Sunday, February 20, 2011

Anti-Israel indoctrination in the UK

If you need to know the depth to which the British media has indoctrinated the public with anti-Israel feelings, then I can give no better example than the following:

My daughter, who goes to an orthodox Jewish school, tells me that, when the subject of Israel is discussed in their Jewish studies GCSE class, students routinely state things like "the Jews have no right to Israel because they stole the land from the Palestinians". 

In making statements like that, those regular 15-16 year old Jewish kids, are simply repeating what they are told relentlessly in every part of the media (as I have regularly reported on this web). In the midst of the big story of revolution across the entire Arab world (funny how the media is suddenly realising that these Arab countries were abusing their citizens for decades - they have been telling us all along that Israel  is the pariah state in the region) the BBC and Channel 4 has gone into overdrive ... to demonize Israel. Just a few examples of the anti-Israel tsunami engulfing British TV, in the last few days alone we have had:

 The relentless propaganda seems to be affecting just about everybody I know. It has got to the stage where even strongly pro-Israeli friends are unwittingly accepting anti-Israel bias as perfectly acceptable. I'd like to recount a very good example of this. The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond is currently showing a play called 'Reading Hebron' about the massacre carried out in 1994 by a Jew. The Artistic Director of this theatre, Sam Walters, clearly has a problem with Israel because in his own words (I have the email) two of the three 'political' plays he has put on in the last year have been about Israel and both were highly critical (the other was about the Balfour declaration). For these 'political' plays Walters arranges a public workshop to discuss the political content.  For 'Reading Hebron' this workshop was, sensitively, arranged for a Saturday when no orthodox Jews can attend. However, Walters has arranged for discussions to take place after some of the showings during the week. That brings me to my pro-Israeli friend Joe. He went along to the play and after-show discussion and sent an email about it. I have taken the liberty of reproducing below exactly what Joe wrote because, although he feels very satisfied with the outcome there are aspects of what he says that deeply disturb me:

I went yesterday. Was delighted, as were most of the Jews in the audience, that the discussion afterwards did not become an Arab/Israeli debate. One person did speak out (pro-Palestinian) and tried to make it political...and the audience (vast vast vast majority being non-Jewish Richmondites - retirees who enjoy theatre) were annoyed by his trying to turn a theatrical performance into a political debate. So it actually worked against him...and, to a limited extent, for Israel! The Director - rightly in my view - said that the post-show discussion was to discuss the play NOT the politics (which will be discussed on the Sat "workshop" - which is the only thing I have real issue with). Of the Jews present, most were from Wimbledon Reform - primarily as one of their members was one of the key characters.

Most of the discussion - as it should have been - was about the play itself, its staging and the characters portrayed.

I did find much of the content disturbing - although relieved that (albeit in short supply) the counter-arguments were also made within the text - and certain scenes I was slightly offended by (then again, I suppose the author has the right to write what he wants). Viewed as a piece of theatre...it did its job well. It was thought provoking. My guess is that it would only be the real "self-hating Jews" (those who can see nothing good in what Israel does) and the "blind Jews" (those who can only see the good in Israel and are not prepared to consider the other side) that would have any major issue with the production...in part because it revolves around one character who is obviously a troubled individual (in his personal life) and his political stance is obviously fuelled by other life issues rather than being a rational political stance.

It's not enjoyable theatre...but it is good theatre. I didn't emerge invigorated. I wasn't pushed to the left or the right as a result. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the post-show discussion. I was proud that there were no counter-productive rants. I was thrilled that the one radical view expressed was from the other side (and the mutterings I overheard as people left the theatre were all about the show and that one "idiot")...

Here are the things that disturb me about what he wrote

  • He completely misses the whole context of what is going on here. Terrible massacres have been carried out on a daily basis by Muslim terrorists - often supported by governments - for decades. Take a look here at a log of all terrorist attacks in recent decades; for example, since 9/11 alone there have been 16,839 deadly attacks by Muslims. Terrible massacres are also carried out routinely in many countries of the world.  Israel has especially been the victim of terrorist attacks (indeed there were several massacres against Israelis in the days immediately prior to what happened in Hebron). Hebron itself was the scene of one of the worst massacres of Jews by Arabs in 1929 (that was 19 years before the State of Israel).  
  • None of those massacres was ever used as the basis for a play, let alone a play to criticise Muslims or Arabs. Yet the one and only terrorist act committed by a Jew in Israel in recent decades merits a play.  And it is not just this play. Of all the 'political' plays that have been staged in the UK in the last 5 years that are focused on criticism of a foreign country I would bet that at least 90% of them have been about Israel. This is despite the fact that, as recent events demonstrate, Israel is the only country in the Middle East which provides its citizens with freedom and democracy. When did you last see a play critical of: Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Morroco, Algeria (or any one of the world's 58 Muslim countries), not to mention the tyrannies that still exist in Eastern Europe, as well as China, Burma etc? 
  • Nobody is questioning the right of the playwrite to produce and say whatever they want, but we have every right to question why playwrites and theatre directors are ONLY interested in political plays that are anti-Israel. That should be the context for any debate about this play.
  • Given that Jews were effectively barred from the 'political' debate at the Saturday workshop, I am concerned at Joe's cowering acceptance that he had no right to raise any political objections to the play. How the hell do you discuss, for a political play like this,  "the play itself, its staging and the characters portrayed" without the political context?
  • I am concered at Joe's casual and quite offensive suggestion of moral equivalence between anti-Israel fanatics (whose greatest wish in life is to see the violent destruction of the State of Israel) and people who simply love Israel and don't feel the need to have to swallow all of the lies and proganda told against it.
  • I am concerned that pro-Israel supporters are giving this kind of play far more prominence and support than it deserves.  
Update on this post.

    16 comments:

    Daphne Anson said...

    A great post as usual, Edgar.
    Very important, and characteristically original and reflective on your part.
    I'm going to link to it.

    Anonymous said...

    The Richard Dimbleby Lecture was given by author *Michael* Morpugo. My daughter read one or two of his books, which are particularly black, i.e., he himself enjoys exposing children to war.

    Edgar Davidson said...

    Daphne - thanks for your kind words and the link.

    Melanie Phillips said...

    Salutary and sobering. I've posted a link here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/6719200/the-oldest-obsession.thtml

    Edgar Davidson said...

    Melanie

    Thanks for the link.

    Daphne Anson said...

    Oh, I just came on to tell you that the great Melanie Phillips has linked to you, Edgar - but of course I've been beaten to it!
    I love your blog - it is one of the very best.

    Edgar Davidson said...

    Daphne

    Thanks again for your kind words. I only wish I could blog more frequently.

    Anonymous said...

    He's some more propaganda... The 1948 war was actually an act of ethnic cleansing!

    Yitzchak Goodman said...

    I remember the news coverage of the Hebron massacre, and I remember Arabs telling reporters how stunned they were: "Jews just don't do that sort of thing." I wonder if the play depicted these sorts of reactions. Probably not.

    Hawkeye said...

    Edgar.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    The poison you describe in your post has penetrated our communal leaders that are too supine to fight back.

    http://cifwatch.com/2011/02/21/to-the-uk-jewish-community-the-time-to-act-against-the-guardian-is-now/

    Adam Levick said...

    Hi. I'm the managing editor of CiF Watch and would like to email you. Please contact me at adamlevick@cifwatch.com

    Marjorie Hazeldene said...

    And now the National Theatre gets in on the act: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/62809/productions/the-holy-rosenbergs.html

    Edgar Davidson said...

    Marjorie

    Thanks for that link.
    It really is relentless.

    Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

    very troubling indeed

    I suppose we're next

    TBS said...

    Edgar, can I assume that thi9s "terrorist act" is the baruch Goldstein killing of Muslims?

    Because, if so, you might like to note that the reason he killed those Muslims is becaseu he became aware that those same Muslims were planning to massacre the local Jews!

    In addition, i recommend the book The Rape of Palestine, 1938, William B Ziff.
    (available bookdepository.co.uk)
    It was banned by the British, and when you read it you'll understand why.
    Those Whitehall troglodytes might as well have joined Hitler's troops, so enthusiastic were they/are they about eliminating Jews and the Jewish connection to Israel.

    Edgar Davidson said...

    TBS

    Yes the play is about the Goldstein massacre. Thanks for the references.