Friday, December 10, 2010

Polish Embassy Anti-Semitism Blindspot

A scene from Seven Jewish Children as
performed at the Lebanese American University
PSC play at Polish Centre sparks angry demo | The Jewish Chronicle

The Polish Centre in London went ahead and allowed itself to be the venue for anti-Semitism masquerading as art on December 8th, the last night of Hanukkah. Thinking I would be making a difference among many other emailing objectors to the performance of Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children, I wrote to the Polish Ambassador to the UK and received the following response from the embassy's press counselor.Note the link he included to back up his spurious implication that because the play was written in response to the Gaza operation, it should be "considered only anti-Israeli policies" and not as an instance of anti-Semitism.

Dear Madam
I’d like to thank you for bringing it to our attention. With reference to your letter, I would like to inform you that the Polish Social and Cultural Association Ltd. was founded by and has since been run by the Polish community in the United Kingdom and is completely autonomous of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London. The Embassy has therefore no right of intervention in internal decisions made by the Centre with regards to the production of Seven Jewish Children.

Nevertheless, I would like to point that Caryl Churchill's play relates to the political context of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and, in light of this, its content can be considered critical towards Israeli policies. The play has been staged at the Royal Court Theatre, but definately it is controversial (please read eg. "The Guardian")

Kind regards
Robert Szaniawski
Press Counsellor
Embassy of the Republic of Poland

My email:

Your Excellency,

I am an Israeli-American of Polish-Jewish grandparents who has learned from my friends in London that Caryl Churchill's 'play' will be performed at the Polish Centre in London on December 8th, ironically during Hanukkah. I am writing to protest the Centre's providing a venue for this anti-Semitic diatribe. That a Polish institution would give cover to this play is a shame and a mistake. I urge you to request that the Centre reconsider it's decision.

Here is a sample of the dialogue in the play. I would be surprised if it made you comfortable and that you did not immediately perceive the age-old anti-Semitic tropes invoked:

"Tell her, tell her about the army, 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? Tell her she’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I’m not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we’re the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can’t talk suffering to us. Tell her we’re the iron fist now, tell her it’s the fog of war, tell her we won’t stop killing them till we’re safe, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policeman, tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people, 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."

I look forward to your response, but more so, to hear that you have persuaded the Polish Centre not to allow itself to be used in this shameful manner.

1 comment:

  1. " its content can be considered critical towards Israeli policies."

    Then why wasn't the play titled "Seven Israeli Children"?



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