Israel/Palestine

An Israeli parent responds to “Seven Jewish Children”

Occasionally we get a comment that’s too good to remain simply another comment which many of our readers might miss. Such is the case of this eloquent and heartfelt critique of Caryl Churchill’s play “Seven Jewish Children” from Israelinurse— the kind of comment one hopes will impel at least a few people to rethink their reflexive attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What really annoys me about the Caryl Churchill play is this.

I’m an Israeli parent -which is who, in fact, the play is criticising. I have raised 5 children in Israel, which is no easy task, over and above the normal difficulties of parenting. Like the majority of Israeli parents I have wrestled with the dilemma of how to raise happy, balanced children in an environment with so many instances of violence and fear.

One has to cope with the fears of a child whose father and/or brother has gone to war. One has to cope with the anxieties of children forced to wear a gas mask for hours at a time for weeks on end and forbidden to leave the house. One has to cope with the nightmares resulting from seemingly unending terror attacks. One has to decide on a balance between the freedoms a teenager demands and the obvious dangers. One has to comfort teenagers who have buried friends.

But all the while, from their infancy one tries not to opt for the easiest route. So one buys children’s books promoting Arab-Israeli co-existance. One takes them to play with the children of Arab friends. One encourages them to study hard in Arabic lessons in school. One discusses current affairs and politics taking care to present the other point of view. When they go to the army one makes sure that they discuss their difficulties and moral dilemmas over a shabbat meal.

And then along comes Caryl Churchill and makes a complete stereotypical lie out of all those years of parenting and all those sleepless nights of dilemma.

I can only hope that somehow, Caryl Churchill will read these words– among the many others who need to.

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