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“Seven Jewish Children,” an incitement to hatred

This is a guest post by Brian Henry

Jew-haters delight in Jews admitting to their crimes, and with confessions in short supply, antisemites invent them. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one such invention. Supposedly written by Jews, though actually concocted by the Czarist secret police in about 1895, the Protocols outlines a Jewish plot for world domination. It’s the stuff of comic books but was Hitler’s guiding text.

“Seven Jewish Children,” a ten-minute play by Caryl Churchill, follows in the tradition of the Protocols. The play pretends to show Jews discussing what to tell their children at seven points in modern Jewish history, beginning with the Holocaust and ending with the recent conflict in Gaza.

Using this set-up, Churchill has her Jews confess to the worst lies of the Israel-haters. But Churchill goes a step further than usual: her play drops the standard “anti-Zionist” fig leaf and explicitly targets Jews.

Churchill’s Jews trade on the Holocaust: “Tell her we’re the ones to be sorry for,” they say. “Tell her they [the Palestinians] can’t talk suffering to us.”
Churchill’s Jews confess to having become Nazis: “Tell her we’re the iron fist now.”

The world hates Churchill’s Jews, but they’re defiant and declare themselves superior: “Tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people,”

Churchill’s Jews are genocidal and racist and revel in killing Palestinians: “Tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they’re animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out.”

Churchill’s Jews are child killers: “Tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names, why not tell her, the whole world knows why shouldn’t she know? Tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies?”

In short, like the Protocols, “Seven Jewish Children” has all the sophistication of a bad comic book. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the play less dangerous. Performed in respectable venues, the play may help make supposed crimes of the Jews a subject for legitimate debate.

Also, there’s an audience that’s hungry to hear nasty things about the Jews, especially among the chattering classes in Britain. It’s no surprise the play was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England.

For its part, Britain’s Guardian newspaper considers Churchill’s propaganda so important that they commissioned their own production and made it available on-line.

The Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington praised the play, stating that Churchill: “Shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the ‘otherness’ of Palestinians.”

In fact, Jewish children aren’t “bred” for anything. Nor are they taught to be racists, as Billington and Churchill suggest – not in my house, nor in other Jewish homes in Canada, Israel or elsewhere. And, for the record, we don’t kill babies, either.

The play had its Canadian premiere on May 3 at the Espace Geordie in Montreal. It was directed by Rose Plotek, who teaches drama at York University’s Glendon College, and was sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices Montreal.

Independent Jewish Voices labels itself a group for Jews opposed to Israeli policies. More accurately, it’s a group for Jews who have converted to the orthodoxy of the far Left.

With so many Jews associated with it, the Montreal production is reminiscent of medieval times when Jewish converts to Christianity would make a career of slandering their former co-religionists.

I wish this play had sunk into the obscurity it deserves. Unfortunately, its extremism has insured that “Seven Jewish Children” has been widely noticed.

The National Post devoted a front-page story to the controversy over the play.

On the Radio Canada website, the CBC promoted the play with a short puff piece headlined: “Une pièce pour les enfants de Gaza.”

In English, the CBC devoted the first hour of “The Sunday Edition” to the play. Michael Enright, the show’s host, interviewed Howard Jacobson, an English novelist and one of the play’s most articulate critics. 

Enright also interviewed Abby Lippman of the IJV and put some sharp questions to her. Unfortunately, the program began by broadcasting a reading of the play – all 10 antisemitic minutes.

“Seven Jewish Children” will make its Toronto debut at Theatre Passe Muraille, where I’ve seen many plays. I won’t be going there any more.

Brian Henry is a Toronto writer and editor. He’s refugee from Canada’s social democratic party, the NDP, and a frequent contributor to H-Antisemitism, a scholarly forum for the discussion of the history of antisemitism.