The recent kerfuffle over the short play Seven Jewish
Children predictably brought out the worst in the rightist organisations which
rule the roost in the Jewish community. They specialise in several
methods of political assasination of views it does not like 1) attack the
messenger and get personal to divert attention from the message or action
being taken 2) take no prisoners (they grew up admiring Daleks).
Two of the AJDS executive had letters in the Jewish News,
and the last writer also had an opinion piece on the Liberty Victoria website.
From the Australian Jewish News Letters of 29 May 2009.
Most people probably understand anti-Semitism to be a form
of racism and therefore something can be racist without being anti-Semitic, but
not anti-Semitic without being racist.
Yet in recent times, some argue that when criticism of
into unreasonable vilification, including the questioning or denial of its
right to exist, such anti-Israel sentiment also falls within the ambit of
This wider definition seems unnecessary, because the extreme
ends of the political debates are rigid, ideological and outside the area of advocacy
and, in any case, are often accompanied by unmistakable anti-Semitism.
But the broadening of the definition of anti-Semitism allows
a play such as Seven Jewish Children to be tagged as anti-Semitic even though
it is not racist.
The political benefit of this argument for the play’s
detractors is clear. Since most people associate anti-Semitism with racism, the
whiff of racism is attached to the play. But the downside is that the meaning
of the word anti-Semitism is devalued and politicised, and will no longer
convey the serious accusation of racism.
Perhaps it is time to abandon “anti-Semitism” to the lexicon
of propaganda like “Zionism” before it, and unambiguously describe good
old-fashioned anti-Semitism as racism.
DEAR me, having seen two versions of Seven Jewish Children
on YouTube, I must conclude: it’s a brilliant piece of theatre.
Because Caryl Churchill has captured so much of what so many
of us have lived with all our lives: sadness and fear of the Holocaust a desire
to guard our children at all costs and pride yet contradictory feelings about
And now, for some of us, that a continuing existential fear
has completely blinded us to what has happened in
and elsewhere, notwithstanding the
horrors perpetrated by terrorists.
What has made so many people angry is that Australians For
Palestine staged a coup rather than it being performed by a Jewish theatre
If it had been performed in Caulfield, it would have been
praised for its brilliance in highlighting fault lines in