

March 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm (anti-semitism, Guardian, Jim D, literature)

For a playwright, Caryl Churchill seems to have a poor grasp of the meaning of words.

In the Graun of 3 March 2011, Jonathan Freedland wrote:

“Some new cliches have arisen that act as barriers to sympathy for Jews. One is the claim that Jews brand any and all criticism of Israel as antisemitic; another is the claim that Jews “cry antisemitism” in order to silence opposition to Israel. These cliches – which are belied by the sheer volume of criticism of Israel by Israelis and Jews themselves, let alone by everyone else – have now become so durable that it is now difficult for Jews to get a hearing on antisemitism connected with the Middle East debate. And yet it is this that raises more unease than the alcohol-fuelled ravings of a washed-up Hollywood star or clothes designer.”  Read the rest here.

In today’s Graun, a letter appeared from Ms Churchill ‘answering’ an argument that Freedland had not made:

“Jonathan Freedland (G2, March 3) denies that criticism of Israel is often wrongly called antisemitism.” Read the rest here.

Ms Churchill’s inability to understand plain English, or to follow a simple argument, may also account for her failure to comprehend what the ‘blood libel’ is, and why her play Seven Jewish Children, perpetuates it. On this evidence I’d say that she’s not an anti-semite as such:  just a bit thick and ignorant.

Norm commented on the play:

Seven themes for Caryl Churchill

Being a review by me of Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children. Put on originally at the Royal Court Theatre in London, scheduled for readings by the New York Theatre Workshop, rejected for broadcasting by the BBC for impartiality reasons, given an outing in Dublin, upcoming in Austin and LA and no doubt many other centres, the play clearly deserves critical notice on this blog. You can find the text of it here [pdf]. Below is my review of that text.

1
Tell them it’s a play
Tell them it’s serious
But don’t enlighten them
Tighten them
Put some night in them.
Tell it in the voice of Jews
Tell it only in the voice of Jews
That way any bad thought will be the thought of Jews
(Like that ‘they’ don’t understand anything except violence)
And any thought ascribed to others will be ascribed by Jews
And not necessarily true
And maybe just an excuse
(Like that there are still people who hate Jews)
And any bad deed ascribed to others will be merely ascribed by Jews
(Like that ‘they’ set off bombs in cafés)
And ascribed maybe as a pretext.

2
Tell them this was the land God gave us
Tell them it was our promised land
Tell them we said it was a land without people
Tell them again that we said that
And said it wasn’t ‘their’ home.
Don’t enlighten them
Put some spite in them
By making it a story of eviction and dispossession only.
Don’t tell them of two peoples with a right to self-determination
Two peoples with a claim on justice and humanity
Don’t enlighten them.

3
Tell them that we won
Tell them that we’re fighters
Tell them we are stronger
Tell them we’re the iron fist now
Prussia of the Middle East.
Powerful Jews
Night in them, spite in them.
Don’t tell them it’s a play
Tell them it’s real.
Frighten them.

4
Powerful Jews (tell them)
And hating, racist Jews
(Tell them this too).
Tell them we think we’re the chosen people
Tell them we say that ‘they’ are animals.

5
Tell them about occupation and settlements
Do tell them about this because it’s true
Tell them about bulldozers, knocking down houses, checkpoints, olive trees
Do tell them all this.
But don’t mention the war
Whatever you do, don’t mention that the foundation of the state of Israel took place with the backing of the UN, the world community
Don’t mention that Israel’s Arab neighbours at once mobilized for its destruction
Don’t mention that they really did speak of ‘driving us into the sea’, that this is not just what we tell
Don’t mention the Hamas Charter and its promise of killing Jews and destroying Israel
Don’t mention Hizbollah, or the threats and denials of Ahmadinejad, or the growth of anti-Semitism everywhere, or the attacks on Jews, or, in certain places, the teaching of anti-Semitism.
Thank you, don’t mention it.

6
Yes, tell them it’s serious
Tell them not only hating, racist Jews
But also pitiless Jews.
Tell that we say ‘they’ want their children killed to make people feel sorry for them
And that ‘they’ can’t talk suffering to us
Tell that we think we’re the ones to be sorry for, we’re entitled
And that we wouldn’t care if we wiped them out, we’re just happy it’s not us.
Execute the reversal beloved of every spewing Jew-hater from his pit, and by every anti-Zionist who can shit
Tell them the Shoah is mere pretext now
Exploited to claim entitlement
Entitlement to inflict suffering upon others
Tell them it, tell them.

7
Tell them finally (shrinking not even from this,
Ancient libel from before the Holocaust was text let alone pretext)
That Jews kill babies, girls, boys
Tell them we say ‘they’ want their children killed
Tell them that Jews look at one of ‘their’ children and ask ‘what do I feel?’
And say ‘happy it’s not her’.
Tell them this
And tell them it’s a play
No, don’t tell them it’s a play
Tell them it’s serious, deadly serious
Don’t enlighten them
Exciten them
Whiten them
Hate in them.

178 Comments

  1. skidmarx said,

    More stupidity from Norm here.

    The whole anti-semitic tropes thing seems to be extended from actual stereotypes to any negative description or use of adjectives applied to the Israeli state and its agents. AS Caryl Churchill notes “When people hear of babies killed in a war, they don’t usually think of medieval accusations of Jews consuming Christian children’s blood, but of babies killed in a war.”
    If the IDF doesn’t want anyone writing plays that refer to dead babies in Gaza, not killing Palestinian kids might be a good way to go.
    Of course JIm, with his simple equation Opposition to State of Israel = Racism doesn’t need to go through the circumlocution of rope-a-tropes to declare illegitimate any support or sympathy for the Palestinian national struggle.

  2. Sarah AB said,

    Although I’m essentially on the Norm/Freedland/Shiraz ‘side’ on this one, I don’t see evidence that CC does not understand what the blood libel is.

  3. Sarah AB said,

    And, I think, in fact, that Caryl Churchill’s point, which skidmarx quotes, has to be engaged with. There is a case to be made that the play taps into the blood libel, but it’s quite a delicate and subtle point – and as Freedland points out in some ways it’s these more subtle examples (and please note a text might tap into a trope even though the author doesn’t intend that) which can be most problematic.

  4. SteveH said,

    If Freeland didn’t build up one straw man after another we may take him seriously. But he did and we can’t.

  5. Rosie said,

    I thought that Freedland’s article was pretty good, but that blood libel thing is far-fetched. It’s not common knowledge. I’ve heard of it from reading medieval texts, and if you studied the history of Christian anti-semitism in Europe you would know about it, but I wouldn’t expect a writer in modern Britain to know it. CC’s knowledge of Jews in Europe starts around the 1930s, going by SJC.

    I thought the play anti-semitic and nasty but I would absolve CC of deliberately tapping into that particular trope.

    James Wood, who is one of the best literary critics around, thought the play anti-semitic as well.

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=12803252&postID=353499225647649102

    Steve H – perhaps you could point to examples of “straw men” in Freedland’s article. Blood libels aside, they seemed real, living examples of anti-semitism to me.

  6. SteveH said,

    Ok will we pass over the blood libel and move onto straw man number 2,

    The idea we anti Zionists believe that “Jews brand any and all criticism of Israel as antisemitic”. No we don’t, we actually point out, when the pro Zionists accuse us of anti semitism, that many many Jews are opposed to the racist Zionist state and most Zionists are non Jews!!! He is taking our argument to support his, how dishonest!

    Freeland’s attempt to link anti semitism to Israel are desperate.

  7. Rosie said,

    Well, the “anti-Zionists” do seem to expect that the charge of anti-semitism will be made and so are capable of making an overwhelming pre-emptive strike against it:-

    “Today the university and college lecturers’ union UCU passed a motion supporting the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel (158 for, 99 against, 17 abstentions) and a further motion calling for a “moratorium on research and cultural collaborations with Israel”.

    . . motion #30 (“Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions”) contains the following extraordinary statement: “Congress believes that in these circumstances passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic“. Now what the hell is that supposed to mean? That no criticism of Israel can ever, possibly be anti-semitic? Or that not all criticism of Israel is necessarily anti-semitic? It could be read either way, couldn’t it?

    https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/criticism-of-israel-cannot-be-construed-as-anti-semitic/

  8. Shachtman said,

    SteveH says “If Freeland didn’t build up one straw man after another we may take him seriously. But he did and we can’t.”

    and Steve H says one of the straw men is “The idea we anti Zionists believe that “Jews brand any and all criticism of Israel as antisemitic”.

    But two prominent anti-zionists prove Freedland’s point

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1900

    Ken Livingstone “for far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government.”

    Caroline Lucas “Financial and moral support from the United States means that Israel has been able to act with relative immunity, hiding behind its incendiary claim that all who criticise its policies are anti Semitic.”

    And that’s why SteveH can’t be taken seriously.

  9. Rosie said,

    A quick Google:-

    “It is the simple rule of all pro-Israeli organizations and activists: either declare outright or hint at the possibility that any individual criticizing Israel is anti-semitic. Jewish critics — whose numbers are increasing dramatically — are branded as “Jew-hating” Jews. The strategy has been extremely effective at intimidating potential critics into silence.”

    http://www.rabble.ca/columnists/2009/11/Harper-criminalize-criticism-Israel

    This article is repeated on Stormfront with the introduction:-

    “I have been putting up articles for sometime exposing a bitter truth about living in Canada. Canada is NOT a free country, and is actually one of the worse Zionist occupied territories on the planet today!”

    (I won’t link to it and its repulsive racist comments.)

  10. Sarah AB said,

    I do actually agree with SteveH’s logic BUT I also agree with Freedland – I just think he could have made his point a bit more tightly. Here’s a relevant example of the phenomenon from this piece on Engage.

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/lincoln%E2%80%99s-blood-libel-and-seven-jewish-children/

    Here is a quote from a lecturer organising a conference on Churchill, taken from her discussion on 7JC in an academic book.

    “Of course, the play was accused by some of being anti-semitic, an accusation seemingly difficult to avoid for those campaigning against Israeli occupation and expressing Palestinian solidarity.”

    I think here the implication is that those who have concerns about the play are doing so in order to stifle criticism of Israel, and are dishonest (or stupid at best). Now, although I’m sure that those people who do support Israel uncritically wouldn’t like the play, there are plenty of people with a critical attitude towards the occupation and other Israeli policies, or perhaps with no special views or interest in Israel at all, who also have concerns.

  11. SteveH said,

    I am in no doubt that anti semitism is alive and well and that sections of the far rights tempoary alliance with Zionism is just an illusion. I am also prepared to accept that the far right will talk avout Jews controlling the world. However as Sarah points out Freelands article is not tight enough, it tars anti Zionism with the same brush.

    Shachtman makes my point for me. Where is the reference to Jews in the quotes he makes? This was my point that is being conveniently ignored by Shactman. I am well aware that anti Zionism is equated with anti Semitism, I have been called anti semitic on this website more times than I care to remember! What Freeland does is set up the straw man that we anti Zionists believe JEWS throw around this accusation. NO, on the contrary, we point out that many many Jews are anti Zionist and many many Zionists are not Jews.

    Freeland clearly has an agenda here, if his article hadn’t been so dishonest we could have taken it seriously. But it wasn’t and we can’t.

  12. Sarah AB said,

    I don’t think he was being dishonest. But I think it might have been better to have focused, not on the fact that some Jews are critical of Israel, but that many of those who, for example, find 7JC problematic, whether Jewish or not, are either actively critical of Israel’s policies or at least have no problem with robust criticism of Israel.

    Steve – do you think that lecturer’s comment was fair on those people who had concerns with 7JC?

  13. SteveH said,

    My main problem is that art (especially the mainstream) does not tackle issues such as the plight of the Palestinians enough. I just hope the unwarranted criticism here does not put off any future projects or create a climate of fear where free artistic expression is negated.

  14. skidmarx said,

    “Of course, the play was accused by some of being anti-semitic, an accusation seemingly difficult to avoid for those campaigning against Israeli occupation and expressing Palestinian solidarity.”

    Is the statement not true, that some did accuse it of anti-semitism, that it is hard for those campaigning against Israel not to face such a charge? To contend the statement by saying “Other people had concerns about the play that were not motivated by a knee-jerk defence of Israel” is not to challenge its veracity.

  15. Sarah AB said,

    But she refuses to engage with the possibility that those complaining of antisemitism in the play might have a point and that some might also be critics of Israel’s policies. It’s as if someone said about Fitna

    “Of course, the film was accused by some of being Islamophobic, an accusation seemingly difficult to avoid for those concerned with the radical Islamism.’

  16. Sarah AB said,

    I mean just ‘radical islamism’ not ‘the radical islamsism’

  17. Shachtman said,

    SteveH says ” Shachtman makes my point for me. Where is the reference to Jews in the quotes he makes? ”

    Livingstone mad his statement after a Jewish reporter and the Board of Deputies of Jews complained about Livingstone’s verbal attack on a Jewish reporter. That’s the reference to Jews.

    Steve H ” NO, on the contrary, we point out that many many Jews are anti Zionist and many many Zionists are not Jews.”

    Here SteveH uses the typical ployu that antsemites use of using a small number of unreporentative Jews to make Kosher anti-semitism under the cover of anti-zionism. It was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used by Stalin’s anti-semitic , anti-zionist campaign. And here’s Steve H using it again.

    Unfortunately Steve H like most right wing apologists for anti-semitism

  18. Shachtman said,

    Sorry hit the comment button too soon.

    SteveH and Skidmarx are traditional right wing anti-semites and therefore should be treated in the same way as the BNP, The EDL and other racists. They have had it explained to them so many times so there’s no excuse for their apologising for antisemitism.

  19. Shachtman said,

    Skidmarx “Is the statement not true, that some did accuse it of anti-semitism, that it is hard for those campaigning against Israel not to face such a charge? ”

    Only when those campaigning against Israel use traditional antisemitic themes such as demonization , accusing Jews of dishonesty, conspiracy theory and blood libel.

    Skidmarx is a serial apologist for antisemitism.

  20. Shachtman said,

    TO those who disagree with the charge of blood libel, the following explains it quite well and show how the mind of somebody at the Guardian worked when hosting the play.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/01/carylchurchill-theatre

    The Jewish festival of Passover celebrates the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the land of Israel. The festival begins with the seder, when Jewish families gather around the dining table and the story is retold by the adults to the children, who are encouraged to ask questions throughout.

    There is a moment in the seder when the whole family recount the names of the ten plagues visited upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians. As each plague is named, all present dip their finger into red wine – unmistakably reminiscent of blood – and spill a drop onto their plate. The Guardian chose a photograph of this scene to illustrate its online production of Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children.

    The association of blood with Jews is a well-established antisemitic tradition. It is embodied in the blood libel charge, which first appeared in 12th-century England and quickly spread. The accusation was that Jews murder non-Jewish children to use their blood in religious rituals, especially at Passover. Ironically, when Jews spill their wine at the seder, it is to remember with sadness the pain of the Egyptians, not to celebrate their loss. Nevertheless, so many Jews died in blood libel massacres at Passover, that a rabbi in 17th-century Poland ruled that Jews could use white wine, not red, during the seder, lest antisemites mistake the red wine for Christian blood.

  21. Clive said,

    Skidmarx and SteveH; what does constitute anti-semitism, then, in your view? Are you prepared to acknowledge that sometimes people call themselves anti-Zionists, but actually are repeating (deliberately or otherwise, and I’m not sure that makes an enormous difference) anti-semitic ‘tropes’?

    Do you accept that there is a lot of anti-semitism around, which is hardly surprising given the history of it in Europe, say, which includes the most terrible genocide in human history (which took place within the lifetime of, for instance, my parents)?

    Don’t you think it likely that some of what is said about Israel and Zionism is anti-semitic? If you do, please give examples.

  22. skidmarx said,

    what does constitute anti-semitism
    Racism against Jews.
    Are you prepared to acknowledge that sometimes people call themselves anti-Zionists, but actually are repeating anti-semitic ‘tropes’?
    Let’s see some evidence and then we’ll judge. I do think when you’re getting into allegations of unconscious racism (obviously in the part of the question in parentheses that I haven’t reproduced), that’s just weird shitI think that what overwhelmingly links anti-zionism and anti-semitism is the attempt by zionists to pretend that there could be no reason for the first but the second.
    Do you accept that there is a lot of anti-semitism around
    There’s some, otherwise the Jewish primary school a few hundred yards from where I’m sat wouldn’t need a high fence and a permanent security guard. Is it as such levels as anti-Muslim racism in this country? No, I don’t think so. Given that most American kids think that Russia was on the other side in WWII, I don’t thnink that claiming that an event contemporaneous has so infected the minds of Europeans that the racism is transmitted nearly unto the fourth generation is bizarro thinking.

    Don’t you think it likely that some of what is said about Israel and Zionism is anti-semitic? If you do, please give examples.
    No, if you want to make such a case then you can trot out some examples. Though I’m not sure I should so encourage you, as often we’ve waded through examples of supposed left-antisemitism before, only to discover little truth behind them.

  23. skidmarx said,

    20.Shachtman – actually Dave Rich and Mark Gardner’s article shows very little.

    19.Only when those campaigning against Israel use traditional antisemitic themes such as demonization , accusing Jews of dishonesty, conspiracy theory and blood libel.

    Skidmarx is a serial apologist for antisemitism.

    Only when…but rght now without any evidience other than my criticism of Zionism. The duplicity couldn’t be more obvious. Thanks for setting it out neatly in two contradictory sentences.

    18. SteveH and Skidmarx are traditional right wing anti-semites
    Thank the Lord you didn’t have to go offline before amending the charge and extending it to me. Surely if any of what you say is true, rather than being trad right-wing we’d be hiding our anti-semitism behind modern far left rhetoric? When you can be bothered to veneer your abuse with a modicum of sense come back and give it another go.

    @Sarah AB 15&16 – I think it is a great deal more obvious that Fitna is an attack on Islam. So I don’t think any comparison is really going anywhere.

  24. Rosie said,

    My main problem is that art (especially the mainstream) does not tackle issues such as the plight of the Palestinians enough. I just hope the unwarranted criticism here does not put off any future projects or create a climate of fear where free artistic expression is negated.

    Churchill’s play was a big hit and is performed all over the world!

  25. charliethechulo said,

    Case proven I think, Clive.

    Btw, Skidders, I’m not sure what the relevance of Russia’s role in WW2 is to this particular debate, but as a matter of fact Russia *was* in reality “on the other side” between 1939 and 1941.

    • skidmarx said,

      So you’re for a defencist position on WWII and not a Third Campist one?

      The relevance is that if the kids today in one of the major belligerent countries don’t know what happened then, one particular event from then is unlikely to have a secretly corrosive effect passed magically down the generations, and if the Holocaust had passed down a collective sense of guilt to European kids, which is quite as outlandish an idea but still going some, you would have expected it to have precisely the opposite effect.

  26. Clive said,

    Skidmarx: “Is it as such levels as anti-Muslim racism in this country? No, I don’t think so.”

    What’s that got to do with anything? This is a terrible, terrible argument (in so far as it’s an argument rather than an insinuation): that because there are (arguably) worse instances of racism, this one doesn’t count.

    “Given that most American kids think that Russia was on the other side in WWII, I don’t thnink that claiming that an event contemporaneous has so infected the minds of Europeans that the racism is transmitted nearly unto the fourth generation is bizarro thinking.”

    Good lord. * Bizarro? * So you think racism just spontaneously generates in each generation? I haven’t followed you closely, Skidmarx, but I didn’t think you were quite this much of a twit.

    At the very least, does it not occur to you that some ‘fourth generation’ people are quite sensitive to anti-semitism because their grandparents, say, were murdered?

    Did you not know that the BNP calls itself anti-Zionist? Or that the Saudi ruling class, for instance, does. Or do you think their hostility to Israel is to be taken as good coin?

    • skidmarx said,

      1. You asked the question about anti-semitism, I tried to give you an answer. In fact I suspect it wasn’t a genuine enquiry, just an attempt to bring out a useful quote for an attack.

      2. No, I don’t, but neither do I think it it is transmitted genetically or just hangs around in the aether.

      3.Yes it does so occur to me. Doesn’t seem to stop anyone shouting down Norman Finkelstein for example.

      4. I know they’re supporters of Israel, or at least say they are. Possibly it does, though it’s been at the forefront of attempts to deny the Palestinian refugees the right of return, which should endear them to you no end.

      • Clive said,

        “I tried to give you an answer.”

        Did you? I asked you to say what you would consider anti-semitism, and you said ‘anti-Jewish racism.’ That’s hardly an answer to the question, since it’s just a tautology.

        I’ll ask again, more precisely. Can you imagine any sort of anti-Israeli argument which *would* be anti-semitic?

        And I note you’ve not responded to the point about whether racism pops out of nowhere, and has nothing to do with previous generations, general culture, history, etc. Or the point that ‘hierarchies of racism’ is not a very good argument.

      • Clive said,

        Correction: you sort of did respond to the issue about culture. You write: “neither do I think it it is transmitted genetically or just hangs around in the aether”.

        This is too stupid to rebut.

  27. Rosie said,

    I don’t think so. Given that most American kids think that Russia was on the other side in WWII, I don’t thnink that claiming that an event contemporaneous has so infected the minds of Europeans that the racism is transmitted nearly unto the fourth generation is bizarro thinking.

    I actually don’t understand what this refers to. I thought it was in the nature of bigotry that it is transferred across the generations, be it Christendom against Jews, Northern Irish Protestants against Catholics and vice versa, whites against African Americans in the USA. In fact, isn’t that one of racism’s most noticeable characteristics – the passing on and inheritance of bigotry?

  28. jim denham said,

    Let’s be blunt: there are only two possible explanations for the contributions of ‘SteveH’ and ‘Skidmarx’ in the course of this debate.

    1/ (The charitable explanation): they are just stupid “anti-zionists” and think anti-semitism is not a major or serious issue these days.

    2/ (The less charitable explanation): they -like, for instance Ken Loach- think it isn’t such a bad thing (or that it’s “understandable”).

    • skidmarx said,

      Jim, set light to your blunt and stick it in your mouth, maybe you’ll get a little more coherent than “They must be anti-semites!”

      • Clive said,

        Well, then: do you think anti-semitism isn’t much of an issue – which your comment above about how anti-Muslim racism is worse seems to imply?

        Or do you think it’s understandable?

  29. Sarah AB said,

    skidmarx – I wouldn’t disagree with you about Fitna being more obviously Islamophobic than 7JC is antisemitic. But I was trying to suggest a kind of excluded middle ground in both the lecturer’s statement and in my own version of it – she implies that people who are concerned by 7JC are obviously in favour of the occupation and opposed to the Palestinian cause – I ‘implied’ that anyone who objects to Fitna must be invoking ‘Islamophobia’ dishonestly in order to stifle debate about extremism.

    You asked for an example of antizionism shading into antisemitism. How about the use of this cartoon in a piece which is critical of Israel?

    http://www.mpacuk.org/story/020311/should-palestinian-kids-learn-about-holocaust.html

    • skidmarx said,

      Don’t like the cartoon, seems to suggest that noone really died in the Holocaust. Actually the article seems to suggest that Palestinian kids should learn about the Holocaust, is that not a good thing?

      • skidmarx said,

        I might also note then we’ve discussed that cartoon before. I was accused of defending that cartoon in a discussion on HP. So I tend to associate it with the making of false allegations, rather than a-Z/a-S slippage.

      • Clive said,

        Isn’t it also rather obvious what conclusions it is suggesting they should draw? And ‘no one really died in the Holocaust’ has a name, doesn’t it?

  30. modernity said,

    Let’s concentrate on Seven Jewish children, for the moment.

    Let’s suppose hypothetically that there was a play, called Seven French children, and the playwright said it wasn’t against the French, but it was the highlight the inequalities in Europe and the French’s role.

    So let’s suppose that.

    Then further, that the play, portrayed the French in a negative light, bringing up the old rubbish about (directly or implied) “cheese eating surrender monkeys”, “capitulation to the Nazis”, “collaboration with the Nazis”, “how they should know better”, etc etc

    If the play encompassed that type of message (directly or implied), then I imagine that most antiracists here, and anyone else with a little sense, would acknowledge such a play would embody xenophobia and racism towards the French?

    Please let me know of anyone disagrees with that.

    So when another play comes along called Severn Jewish children and portrays Jews in a negative light, consciously, then why are we meant to believe that one play could be classified as “xenophobic and racist towards the French” but not the other, when the object of the animus is Jews??

    Or put another way, why isn’t Seven Jewish children to be considered a negative, detrimental and racist theatrical production?

    That’s my question to the “anti-Zionists” here?

    Why?

  31. skidmarx said,

    So when another play comes along called Severn Jewish children
    Is that one set in Bristol?

    I still haven’t really bothered reading it. When somebody like modernity comes along and repeatedly abuses you for allegedly expressing a view on a play you haven’t read, then demands that you read the play so that he can argue about it, a basic cost-benefit analysis would suggest that as his accusations in any future are likely to be as ill-informed and stupid at those that went before, learning to play his game isn’t worth the candle.
    And the “I’ve just thought up a loaded analogy with the French that I’d like to solicit comments those who might have the audacity to disagree with me that anything that portrays the Israelis in a negative light, or might even be thought to do so, is as anti-semitic as any pencil-moustached failed Austrian artist ever was” technique is just getting stale.

  32. modernityblog said,

    How can you comment on something you haven’t read?

    It is in front of you.

    In two places, plus a video.

    If someone can’t be troubled to read the main body of the post, which includes the play, then presumably they can’t be troubled to be very serious about antiracism?

  33. skidmarx said,

    hen presumably they can’t be troubled to be very serious about antiracism?
    Lying piece of shit. Just because I’m not obsessed by your obsessions.

  34. modernityblog said,

    Please, all of the evidence shows that Skidmarx is not serious about anti-racism, otherwise he would have READ the text to Seven Jewish Children above, BEFORE commenting on it.

    Had he been semi-serious, he might have even watched the video, but no, he’s had plenty of time (weeks in fact) to review the text and video, since it was first posted on Bob’s ages ago.

    Yet Skidmarx can’t be arsed to read it and comment on its content, so he comments having not read anything, which is illogical and not serious.

    And if he’s not going to be serious then why should be take him seriously?

    • skidmarx said,

      I was generally commenting on everything but the play.

  35. Shachtman said,

    Skidmarx “I still haven’t really bothered reading it. When somebody like modernity comes along and repeatedly abuses you for allegedly expressing a view on a play you haven’t read, ”

    Skidmarx doesn’t need to read it. because he’s a serial apologist for anti-semitism.

    Actually admitting that he hasn’t read it while being the first to comment does however show that he’s stupid as well as anti-semitic. Ban him Jim , no platform for racists.

    • skidmarx said,

      Banning for NOT reading a play? That would be original at least.

  36. modernityblog said,

    Jim,

    Please don’t ban Skidmarx, for the moment.

    Otherwise he can avoid addressing the question of WHY he can’t be troubled to read Seven Jewish Children and make an informed comment on it.

    Also, it would be good if the other “anti-Zionists” posting here could give us their view on the play, Seven Jewish Children, and Skidmarx’s lack of seriousness.

    The play, Seven Jewish Children is not long, and you could probably read it quicker than a copy of Socialist Worker, and it is a good way of seeing how serious “anti-Zionists” are, about their anti-racism.

  37. Sarah AB said,

    Skidmarx – go on, it’s very short! I’m relieved you don’t like the cartoon by the way. I do see your point in the first comment, but there are other reasons to feel dubious about the play.

    • skidmarx said,

      The first comment on the thread? or the first half of #31?

      I did bother reading your pdf on the subject, which would appear to be longer than the play, though I forget much of the detail.

      • Sarah AB said,

        skidmarx – one could write an entire article about an 8 line poem! Thanks for reading the lecture though I’m slightly baffled as to why you read it if you hadn’t yet read the play.

      • skidmarx said,

        See 31.

        The linguistic narcissism of Christopher Hitchens. Off-topic, but I guess that’s where I wanna be.

  38. modernityblog said,

    Sarah,

    Skidmarx has had FOUR occasions, at least, to view the text and view the video.

    I posted it twice at Bob’s and he still didn’t read it, or watch the video.

    I posted it a few days back in a thread here with a video clip too, and still NOTHING.

    *This* very post has the text of the play in it, so it is impossible to miss.

    Impossible for any rational person, capable of reading, four times!

    I just wonder if the other “anti-Zionists” here even took the trouble to read the play, Seven Jewish Children as well?

  39. Shachtman said,

    Skidmarx “@Sarah AB 15&16 – I think it is a great deal more obvious that Fitna is an attack on Islam. So I don’t think any comparison is really going anywhere.”

    Yet he hasn’t read it …………………. (even if he is correct which i think he is).

    • skidmarx said,

      That’s a good point, though having seen a few seconds of clips of Fitna and having had may eyes graze over the text of 7JC, (though especially with a play where lines are not assigned to particular speakers this doesn’t seem to give a full appreciation of the content) my knowledge of the two is at a similar level. I did also at one point look at the Guardian copy, which was promised by the CST duo to be accompanied by a picture of a Jewish family seder, though the first minute and a half gave no indication of such.

  40. Kanda said,

    According to Amnesty International 330 children were killed by the IDF in Operation Cast Lead last year, including a number that “were shot at close range when posing no threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers”. Amnesty also document the two following incidents:

    •On 4 January, Sa’adallah Matar Abu Halima and four of his children were killed in a white phosphorus attack on their home in the Sayafa area in north-west Gaza. His wife Sabah was seriously burned and told Amnesty International that she had watched her baby girl Shahed melt in her arms. Soon after the attack Israeli soldiers shot dead at close range cousins Matar and Muhammad Abu Halima as they tried to take their burned relatives to hospital.

    •During the night of 6 January, 22 members of the al-Daya family, most of them women and children, were killed when an Israeli F-16 aircraft bombed their home in the al-Zaytoun district of Gaza City.

    http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,,ISR,4562d8cf2,4c03a821c,0.html

    Presumably by reporting these facts Amnesty International were perpetuating the blood liable too. I guess Palestinian kids should be allowed to be murdered with impunity so as not to offend the sensibilities of Israeli apologists like Norman Geras and Jim Denham.

  41. Kanda said,

    Sorry, the Amnesty report was last year… OCL was of course 2008-9.

  42. jim denham said,

    Kanda: ” I guess Palestinian kids should be allowed to be murdered with impunity so as not to offend the sensibilities of Israeli apologists like Norman Geras and Jim Denham”

    Even by the standards of some recent comments on this blog, that is an almost unbelievably stupid and libelous comment.

    • skidmarx said,

      So “libellous” as well as “politically anti-semitic” is now a synonym for “anti-zionist”?

      What finally got me banned from http://www.socialistunity.com was suggesting that its host had invented a language called Newmansch in which ordinary definitions had been turned on their head, so perhaps I’d better leave this one there.

  43. Kanda said,

    The basis of your critique of Seven Jewish Children is that it talks about Palestinian children being killed by the IDF and hence promotes “the blood libel”. Presumably Amnesty are also in the dock for documenting such killings? Or prehaps you’d like to clarify exactly how and when even talking about those killings starts to promote “the blood libel”?

  44. modernityblog said,

    The basis for criticising the play, Seven Jewish Children, is that it paints ONE and only one, ethnic group in a negative light.

    If, however, you held racist views towards Jews then you might not have a problem with that, but most antiracists should.

    It is interesting to see how “anti-Zionists” react to such racism.

  45. jim denham said,

    Kanda: I think Anthony Julius’s letter in today’s Guardian, answers your point pretty effectively:

    LettersAntisemitism debate

    In Trials of the Diaspora, I argue that Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children is antisemitic. Churchill (Letters, 4 March) denies this characterisation, writing that I rely on the line “tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies?”.

    I had in mind the following lines, among others. “Tell her we killed the babies by mistake / Don’t tell her anything about the army.” “Tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.” “Tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out.” “Tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people.”

    In this play, Jews confess to lying to their own children and killing Palestinian children. They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself.

    None of this seems to bother Churchill – nor, indeed, the Guardian. As she correctly notes, the play is available on your website.

    Anthony Julius

    London

  46. Kanda said,

    No, it’s a polemic that takes a side in a conflict, that’s not racism and it’s got nothing to do with the blood libel.

  47. modernityblog said,

    Oh, I see the “anti-Zionist” line, racism is OK if it is a “polemic”?

    Novel, but not very strong, to rational people least ways.

  48. jim denham said,

    Kanda: taking a polemical side in a conflict is, in general, fine and something we at Shiraz Socialist do frequently. However, in national conflicts a one-sided partisanship and refusal to even consider compromise is usually a sign of bigotry if not out-and-out racism.

    I am quite willing to agree that the Palestinians are the main victims and the Israelis the oppressors in the Israel/Palestine dispute. Just like I recognised at the time that the Muslim Kosovans were, overwhelmingly, the victims and the Serbs the oppressors in that conflict. But socialists are in favour of compromise and reconcilaition in these situations, not revenge, or even “justice”.

    The trouble with a lot of “anti-Zionist” propaganda (including Churchill’s miserable “play”) is that it ignores the absolutely essential historical context, casts *all* Israelis in the role of oppressors and offers *no* way forward in terms of reconcilliation or compromise. Jews, accordsing to her, are simply the Bad Guys who must be defeated.

    As a general rule, in my experience (and there are exceptions, both ways), the dividing line between legitimate political criticism of Israel and anti-semitism is the question of two states.

    As a rough rule of thumb, people who accept Isreal’s right to exist behind pre-1967 borders are – no matter how critical of Israel they may be- are*not* anti-semites.

    Those who hanker after some sort of “one-state” “solution” usually *are* anti-semites.

    Btw: in this context, “anti-semitism” does *not* have to mean personal hatred of individual Jews. It means the denial of *political* rights (noteably self determination) to the Jewish people.

  49. charliethechulo said,

    Just noticed this from Skidders (to Mod, asking him why he hasn’t actually seen or read the play before commenting on it)):

    “Lying piece of shit. Just because I’m not obsessed by your obsessions.”

    To which the obvious answer is, “Because I -unlike you – am concerned about truth and facts. You pathetic little anti-semitic piece of shit.”

    • skidmarx said,

      I suppose that is the obvious answer.Doesn’t make it true.

  50. modernityblog said,

    “The trouble with a lot of “anti-Zionist” propaganda (including Churchill’s miserable “play”) is that it ignores the absolutely essential historical context, casts *all* Israelis in the role of oppressors and offers *no* way forward in terms of reconcilliation or compromise.”

    I am going to disagree with Jim on this.

    The play cast JEWS in an exceedingly bad light, it doesn’t mention Israelis.

    The play is aimed at attacking Jews, as can be seen by the various tools employed, e.g. sneering reference to “the chosen people” is common currency on the Extreme Right’s web sites.

    The reference to “Powerful Jews” is another piece of Far Right paranoia, etc etc

    The short play is dripping with offensive references.

    If it were about any *other* ethnic minority, then I’m sure that the collective “Anti-Zionists” here would have acknowledged that a negative theatrical work aimed at attacking one ethnic minority would certainly be considered racist, but as Jews are attacked in this miserable play, then the racism is seemingly given a pass and it is ignored.

    • Harry said,

      Modernity wrote:

      The play is aimed at attacking Jews, as can be seen by the various tools employed, e.g. sneering reference to “the chosen people” is common currency on the Extreme Right’s web sites.

      The bit about “chosen people” should have set off alarm bells, and yet it hasn’t. Is this solely down to ignorance?

  51. Sarah AB said,

    Actually – I disagree that it casts all Jews/Israelis in a bad light – or rather, quite a few of the ‘unassigned’ lines seem to reflect a softer, more conciliatory and dovish, Israeli voice. However I agree with Anthony Julius’ analysis, essentially. I posted a lecture as a pdf recently in which I discuss, in particular, the effect of having no lines to assigned speakers.

    http://www.adjb.net/sab/index.php?entry=entry110126-213644

    Briefly, I tried to suggest that you could carve a more – or less – sympathetic play out of the lines because you could decide who said what (and how). If it was quite as *obviously* problematic as some have suggested then in a sense it would also be *less* problematic – then it wouldn’t divide people so much, and people like Steve and skidmarx would object to it too, I suppose. But as it is you can look at a line like ‘tell her we killed the babies by mistake’ and think that’s sincere and concerned or a horrible lie.

    • modernity said,

      Sarah,

      You are presumably familiar with the general schemes for analysing for racism?

      Normally, what is done is to look out for motifs, signals which relate to specific ethnic minorities or groups.

      So, for example, if you were looking at a particular text concerning the Irish and it went on about their “feckless character”, “perpetual drunkenness”, “brutishness” or “continually warring” then you might reasonably conclude that that text amplifiers those particular racial notions which have come to be associated with the Irish (particularly from a British perspective).

      Similarly, if someone was to go on ad nauseam about “cheese eating surrender monkeys”, “capitulation”, “surrender” and “frogs legs” then we would know that that is squarely aimed at the French.

      The problem being that when you come to antisemitism, the topic is VAST.

      The particular motifs and signals connected to antisemitism are numerous, then when you further subdivide between anti-Judaic racism, the advent of antisemitism, modern 20th-century antisemitism and contemporary antisemitism (with its differences from geographical region to geographical region), the matter is further complicated.

      There are, however, certain triggers, certain phrases that raise the hackles and you only really become familiar with that usage, when you compare it with the most vociferous antisemites currently around, on the Extreme Right.

      Therefore, to grasp the significance of particular phrases we have to see them in the context they are used by antisemites, and take up the larger themes

      To analyse the text is further complicated because it requires us to know what the words and phrases, along with their underlying ideas are common currency amongst antisemites.

      Thus, there are many levels to analysing the extent of racism within the play, Seven Jewish Children.

      More broadly, we have two ways of looking at it.

      1. We could take a criteria which would be applicable to nearly all ethnic minorities, and then apply it to the play and see what the result is. That is the basics.

      2. We could look for specific themes and motifs of anti-Jewish racism within the play.

      And for me, on so many levels this play is wrong, obviously wrong.

      • skidmarx said,

        We could take a criteria
        Or even a “criterion”.

      • Sarah AB said,

        I think it both invokes antisemitic tropes, possibly not intentionally yet I think sometimes intentionally – eg chosen people (and does quite a few other dodgy things, eg use that particular story arc) AND presents some potentially ‘nice’ Israeli voices or speeches.

  52. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘Skidmarx “I still haven’t really bothered reading it. When somebody like modernity comes along and repeatedly abuses you for allegedly expressing a view on a play you haven’t read, ”

    Skidmarx doesn’t need to read it. because he’s a serial apologist for anti-semitism’.

    I had the same issue with him when it came to his endorsement of Rwandan genocide denial.

    • skidmarx said,

      And your lies about Rwanda (and why is this libellous fool allowed here and David Ellis is not) similarly disinclined me to learn any more about that subject. It is somewhat of a low pleasure to watch control freaks like you and modernity wig out when you can’t control people’s behaviour.

      • sackcloth and ashes said,

        So I’m lying about your views, am I, skidmark? If that’s the case, then why haven’t you got the guts to answer this straightforward question?

        Do you endorse Christian Davenport’s account of events in Rwanda in 1994?

        Yes, or no?

  53. skidmarx said,

    I quite liked The Cleveland Show’s take on prejudice, though it might have had some here frothing at the mouth.

  54. SteveH said,

    ChuChuTrain,

    You still haven’t answered my question re the link below

    https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/unite-labour-councils-and-the-cuts/

    P.S. I actually agree with Kanda when he says,

    “Presumably by reporting these facts Amnesty International were perpetuating the blood liable too. I guess Palestinian kids should be allowed to be murdered with impunity so as not to offend the sensibilities of Israeli apologists like Norman Geras and Jim Denham.”

    I would just add Modernity and Shachtman to the list.

  55. socialrepublican said,

    Skidders

    At the very least, you see no harm in “genocide revision” with regards to Rwanda. Do you feel the same way about David Irving and how his work “opens up debate”. Because Herman and Peterson uses much the same devices and with much the same implicit aim not to explore what happened to find what is useful to their weltanschaung. Climate denialists? Creationists? Flat-earthers?

    A pertinant point to be made is how the classic and varied tropes about the Jew created by Christian, Nationalist or Islamic societies and movements form a basic archetype of “otherness”. This archetype is then transferable onto other “others”. Even more so, the Jews conceived ambigious nature allows a greater range for the archetype’s apllication. Thjey are both foreign and assilimated, both race and religion, welthy and poor, carriers of dangerous ideas and unenlightened obsurists

    Considered the grand narrative of SOIA/SOIE/EDL/BNP campaign against Muslims, Griffin’s “near enemy”, the same archetype is there. Here a incredibly powerful but hidden conspiracy seeks to fundamentally “corrupt” existing societies, using a parallel and similar essentialist conception of society to those opposed to it. It uses political discord to its own aims, is parasitic on the societies it seeks to overcome and is engaged in a cosmic struggle of symbolism and creeping power whilst its “victims” remain unaware. This struggle is central to history, involving every major change in human conditions and the true dialectic of time. This threat has a multitude of gentile/unislamic co-conspirators and these “useful idiots” divide up any required unity to defeat this menace. Apart from the prominancy of the financial contol element, this is a direct take from the picture drawn by the Protocols and the works of high modern anti-semitism

    The revealed truth at the heart of Hutu power was of a similar type. Tutsi were immoral, decadent, alien yet hidden, incredible powerful and involved in a long term strategy of racial annihilation. A Hutu propagandist published an academic paper just before the genocide describing tecniques to rally the Hutu population to wide spread violence against their Tutsi neighbours. One of the tools was called “Accusations in a mirror”. That is to brand the other with the same intended sins as the accuser plans. This is another classic trope of anti-Semitism, that the Jews are seeking a race conflict, are active in a campaign of deceit and are looking to cement their own group unity via social scission.

    How could any half-arsed half arty critic of Israel refuse to delve into such a rich background of tropes, ideas and rationales that classic AS offeres? This is especially reinforced by the patterns of Fanon-esque anti-imperialism many sprung from i.e the intrisically virtuous repressed and the intrisically nefarious oppressors.

    Churchill’s play flirts with the archetype, considers the superficial connections as truly insightful, as somehow historically ironic and revealing. The presumed uniqueness of this described hateful nationalism/sectarianism, it has no home apart from within Israel, or given the plays essentialist title, within Jews (the bad ones, of course, those who do not deny their own right to national self-determination)

    • skidmarx said,

      sackcloth and ashes – is creating yet another sock-puppet to spread your Rwanda libel really supposed to impress me much?

      Why is this libellous sack of shit allowed to post here when David Ellis is banned?

      • sackcloth and ashes said,

        I’m libelling you by asking you a straight-forward question?

        Do you think Davenport is right or wrong? A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do.

        You seem remarkably scared of answering an innocuous question, skidmark.

  56. modernityblog said,

    So there we have it another “Anti-Zionist”, SteveH, can’t see any racism in the play, Seven Jewish children?

    Or maybe he can?

    Maybe “Anti-Zionists” accept that a bit of racism is acceptable when it comes to dealing with Israelis or Jews? Who knows?

    It is very hard to say what these “Anti-Zionists” actually think, as they’re not particularly articulate or clear in their view on antiracism.

    So a question to the “Anti-Zionists” here:

    can ANY of you see any form of racism in the play, Seven Jewish children?

    If so, then what form does it take?

  57. modernity said,

    “1. We could take a criteria which would be applicable to nearly all ethnic minorities, and then apply it to the play and see what the result is. That is the basics.”

    Returning to this point.

    If we were to question if a work of art, be it a play, book or otherwise is racist then we would have to provide a reason and set of judgements for that view, which might look something like this:

    1. Is the piece of work aimed at one or more ethnicities?

    2. Does the piece of work convey a hostile or disparaging image of those ethnicities?

    3. Does the piece of work utilise pejorative language towards those ethnicities?

    4. Does the piece of work utilise, directly or implied, historically negative images of those ethnicities?

    and so on.

    Should those questions elicit a positive response then the piece of work might well be classified as racist, and those apply whether or not the piece of work was related to the Irish, the Roma, Afro-Caribbeans, Asians or even Jews, etc etc

    So you need to ask yourself the question, do these points apply to the play, Seven Jewish children? And if not, why not?

  58. flyingrodent said,

    I like a good read myself but I’m not the theatre type, so I don’t really know who Caryl Churchill is or what the rest of her output is like.

    On this play though, I do have to ask – why is it, do you think, that Churchill’s critics have been beating her up on and off for over two years, and yet their criticisms haven’t gained any wider traction?*

    I mean, the play’s been performed countless times across the country, yet complaints are largely restricted to a few blogs. If the racism in the play is so utterly stark and clearly blatant, how come it’s only a tiny gaggle of internet types who have noticed?

    The open-and-shut case by definition doesn’t take more than seven hundred days to prosecute, try and convict. It should be at least fairly obvious to the casual observer – that’s why they call it an “Open-and-shut” case. That suggests that the issue is a little less cut and dried than Jim etc. are leading us to believe.

    *Unless you count ‘a mention by Jonathan Freedland’ as wider traction, of course.

  59. modernityblog said,

    flyingrodent,

    Let us cut the crap, having read the play (have you?), can you see any racist implications in it?

    Again, it is embedded in the post above you can read it, and having read it, can you see anything wrong with it?

  60. flyingrodent said,

    Let us cut the crap

    No, I wouldn’t fancy answering that one either, if I were you. All that indifference either implies that a) the entire country is horrifyingly racist/indifferent to racism or that b) you’re at least a little bit wrong.

    it is embedded in the post above you can read it… can you see anything wrong with it?

    That’s Jimbo’s interpretation of it that’s embedded, I think. Having scanned the actual text, I must confess that it is very pretentious and wanky.

    I’m not overly concerned with the content, bluntly. It’s certainly not a clear-eyed and neutral take on Israel/Palestine – it’s perfectly fine for it not to be, by the way – but neither is it filled with the race hatred you’re so keen to shove into it, unless using the word “Jew” to mean “Jewish person” became terrifyingly racist since the last time I looked.

    Here’s my take – I think that this OMG Churchill is the racistest thing hasn’t caught on after more than two years of frantic pimping because of the pisspoor sales job. Exhibit A: Look at Jim’s “review” of the text, then look at the play itself. It’s all a bit silly, really. It’s not going to sell to anyone who isn’t already sold, is it?

  61. modernityblog said,

    “I’m not overly concerned with the content, bluntly.”

    Precisely the point.

    The “anti-Zionists” here and others, such as flyingrodent, aren’t antiracists, so they can’t recognised racism when they see it.

    They’re not particularly concerned with racism towards Jews and intellectually can’t grasp the issues.

    That’s the problem.

  62. flyingrodent said,

    They’re not particularly concerned with racism towards Jews and intellectually can’t grasp the issues.

    Yes, there you go. After my last comment, I wrote It’s because you are indifferent to antisemitism and absolutely not because I am wrong in any way at all on a piece of paper next to my computer, just for the hell of it.

    I wasn’t exactly right, but I think “not particularly concerned” and “can’t grasp” are close enough, though.

  63. socialrepublican said,

    I assure you, Skidders, i am not a Sock Puppet. I am 30 year old hairy marionette from Oxford with a unhealthy disregard of foot furnishings

    You gave a pass to a work that argued that the RDF were the prime movers behind a genocide of Hutu and no genocide of Tutsi under the auspices of Hutu power alliance occured, a claim not only unsubstantiated a vast wealth of evidence but drawing from know and declared genocide deniers. This work sets out to propose this libel because it is politically useful. I would suggest your defence was similarly motivated

    I can dig up the thread and your responces if you wish

    I do wonder if you would so vehemently defend the ultra-Israeli nationalist narratives of denying the Nabka and declaiming Palestinian suffering as a myth prepertuated by Great power involvement. Such narratives exists and I find them repellent as do much better historians of I/P than you or I. But I’m fairly sure should it become politcal useful, you could be counted on to declare any horror at such deceit being due to an “agenda” rather than at the hatred such “revisionism” entails

    Shall we compromise and say you are easy with racism and genocide denial when it suits? Come on, as a opening position, that’s pretty generous. What’s your offer?

  64. modernityblog said,

    flyingrodent,

    You’re not interested, why not admit it?

    If you had been, truly had been then you might have engaged with the issues and the arguments.

    I have explained it in some detail in my comments of March 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm and March 9, 2011 at 10:34 am.

    Either you get the point about what is or what is NOT racism, or you don’t.

    You’re an intelligent individual, surely in your own mind you could define a set of criteria which would characterise a piece of work as racist or not?

    Then you could apply that work to any piece of literature and see what the results are.

    So if intellectually you can manage that, then why not make an effort, if you can, to apply some objective criteria to the play, Seven Jewish children?

  65. socialrepublican said,

    Flying Rodent

    Stop having mock vapours for, i guess….comic effect?

    “OMG Churchill is the racistest thing”

    Is not what anyone hears is saying

    The proposition is that Churchill’s play, that I and others have undertaken the surprisingly Herculean task of reading, uses classic anti-semitic tropes to reinforces its condemnation of Israeli/Jewish society. Do you disagree? Or does that fact that Churchill is not charged with incitement, blacklisted or in the Tower or kidnapped by Mossad or what ever nefarious end those uppity “blogs” have in store mean you don’t even have to engage with the evidence before writing a series of comments that took longer to produce than to read the bloody play

    Here’s a link, you lazy fuck

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:TL5cdR2ppXgJ:www.royalcourttheatre.com/mmlib/includes/sendapplicationfile.php?id%3D157+seven+jewish+children&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESg_d9gao3oqgWOF0j7mglPKr8pcXCAmbOTj5C7DYfi7yADzmqXKebZJqDzeNoZGYqdPPjh2AqnflsTpLLQO6B6fgDParmJmD4IuUi7OBQKRk-pVAIDzkl3n7nbAs5-2w0p7eNFy&sig=AHIEtbQvdu1d0UsvU5zwBSzJRkVkSSW2Eg

  66. flyingrodent said,

    You’re not interested, why not admit it?

    That’s a bit unfair, but I must admit that, after years of being repeatedly called a goose-stepping, psychotic Nazi thirsting for genocide for bugger all on blogs very like this one, I tend to approach accusations of racism that emanate from those blogs with a lot more scepticism than I would those that come from practically any other source.

    That’s a logical failing on my part – just because the various Decent blogs have a lengthy and well-documented history of wild exaggeration and bullshit for political purposes, that doesn’t mean they’re wildly exaggerating and bullshitting every single time.

    And yet, reading again, I try and fail to find most of the play objectionable, except on aesthetic terms. Baby-murdering may be part of an antisemitic tradition but then, children have also died in swathes under Israeli bombs, just as they have in most or all conflicts. The needless death of kids is a standard go-to for writers on the horrors of war. Are writers not to address it? Is it racist to describe the reality of the I/P conflict?

    And I don’t find a play about Israel that depicts some of the country’s inhabitants as indifferent to suffering or, basically, as bad people, troubling at all. There are indifferent and bad people everywhere, though they tend to be more common in warzones.

    And finally, all this stuff…

    Is the piece of work aimed at one or more ethnicities? Does the piece of work convey a hostile or disparaging image of those ethnicities? Does the piece of work utilise pejorative language towards those ethnicities? Does the piece of work utilise, directly or implied, historically negative images of those ethnicities?

    Well, let’s just note that this test could be used as a pretty full-on indictment of, say, the generally inoffensive Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency. It’d hang, draw and quarter somebody as basically uncontroversial as Louis De Bernieres, too.

    Essentially, I’m sure it’s possible to regard the play as terrifyingly racist, if you actively want to see it that way. I could very well be missing it because of psychological failings and flaws on my part.

    Alternatively, it’s also possible that you guys are wrong. I would say that the lack of complaint in wider society supports my reading and not yours, but who knows? Perhaps the rot of racism is deeper and fouler than any of us had expected.

  67. modernityblog said,

    “I tend to approach accusations of racism that emanate from those blogs with a lot more scepticism than I would those that come from practically any other source.”

    flyingrodent,

    The question of racism is independent of anyone here, logically speaking.

    The question of the play, Seven Jewish children depends on your ability to analyse it.

    So either you do, or you don’t?

    And apparently, as a highly intelligent person, you can’t engage with these comparatively trivial intellectual questions, so you can’t see any racism?

    If you don’t have any opposition to anti-Jewish racism then really you don’t have any antiracism in you, and we’re back to where we started.

  68. flyingrodent said,

    The question of racism is independent of anyone here, logically speaking.

    Yes, and I did openly acknowledge this. You might’ve noticed that it was me that volunteered it as an issue in the first place.

    you can’t engage with these comparatively trivial intellectual questions, so you can’t see any racism?

    I thought that I had engaged with them, and that I’d dismissed them as either inconclusive or logically dubious.

    Again, this may well be because I’m insensitive or because I have huge ideological blind spots. Alternatively, it might just be that I’m correct. As before, I suggest that the lack of public dissent over the play probably supports my position and not yours.

  69. modernityblog said,

    flyingrodent,

    Why you can’t see the racism in the play I can’t say.

    But let me put it another way, if in the 1980s I tried to explain the benefit of trade unions and the welfare state to a hard right Thatcherite politician I would have been pissing in the wind.

    They wouldn’t simply understand the points.

    And that’s the difficulty here, there is no common ground, you don’t understand racism, you don’t understand anti-Jewish racism, and you can’t comprehend why others might find the play offensive.

    That’s it.

  70. flyingrodent said,

    That’s it.

    Well, I’m glad you’re so very confident in your opinion. You do seem to be in a huge minority on this re: people who have seen and read the play, but it’s certainly not impossible that practically all of those people are equally uncomprehending.

    It is, of course, rather more likely that you’re just wrong, but you don’t seem at all receptive to that idea, I’ll leave it at that.

  71. modernityblog said,

    “You do seem to be in a huge minority on this re: people who have seen and read the play,”

    Isn’t that a fallacy ?

    To believe that there is a majority opinion and that majority opinion must be right?

    If you or someone else can put a good argument as to why it shouldn’t be considered racist, then that might be informative but has that hasn’t happened we’re back to square one.

  72. flyingrodent said,

    Isn’t that a fallacy ? To believe that there is a majority opinion and that majority opinion must be right?

    It is and it isn’t. It’s usually an indicator that you might have gone awry somewhere, but not always.

    If you or someone else can put a good argument as to why it shouldn’t be considered racist…

    You’ve got this the wrong way round – you’re making the accusation, so the onus is on you to prove that the play is racist. If people don’t agree with you, then all they have to do is poke some credible, logical holes in the points you make and there you are – verdict of “Not racist”.

    If that strikes you as unfair, I’d remind you that it’s the bedrock of UK law, and that the law is like that for some very good and well-established reasons.

  73. modernityblog said,

    “You’ve got this the wrong way round – you’re making the accusation, so the onus is on you to prove that the play is racist. “

    Which I have already done, but there has been NO engagement with the totality of my points.

    Following my previous example, I could put *any* argument to a Thatcherite Tory on the welfare state and it wouldn’t be understood or received well.

    That would not detract from the merit of the argument, but the receptivity of the person receiving the argument.

    etc etc

  74. Harry said,

    Flying Rodent wrote:

    And yet, reading again, I try and fail to find most of the play objectionable, except on aesthetic terms.

    Here it is again, in case you missed it the first time around. From Anthony Julius:

    I had in mind the following lines, among others. “Tell her we killed the babies by mistake / Don’t tell her anything about the army.” “Tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.” “Tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out.” “Tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people.”

    In this play, Jews confess to lying to their own children and killing Palestinian children. They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself.

    How is that not objectionable? And why did so many people, the audiences you mention, miss it?

  75. Clive said,

    Flying rodent – are you seriously making the proposition that because most people are not apparently offended there is nothing to discuss?

    As a gay man, I can tell you that this line of argument is rather familiar. ‘Oh for god’s sake, stop being so sensitive, nobody’s homophobic any more, how twentieth century of you. When we say gay=bad we don’t mean like, *gay*….’

    One would have hoped that an intelligent person might make their own judgement. Especially if their opinions, generally, tend to fall into those of a minority.

    And especially since a big part of what’s at issue is precisely the concern that a member of the liberal intelligentsia can play with anti-semitic themes casually . That’s the whole point here, that anti-semitism has become something liberals and leftists don’t even see for what it is.

    If it’s not true that the play is anti-semitic, the proof will have to do a lot better than ‘most people haven’t thought so.’

  76. Harry said,

    Flying Rodent wrote:

    Well, I’m glad you’re so very confident in your opinion. You do seem to be in a huge minority on this re: people who have seen and read the play, but it’s certainly not impossible that practically all of those people are equally uncomprehending.

    Now apply that same logic to minstrel shows, passion plays, or even charlatans like Glen Beck.

    I’m not sure we should be dismissing criticism because it comes from the minority, likewise I don’t think the possibility of racism in Churchill’s play rests on the audience finding it objectionable. It could be the audience does not see antisemitism because it’s not there, but ignorance or even acceptance of antisemitism are also possible reasons for this failure to mention it.

  77. Stupid monikers will be deleted said,

    In these sort of conversations it always seems that the Israeli apologists regard the actual death of Palestinian kids to be, at best, background noise and the real issue being whether people’s description of those killings is “non racist” enough. If the Israeli apologists spent even 5% of the time they did attacking opponents of Israeli oppression on actually challenging the Israeli oppression itself (via its apartheid structure of occupation) then other people might take them a bit more seriously.

  78. flyingrodent said,

    In this play, Jews confess to lying to their own children and killing Palestinian children. They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself.

    How is that not objectionable?

    It would be objectionable, were that what the play is saying. Julius’s characterisation is so comically overblown, such a wilful misreading, that I find it hard to believe he isn’t intentionally bullshitting to bolster his thesis. Surely nobody here intends to dispute that that is absolutely the most extreme interpretation that could possibly be put on it? If it is, then why do it?

    The play is quite obviously depicting the most extreme wing of the settler movement, many of whom are precisely that indifferent and/or belligerent as regards the Palestinians. I hope nobody intends to dispute that either, by the way, since the hard right in Israel really is crammed with lunatics, much as it is elsewhere.

    The idea that the characterisation of an Israeli settler as being as wacky as many of them are in reality is somehow a slur on the Jewish people is insane, and not a little childish. It a) denies the existence of people who hold beliefs along those lines; people whose existence you are, in fact, aware of and it b) pretends that the author is applying those beliefs to an entire race of people, rather than to the small section of it that she’s very clearly addressing.

    Let’s be really clear on the killing children thing here, folks. The Israeli military killed hundreds of Lebanese children in the lunatic assault on Lebanon alone and plenty more Palestinian kids in Cast Lead. You may quibble that they didn’t mean it, but the Israeli government knew those deaths were a major risk when they ordered those operations, and they did it anyway, with predictable results.

    The attitudes to those deaths expressed by the settler character in that play – basically, from fuck ’em to kill ’em all may be a minority view in Israel, but they certainly exist. The pretence that addressing this reality represents some kind of awful smear is, frankly, cracked and deranged, and should be beneath you.

    The suggestion that it should be verboten to raise the hundreds of dead kids that result from these bombardments, because it’s like, racist and that, is simply a little too… How shall I put this? Politically convenient, I think.

    And why did so many people, the audiences you mention, miss it?

    Oh, how indeed. I imagine that they, like most people, might possess a sense of proportion, and don’t have the same political motivations.

    Really, I’m reminded of the bullshit furore around The Promise on Channel Four here. Strip away the howls and gnashing of teeth, and you’re left with the idea that it’s basically racist to depict the Israelis as the bad guys in any factual or fictional production. That looks like a hard sell to me, but best of luck.

    • Harry said,

      Flying Rodent wrote:

      The play is quite obviously depicting the most extreme wing of the settler movement, many of whom are precisely that indifferent and/or belligerent as regards the Palestinians. I hope nobody intends to dispute that either, by the way, since the hard right in Israel really is crammed with lunatics, much as it is elsewhere.

      Dave Rich and Mark Gardener actually address this issue in an article they wrote for the Guardian.

      The original text of the play does not specify the actual number of actors, nor who speaks which lines. There are no distinct characters: any Jew can speak any of the lines, in combination with any of the other lines, without distorting the narrative. This homogenising is bad enough, but the Guardian’s production goes a step further. By presenting the play with just a single performer, speaking every Jewish voice in each time and place, the Guardian distils the play into an internal conversation inside the head of every Jew – the increasingly manic neuroses of a screwed-up people.

      Here’s the link:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/01/carylchurchill-theatre

  79. flyingrodent said,

    …are you seriously making the proposition that because most people are not apparently offended there is nothing to discuss?

    I am not. The question was, if the racism in the play is so naked, so obvious and so brazen, then why are objections basically limited to a guardian columnist and a few blogs? If it’s the open and shut case Jim suggests, then why is the jury still out after more than two years? Open and shut cases earn that name for a reason, usually.

    I ask not because I think it shows the play as “definitely not racist”, but because I think the likely answers to such an obvious and reasonable question are probably going to be quite silly. If they’re as silly as I suspect they will be, then they should probably be aired sooner rather than later so that we can all get on with it.

  80. Rosie said,

    Well, Rodent, the objections were more than that. James Wood for one – about the best literary critic around.

    Those who go and see the play would tend to be those sympathetic to its message in the first place. It’s popular among pro-Palestinian activists – who are not people, to put it mildly, with very well developed antennae for ant-semitism.

    Those who are pro Israeli see antisemitism where it doesn’t exist. The “blood libel” thing seems to be daft. In that case you could never present Israelis’ armed forces killing children. I agree with you on that point.

    “After two years” – well, there hasn’t been continuous discussion in that period. The topic died down, as they mostly do, and has been resurrected because of the Freedland article.

    Alternatively, it’s also possible that you guys are wrong. I would say that the lack of complaint in wider society supports my reading and not yours, but who knows?

    The “wider society” doesn’t give a toss about this as anything else that happens in the theatre.

    Caryl Churchill’s own defences of her play are pretty weak – though authors of creative works are often the last people who can give an idea of what they have created. They know what they intended, but that is not what always comes out.

  81. Rosie said,

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2009/03/caryl-churchill-gaza-apos-s-shakespeare-or-fetid-jew-baiter/9823/

    “I don’t think it’s artistic. I think it’s polemical. I think it’s agitprop. And because it’s polemical and agitprop, I judge it differently. I judge it as a piece of politics, not as a piece of art. And as a piece of politics it’s dishonest.”

    Other people outside of a few blogs and an article in The Guardian who hated the play. – (Okay, it’s a blog, but on The Atlantic) .

  82. jim denham said,

    Rodent says: ” if the racism in the play is so naked, so obvious and so brazen…”

    It isn’t: that’s the point.

    Rodent: ” If it’s the open and shut case Jim suggests…”

    Where do I say that?

    Rodent (again): ” I’m reminded of the bullshit furore around The Promise on Channel Four here…”

    “Here” presumably meaning ‘Shiraz Socialist’? Well, *where* has anyone at ‘Shiraz Socialist’ written *anything* about ‘The Promise’, Rodent? Certainly none of our main posters, and (to thje best of my knowledge) no commenters, either.

    I think Rodent is a not very honest or scrupulous commentator – as well as one who has repeatedly refused to give an honest reponse to straightforward questions about his own politics.

  83. flyingrodent said,

    .“After two years” – well, there hasn’t been continuous discussion in that period.

    I’d suggest that when the accusations are this serious – and accusing people of disseminating antisemitic Nazi propaganda is about as serious as it gets, a fact that seems to pass a lot of people by – that continuous discussion wouldn’t be necessary.

    I’m also not moved by the idea that this isn’t a bigger story because of the make-up of the audience, or because the theatre is a minority interest. The accusations are highly newsworthy, if true, and they couldn’t be clearer.

    The topic died down, as they mostly do, and has been resurrected because of the Freedland article.

    Given my internet haunts, I’ve certainly seen plenty over the period, and I think I’ve said nothing about it up until now because there’s little more infuriating and pointless than arguing word-meanings with angry sentence-parsers. Bluntly, most of the chatter I’ve seen about the play insists that the play is obviously racist, because it is.

    Caryl Churchill’s own defences of her play are pretty weak.

    I’m surprised she’s even so much as written a letter. If one of the country’s leading authorities on antisemitism accuses you of producing inflammatory, Nazi-level racist propaganda on evidence that’s this flimsy, you’ve got two options, as I see it, – a) make him prove it in court, and blast him into space dust with great fireballs of litigation if he can’t or b) shut the hell up and let the bloggers ramble in obscurity.

    As the thread above shows, there’s absolutely no winning this kind of argument with non-legal letters and public statements. Even if she’d issued a seventeen-point rebuttal – and she’s under no obligation at all to do that – you’d still have a horde of bloggers pounding their fists and insisting that she’s totally racist, because people just don’t get it.

  84. flyingrodent said,

    “Here” means “At this place and time” rather than “On your website”, Jimbo.

  85. jim denham said,

    Rodent: “Here” means “At this place and time” rather than “On your website”, Jimbo.”

    Your understanding of the English language is obviously quite different to mine, Rodent. And your answers to my other points?

  86. Rosie said,

    I’m surprised she’s even so much as written a letter. If one of the country’s leading authorities on antisemitism accuses you of producing inflammatory, Nazi-level racist propaganda on evidence that’s this flimsy, you’ve got two options, as I see it, – a) make him prove it in court, and blast him into space dust with great fireballs of litigation if he can’t or b) shut the hell up and let the bloggers ramble in obscurity.

    I take it you’re referring to Anthony Julius (of whom I’m not a huge fan, btw). What he says in his letter to The Guardian:- “”In Trials of the Diaspora, I argue that Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children is antisemitic. “”

    I haven’t read his book, but is it there that he calls her play “inflammatory, Nazi-level racist propaganda”? Or is that your hyperbolic interpretation of what he says? I wouldn’t describe it like that myself, though I do think it’s a-s. There are degrees of a-s as of any racism, from jokes to outright genocide.

    As far as “proving it in court” – is that possible? It’s a work of fiction, not history as written by David Irvine. It’s open to various interpretations – as has been shown in this thread. You would end up with a rather grotesque parade of experts as in The Lady Chatterley trial.

    • Harry said,

      Rosie wrote:

      I wouldn’t describe it like that myself, though I do think it’s a-s. There are degrees of a-s as of any racism, from jokes to outright genocide.

      The article I linked to earlier from Dave Rich and Mark Gardner of CST touches on that point. They write:

      The virus of antisemitism is easily transmitted by those who are not aware they are carrying it. Churchill almost certainly does not intend it, but her play culminates in powerful antisemitic resonances.

      • flyingrodent said,

        That’s a fair point, and worth looking out for. Again, though, I reckon that Hollywood would be out of business in about thirty seconds if their output were subject to this kind of inkblot test.

  87. flyingrodent said,

    Yeah, that’s the one, and yes, that’s my interpretation, deeply unfair as it is. I was thinking of his reduction of the play to They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself. Which seems to me to be roughly as fair a characterisation of the play as I am to him.

    As far as “proving it in court” – is that possible?

    If I’d had half the abuse that Churchill has, I’d be tempted to find out.

  88. Rosie said,

    If I’d had half the abuse that Churchill has, I’d be tempted to find out.

    You are far too modest. The abuse directed at Churchill is a drop in the ocean compared to what you get over the blogosphere.

    • flyingrodent said,

      Well, I do try my best.

  89. Sarah AB said,

    Flyringrodent – I think that sometimes the a/s of Churchill’s play is described as though it was rather more obvious than it actually is, and that can make people who didn’t see it as a/s not bother to think about it further or think those who do think it a/s are either neurotic or dishonest.

    I think the a/s is *comparatively* subtle (and may of course not be the writer’s intention, the point about transmitting a virus is a useful image). To make just one point – there is nothing obviously a/s about the fact the play begins with a child being killed (probably) in the Holocaust and ends with babies dying in Gaza. Yet that implies a symmetry, and also feeds into that idea that the voices can be seen as standing for a people who have been treated badly and have now, like a victim of child abuse, become the oppressors. (And whatever CC says the lack of proper characters does invite that kind of more symbolic reading I think.) Here’s a telling snippet from some publicity material.

    “Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza by acclaimed playwright Caryl Churchill. What do you tell a child when her government is trying to kill her? What do you tell a child when her government is killing other children?”

    http://www.liverpoolnetworktheatre.org.uk/news.htm

    It’s like a Jacobean revenge play where the victim turns into the villain.

  90. skidmarx said,

    And perhaps Israel is the villain in real life? What do you think Palestinians would say if asked “who killed your kids in Gaza”?

  91. modernity said,

    Sarah,

    Could you tell me something please?

    What is the purpose of engaging in an exchange of views with the “Anti-Zionists” here, who have expressly made it clear that they have not read the play, or are not too interested in antiracism,?

    If they’re not troubled to read the play then how can they intelligently comment on it?

    And if they’re not troubled to make the elementary effort to read the play then why engage them? They see NO anti-Jewish racism period.

  92. Rosie said,

    I think Rodent is a not very honest or scrupulous commentator – as well as one who has repeatedly refused to give an honest reponse to straightforward questions about his own politics.

    Rodent’s politics are part tail twisting, and part anti-pro American imperialism or anti-anti-anti American imperialism.

  93. Rosie said,

    FlyingRodent@ March 9, 2011 11:51 am

    the play’s been performed countless times across the country, yet complaints are largely restricted to a few blogs. If the racism in the play is so utterly stark and clearly blatant, how come it’s only a tiny gaggle of internet types who have noticed?

    Yes, total nonentities like Julius Anthony,Howard Jacobson, James Wood and Norman Geras, whose readership is the blog standard of 30 or so a day.
    .

  94. modernityblog said,

    I’m a bit lost here, why do highly educated graduates. such as flyingrodent and others, have a tendency to advance known fallacies?

    Surely, when they received their expensive education they would have learnt that an appeal to authority, or appeal to popularity is not necessarily the best indicator of an argument’s validity?

    Yet these are precisely the type of arguments that they advance.

    They seem to avoid direct answers or making a forceable point, ie “I believe it isn’t racism because….”.

    Instead their sizeable intellects are wasted on even nitpicking, avoiding the central arguments or advancing fallacies.

    It seems to be all a game to them.

    But what a terrible waste of an education?

  95. SteveH said,

    The central point is that someone in the West is making art that highlights the sorry plight of the Palestinians at the hands of Israel and that a whole machine has kicked into gear to suppress it.

    Defend art and free expression against this malicious campaign.

  96. modernityblog said,

    The issue is fairly simple, racism.

    Can the “Anti-Zionists” here see anything racist in a play which explicitly attacks Jews?

    Apparently not.

    That is the issue, the blindness, the conscious and wilful blindness to anti-Jewish racism amongst the “Anti-Zionists” here.

    That is the issue.

  97. SteveH said,

    No the issue is the continuing plight of the Palestinians at the hands of the racist state of Israel, and the suppression of criticism by the machine that defends it.

  98. modernity said,

    So SteveH, you excuse anti-Jewish racism, that is it.

    You find a pretext and an excuse and you excuse anti-Jewish racism.

    That’s your politics, the politics of the far right.

  99. Sarah AB said,

    Modernity – in answer to your question above – I suppose I like to give people the benefit of the doubt – and I also hope that if people think/read about some of these issues a bit more they might at least understand why some people, for example, think 7JC is antisemitic even if they don’t fully agree. It is, admittedly, pretty thankless to argue with someone who thinks you are part of a ‘machine’ though.

  100. SteveH said,

    “It is, admittedly, pretty thankless to argue with someone who thinks you are part of a ‘machine’ though.”

    Whereas arguing with people who believe you are part of the Hitler youth is fine!

    Incidentally Sarah, do you find it hard being so ‘reasonable’?

    • Sarah AB said,

      ‘do you find it hard being so “reasonable”‘. No, but it doesn’t seem to be working, does it? I’ll have to suggest to Mossad that they upgrade my chip.

  101. modernity said,

    Sarah,

    I am sorry, but where racism is concerned why do we need to equivocate?

    Why do we need to assume the best?

    For example, if the play was called Seven Black children, then “blamed Africans for slavery, went on about monkeys, made a point about lack of civilisation, etc etc” we wouldn’t hesitate to see the origins of the racism there.

    But as others have pointed out, when the object of that racism is Jews, another set of criteria are applied.

    It’s not academic thinking and it certainly isn’t antiracism.

  102. modernity said,

    Sarah,

    The truth is that people like SteveH are more like Mel Gibson, than they know.

    They share his paranoia, his need to lash out and his choice of blame.

  103. Rosie said,

    Could SteveH elaborate on this “machine”. Is it a conscious conspiracy? Well funded perhaps?

  104. modernityblog said,

    Rosie,

    Elaborate? Please!

    Sometimes it makes you wonder if the “Anti-Zionists” here can even tie up their shoelaces.

    They are singly inarticulate.

    You get the impression they want to say something, almost bursting, to say something, yet they know what they will say is obnoxious, so their speech is often peppered with euphemisms, obfuscation and their own private language.

    If you’ve ever argued with a bigot in a pub you will notice the similarities, the repetitious arguments, the inability to engage with the issues and the love of the irrational, that’s what the “Anti-Zionists” here demonstrate.

    • skidmarx said,

      You are uniquely too funny for words sometimes.

  105. SteveH said,

    “Could SteveH elaborate on this “machine”.”

    A network of people who are ready to respond on behalf of Israel when any criticism is thrown its way. This site, commenters such as Modernity are part of this I would say, though they are at the outer reaches of this machine. There is a need to create a counter machine by anti Zionists, this is increasingly happening.

    Sarah,

    your ‘reasonableness’ doesn’t work because it so obviously false! Modernity has repeatedly accused people of being members of the far right, comparing us with countless racist wacko’s and you pick up on the word machine!

    More art that documents the plight of the Palestinians please, especially from the mainstream. They are remarkably quiet on the subject I have to say.

    • skidmarx said,

      This might fit the bill, also containing the line about new Israeli legislation against acknowledging the expulsion of Palestinians in the Nakba “The law effectively criminalises the right of the Palestinian people to remember.” Actually while we’re on the subject, modernity was asked on Dave Osler’s blog a while back if he believed the Nakba had taken place and if he agreed it was genocide, but never seemed to get round to answering. Perhaps he’d like to answer now.

  106. Rosie said,

    So is the critic James Wood part of this network?

  107. SteveH said,

    “So is the critic James Wood part of this network?”

    I would say not but I don’t really know. But that is irrelevant, clearly a Network kicks into gear when criticism of Israel surfaces. And in the case of Churchill’s play that has happened, and it was inevitable.

    A question back to you Rosie, “Why is mainstream art so quiet on the plight of the Palestinians?” You would think with art being about empathy and things like that the Palestinian issue would be furtile ground for artistic types.

  108. Clive said,

    SteveH: “someone in the West is making art that highlights the sorry plight of the Palestinians at the hands of Israel and that a whole machine has kicked into gear to suppress it.

    Defend art and free expression against this malicious campaign.”

    This expresses a big part of the problem. ‘A whole machine has kicked into gear to suppress it.’ What machine? What are you talking about? Do you not even faintly glimmer the thing that this sentiment echoes?

    And who’s suppressing it? Who is questioning Churchill’s right to free expression?

  109. SteveH said,

    “Who is questioning Churchill’s right to free expression?”

    In this country, directly no one probably. Indirectly the ‘machine’ will make others think twice about producing art that is thought provoking because they will fear the hassle involved. Others will be put off investing in such projects. We should be minded of indirect coercion.

    “What are you talking about? Do you not even faintly glimmer the thing that this sentiment echoes?”

    The machine that swings into military like action when criticism of Israel is aired. I am aware this could cunjure up images of Jews controlling the world but that is not what is intended and not what I believe. As I said at the start of this thread many many Jews are anti Israel and most Zionists are not Jews. But the ‘machine’ (call it what you want) is a reality and reality cannot be ignored. My belief is that a counter machine needs to grow and is growing.

    These ‘machines’ are not limited to Zionists, they exist everywhere. A machine defending neo liberalism (think tanks, academics etc) has sprung up alongside actual neo liberal policies.

    Part of any resistance is understanding and developing strategies to counter these machines. Pretending they don’t exist is not an option.

  110. Clive said,

    SteveH, this could, frankly, hardly be a more evasive comment. “In this country, directly no one probably…” So – what?

    “The ‘machine’ [ in quotes now] will make others think twice about producing art that is thought provoking because they will fear the hassle…”

    Giving you the benefit of the doubt, that you mean ‘thought-provoking’ about Israel and the Palestinians, rather than in general

    a) if people have to ‘think twice’ about potentially controversial statements about “Jews”, even you think Churchill has done nothing wrong herself, how is that a bad thing?

    b) Anyone would think she was the first person to ‘speak out’ against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, artist or otherwise. What planet do you live on?

    This whole image, that anti-Israeli argument and polemic is routinely and effectively silenced by a ‘machine’ which accuses critics of anti-semitism seems to me wildly absurd. On the contrary, the sentiments expressed by Churchill in the play seem to me the uninterrogated *common ground* of most of the liberal intelligentsia/theatre-going public.

  111. Rosie said,

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/feb/11/seven-jewish-children

    “Churchill, I’m sure, would not deny the existence of fierce external, and internal, Jewish opposition to the attack on Gaza. What she captures, in remarkably condensed poetic form, is the transition that has overtaken Israel, to the point where security has become the pretext for indiscriminate slaughter. Avoiding overt didacticism, her play becomes a heartfelt lamentation for the future generations who will themselves become victims of the attempted military suppression of Hamas. Performed by nine actors, under Dominic Cooke’s brisk, clear direction, the play solves nothing, but shows theatre’s power to heighten consciousness and articulate moral outrage.”

    Yes, getting that kind of 4 star review in The Guardian is bound to put any artist off writing plays about the plight of the Palestinians. Churchill got a roasting in The Times, but I doubt she would care about that – what else would you expect from the Murdoch press.? Churchill wouldn’t care if Fox News denounced her, or the Israeli government denounced her, or Jonathan Sacks denounced her. She writes for the left-liberal theatre goer – the sort of person who goes to the Royal Court theatre – so to say that the various reactions from this mysterious “machine” of yours puts off other artists is absurd. A highly pro-Israel piece wouldn’t have a chance of being put on there. Her play has been received rapturously in the quarters she cares about and is performed all over the world. Most playwrights would love that kind of fame and audience.

    (Clive – I see you’ve anticipated me with your answer)

    As for your question to me:-

    “Why is mainstream art so quiet on the plight of the Palestinians?” You would think with art being about empathy and things like that the Palestinian issue would be furtile ground for artistic types.”

    I can’t answer what “mainstream art” is doing or not doing about the plight of the Palestinians. I can think of My Name is Rachel Corrie and The Promise off the top of my head but haven’t seen either. I would guess though that eg at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival a few plays/ performances would have dealt with this subject just as South Africa used to be a popular topic.

  112. Clive said,

    I’m afraid I can’t help adding my own thoughts to Rosie’s on ‘mainstream art’.

    What do you think, SteveH? Do you think there are throngs of ‘mainstream’ playwrights, film-makers, visual artists, etc, who would be making work about the plight of the Palestinians were it not for their fear of the ‘machine’? Well, why aren’t they making work about the plight of the Kurds? Or the oppressed Christian minority in Egypt, say? Machines there, too, are there?

    • Rosie said,

      Clive – Steve will think our broad agreement with each other is because we’re two cogs in this machine of his.

  113. Sarah AB said,

  114. Shachtman said,

    SteveH “The machine that swings into military like action when criticism of Israel is aired. I am aware this could cunjure up images of Jews controlling the world but that is not what is intended and not what I believe”

    You need help Steve, seriously. Don’t forget to look under the bed before you go to sleep Steve.

    You’re a fucking nutter ! End of.

  115. Shachtman said,

    SteveH “most Zionists are not Jews”

    There’s not that many Jews in the world Steve so it would hardly be surprising.

    There’s an old joke

    Two elderly Jews sitting in a Berlin park, with one of them reading a Yiddish paper and the other one scanning the pages of Der Stürmer. The latter Jew is laughing. This proves too much for the former Jew, who says: “It’s not enough you read that Nazi rag, but you find it funny?” “Look,” replies the other. “If I read your paper, what do I see? Jews deported, Jews assaulted, Jews insulted, Jewish property confiscated. But I read Der Stürmer, and there’s finally some good news. It seems that we Jews own and control the whole world!

  116. jim denham said,

    SteveH, responding to questions put to him on this blog:

    ***********************************************************************************

    (Q) “Who is questioning Churchill’s right to free expression?”

    (A) In this country, directly no one probably. Indirectly the ‘machine’ will make others think twice about producing art that is thought provoking because they will fear the hassle involved. Others will be put off investing in such projects. We should be minded of indirect coercion.

    (Q) “What are you talking about? Do you not even faintly glimmer the thing that this sentiment echoes?”

    (A) The machine that swings into military like action when criticism of Israel is aired. I am aware this could cunjure up images of Jews controlling the world but that is not what is intended and not what I believe. As I said at the start of this thread many many Jews are anti Israel and most Zionists are not Jews. But the ‘machine’ (call it what you want) is a reality and reality cannot be ignored. My belief is that a counter machine needs to grow and is growing.

    These ‘machines’ are not limited to Zionists, they exist everywhere. A machine defending neo liberalism (think tanks, academics etc) has sprung up alongside actual neo liberal policies.

    Part of any resistance is understanding and developing strategies to counter these machines. Pretending they don’t exist is not an option.

    ****************************************************************************************

    …this is a mental health issue, isn’t it?

  117. modernityblog said,

    No, Jim,

    SteveH just thinking racist thoughts (conspiracy theories about “Zionists”), there are many people that have mental health issues but they don’t come out with SteveH’s shite.

    He’s just working his way to the Far Right, just a matter of time.

    David Irving believes that soft of stuff too.

  118. Rosie said,

    This whole image, that anti-Israeli argument and polemic is routinely and effectively silenced by a ‘machine’ which accuses critics of anti-semitism seems to me wildly absurd.

    On the contrary, the sentiments expressed by Churchill in the play seem to me the uninterrogated *common ground* of most of the liberal intelligentsia/theatre-going public.

    It’s the herd of independent minds again, the flock of the rebellious and unorthodox.

  119. SteveH said,

    If we take the closest example of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians, namely Apartheid South Africa, we can see that mainstream art dealt with that subject intensely. So I think we have to ask why the plight of the Palestinians is different. I don’t think it is an unreasonable question. My concern is that the hassle people have to go through when dealing with this subject will make people think twice about it and stop people documenting the plight of the Palestinians. I mention the mainstream because this is where mass collective consciouness is managed. Now it is not all bad, an anti Zionist machine is growing I think. Hopefully it will grow stronger than the Zionist machine. There are signs that this could be happening as technology (the internet basically) democratises the public space (in the Habermas sense of the word) and weakens the power of the mainstream.

    I take on board the point that dark skinned people being abused in whatever form isn’t exactly box office but that raises more questions I guess.

    The hysterical denial that indirect coercion exists is really really telling.

    The reason I put machione in quotes is because that is the term I give it. Others may call it a lobby, or a network. Whatever it is, it exists and to deny it is to deny the truth. But then I guess Israeli apologists have an interest in denying the truth with an avalanche of lies – something the Zionist machine does very effictively.

  120. charliethechulo said,

    Is it worth engaging with this anti-semitic loon any longer? Should we just ban him?

  121. SteveH said,

    ChuChuTrain,

    You still haven’t answered my question here:

    https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/unite-labour-councils-and-the-cuts/

  122. Rosie said,

    No, don’t ban him, Jim. He really is a great exemplar of how defending the plight of Palestinians, which of course is a fine thing to do, can often turn people into totally crazed Zionist entity believing nutters.

    SteveH – if you say that creative artists have been thwarted from producing works on Palestine by this “lobby” or “machine” you have to produce some evidence. Has any one artist of any significance or ability said “I shall not make films/write/paint pictures/sing songs about Palestine because I’ll get too much hassle? I don’t mean the talentless who love to think they are overlooked because of their daring beliefs, I mean people like, say, Ken Loach, or Tom Paulin who have some talent and credibility.

    By the way your theory of “dark skinned people making bad box office” is rather contradicted by the popularity of anti-apartheid films, plays, books etc in the past.

  123. SteveH said,

    “No, don’t ban him, Jim”

    How libertarian of you.

    “He really is a great exemplar of how defending the plight of Palestinians, which of course is a fine thing to do”

    Yes of course it is, you should try it sometime.

    “can often turn people into totally crazed Zionist entity believing nutters.”

    Thanks, trun your opponents into crazed, illogical, rabid racists in order to avoid adrdressing issues. That is another common trait among the Zionist machine or Lobby or Entity (as you call it) etc etc.

    “if you say that creative artists have been thwarted from producing works on Palestine by this “lobby” or “machine” you have to produce some evidence”

    The lack of art (particularly mainstream) relating to the plight of the Palestinians. Though I am saying this could be a barrier but not just to artists but also investors. That is probably a more crucial point when dealing with the mainstream. This is the pojnt I made to Modernity earlier, we should defend Churchill from these attacks, we should defend free expression and more than that we should look to critique the bourgeois meaning of the word and attack indirect aswell as direct coercion/attack on freedom fo expression.

    “By the way your theory of “dark skinned people making bad box office” is rather contradicted by the popularity of anti-apartheid films, plays, books etc in the past.”

    It isn’t a theory just an observation. I agree with you on the anti apartheid films, so why are no films that are critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians?

  124. modernity said,

    charliethechulo,

    Please don’t ban SteveH, yet.

    I think it is useful to scratch beneath his rhetoric and reveal the paranoia that fuels his racist conspiracy theories.

    You will notice that the “Anti-Zionists” here have been very reluctant to comment on the racism in Churchill’s play?

    The reason being, they don’t *care* about anti-Jewish racism, it means nothing to them.

    So when you openly discuss these issues with them, they really disclose their true feelings you will see that racism is not far from the surface.

    The smarter “Anti-Zionists” here know to keep quiet.

    They know if they open up we won’t like what we see, so they hide it, play games, etc etc

    Therefore, I think SteveH should be allowed to spout off, show how he’s not too dissimilar from David Irving (who as well believes in “Jewish influence” etc) as an example of what antiracists have to deal with

    He’s a case study in racism, what to look out for, and what to avoid.

  125. SteveH said,

    “I think SteveH should be allowed to spout off, show how he’s not too dissimilar from David Irving”

    So I spout off irrationally and I am a member of the Nazi right. Oh, OK if you say so.

    “The smarter “Anti-Zionists” here know to keep quiet.”

    Only because they have the sense not to engage with a dickhead like you. I wish I had that discipline. Maybe my Nazi friends can help me out in that regard. I’ll give Dave Irving a call.

  126. Sarah AB said,

    I think there may have been peaceful demonstrations against 7JC, but as far as I know people haven’t sought to ban it, although there have been objections to the Guardian showing it on their website. But Israeli artists and speakers are regularly disrupted by anti-zionist activists. I’m not sure if it is precise to call Steve far right or racist – but he is one of those people whose anti-zionism, which may stem from sympathy for Palestinians primarily, seems to lead to a indifference or blindness to a/s as well as to an unhealthily conspiratorial mindset. I feel sympathy for the Palestinians and blogged here just a couple of days ago

    http://hurryupharry.org/2011/03/11/mahmoud-jabaris-arrest/

    about a young photojournalist, with whom I have been in correspondence though I haven’t discussed this particular event with him, who was arrested, and apparently treated roughly and then kept in prison for several days without access to a lawyer.

  127. Rosie said,

    But Israeli artists and speakers are regularly disrupted by anti-zionist activists.

    Good point, Sarah. I was forgetting about that orchestra at the Edinburgh festival.

    BTW I wonder if Steve H knows how insulting he is being by calling various critics and bloggers who have come to their (differing) evaluations of 7JC part of a “machine”.

    he is one of those people whose anti-zionism, which may stem from sympathy for Palestinians primarily, seems to lead to a indifference or blindness to a/s as well as to an unhealthily conspiratorial mindset.

    Yes.

  128. SteveH said,

    “as well as to an unhealthily conspiratorial mindset.”

    Oh please. I don’t believe in fake moon landings or the illuminati. You are denying what is an observable truth. What mindset is that – fundamentalist?

    “I’m not sure if it is precise to call Steve far right or racist”

    Oh how wonderfully reasonable of you.

    For the record I regard myself as a Marxist in the council communism tradition but if you want to call me a far right racist fine. If you swim in the swamp you have to expect a bit of shit now and again.

  129. Clive said,

    Steve H: “It’s the herd of independent minds again, the flock of the rebellious and unorthodox.”

    If I understand you, you’re sarcastically mocking the idea that to criticise Churchill makes you ‘independent’ and ‘unorhodox’.

    For myself, I don’t care. But if you think being taken to side with Israel makes you friends in artistic circles, well, it doesn’t.

    But – and this is the core of all this, it seems to me – isn’t it revealing that criticising Churchill *Is* taken to be siding with Israel? That’s what this whole argument is about: that if you say you think there’s anti-semitic undertone to some anti-Zionism immediately you are jumped on as an apologist for Israel.

    My own experience, without question, is that ‘the herd’ on the liberal left is ‘anti-Zionist’.

  130. SteveH said,

    “Steve H: “It’s the herd of independent minds again, the flock of the rebellious and unorthodox.””

    I didn’t say this Rosie did so to answer your question:

    “If I understand you, you’re sarcastically mocking the idea that to criticise Churchill makes you ‘independent’ and ‘unorhodox’.”

    No! I will not take advantage of this slip as I don’t believe in kicking a man when he is down.

    “For myself, I don’t care. But if you think being taken to side with Israel makes you friends in artistic circles, well, it doesn’t.”

    Still doesn’t answer why the mainstream steers clear of the issue. Maybe the problem is with investors?

    “That’s what this whole argument is about: that if you say you think there’s anti-semitic undertone to some anti-Zionism immediately you are jumped on as an apologist for Israel.”

    Though there is a danger of that I would say 2 things, 1. When someone becomes a champion of the Palestinians they are pilloried with lies and must be defended. And in this case we are defending a play that highlights the plight of the Palestinians and 2. They usually are apologists for Israel, this is the problem and why it is hard to take what they say seriously.

    “My own experience, without question, is that ‘the herd’ on the liberal left is ‘anti-Zionist’.”

    I hate the word ‘herd’, it comes from a Social Darwinist tradition of apology for the ruling class.

  131. Clive said,

    Ah yes, my apologies.

    But I’m not down, love. And I’m sorry, Caryl Churchill, admirable playwright though I sometimes think she is, is not a ‘champion of the Palestinians’ who is being ‘pilloried’. The entire image is in your own head. She is a member of the *liberal establishment* – a very prominent, very important member of it – who has been criticised for a thin, unimpressive (at least on the page, I haven’t seen it performed) play – actually more of a poem – which lacks even the slightest sense that she understands any of the issues.

    There are lots of reasons investors won’t put up the money for, say, films. The prospect of headline-grabbing controversy is not one of them.

  132. Rosie said,

    we should defend Churchill from these attacks, we should defend free expression and more than that we should look to critique the bourgeois meaning of the word and attack indirect aswell as direct coercion/attack on freedom fo expression.

    How is Churchill’s free expression being threatened? By any criticism of her works? Or do you think “criticism” = “attack on free speech”. A kind of commissar mind set that.

    • skidmarx said,

      I see from this weeks Jewish Chronicle a lot of demand from pro-Israelis that “The Promise” be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.

  133. SteveH said,

    “How is Churchill’s free expression being threatened?”

    I have said why already and it is not so much Churchill but the atmosphere/environment that artists have to work in. There is a real pro Zionist network/machine/entity/whatever that specialises in character assasination of anyone who takes up the Palestinian cause. My concern is that some artists/investors will be put off tackiling this subject as a result. Also we should recognise indirect curtailment of freedom of speech, expression, association etc as a general criticism of bourgeois freedoms.

    My hope is that the democratisition of public space (in the Habermas sense of the word) will challenge mainstream ideas/monopolies.

    As I said earlier,

    “Part of any resistance is understanding and developing strategies to counter these machines. Pretending they don’t exist is not an option.”

    My only qualification would be that these counter forces/machines/lobbies/entities/? would refrain from the barrage of lies that usually accompany propagandistic forces/machines/lobbies/entities/?.

    The signs for this are I have to admit less than encouraging.

  134. charliethechulo said,

    Anti-semitic conspiracy theorist.

  135. modernity said,

    Racists often like to re-define the terms of any debate to focus on their pet hatreds.

    So it is with SteveH, instead of coming out unequivocally against anti-Jewish racism he tries a distraction.

    SteveH, like the other “anti-Zionists” here, won’t come out against anti-Jewish racism

    That is a FACT.

    The rest is merely deflections and irrelevances.

  136. SteveH said,

    “Racists often like to re-define the terms ”

    So do scientists.

  137. modernityblog said,

    In many ways it is sad but fascinating to see how the “Anti-Zionists” here are so wedded to conspiracy theories and paranoia that they can’t see the existence of anti-Jewish racism in society.

    It is noticeable that a few of them have even taken to reading the Jewish Chronicle, which will presumably amplify their fears and hatreds.

    It will be far better if they spent their time reading the CST reports on physical attacks on Jews in Britain, which is a consequence of the heightened and negative attitudes towards Jews, which Churchill’s play contributes to…

    Here’s an extract:

    http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=2302

    “Today, CST releases its Antisemitic Incidents Report 2010, which can be downloaded from the CST website (pdf).

    The report shows that CST recorded 639 antisemitic incidents across the UK last year, the seond-highest annual total since CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984. This is 31% down on 2009, which was to be expected as 2009 saw a record high number of incidents due to antisemitic reactions to the Gaza conflict. However, it is 17% more than the 2008 figure of 546 antisemitic incidents, and continues the decade-long trend of rising antisemitic incident levels.

    In addition to the 639 antisemitic incidents, CST received reports of a further 372 incidents that, on investigation, did not appear to be antisemitic and so were not included in the annual total. These 372 non-antisemitic incidents mainly consisted of criminal activity affecting Jewish people or property, suspicious behaviour at Jewish locations and anti-Israel activity that was not antisemitic. “

  138. modernity said,

    SteveH,

    Do you think there is any similarity between your views and those of David Irving?

  139. Who challenges the challengers? « Shiraz Socialist said,

    […] to Ian Hislop of Private Eye.  It’s an infection going round at the moment, so, for instance, a blog conversation about why Seven Jewish Children is a bit dodgy will soon have accusations of networks, lobbies, […]

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