February 19, 2009
Caryl Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children: a play for Gaza”
Controversy has been brewing surrounding Caryl Churchill’s play “Seven Jewish Children: a play for Gaza.” A blog on the New York Times, The lede, has done us all the tremendous favor of actually posting a link to the full text of the play. Read it Here.
Many have asked: Is it Anti-Semitic? That strikes me as the wrong question and the wrong term. What it is is a prose poem — tendentious, misinformed, simplistic, full of misleading assumptions all gathered in an attempt to make a point, which is in itself a judgment of a whole people (Jews) and a whole nation (Israelis) as if that were possible (I could imagine a version of this play called “seven American children” which would be equally tendentious).
I understand Churchill’s desire to put her art in service of what she sees as a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But perhaps a trip to Israel and Gaza first would have yielded a play that was less fanciful but more actual. And would have succeeded better in achieving her goal or in raising funds for humanitarian assistance to Gaza. (putting aside the whole question of what actually goes to the Gazans and what remains in the bank accounts of the relief organizations, and local leaders — but that’s another story) — Perhaps it would have made no difference and this is what Churchill has to say on the subject.
But read the play, you decide.