Donate

British Theater Has an Enemy, and Its Name Is Israel

Sept. 1 2017

On the eve of Yom Kippur, the 2005 play My Name Is Rachel Corrie will return to the London stage. The play, which amounts to little more than crass anti-Israel propaganda, is based on the story of its title character, who died after throwing herself in front of an IDF bulldozer at the behest of the International Solidarity Movement, an organization dedicated to providing cover for Hamas. David Herman sees a pattern “of anti-Israel bias in British theater.”

Over the past twenty years there have been a number of plays attacking Israel: My Name Is Rachel Corrie, Alive from Palestine: Stories under the Occupation, David Hare’s Via Dolorosa, and Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza. In 2014 the Tricycle Theater refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it received funding from the Israeli embassy. The Tricycle was supported by Nicholas Hytner, then director of the National Theater. In addition, [the playwright] Harold Pinter, [the producer] Michael Kustow, and [the playwright] Arnold Wesker all became vocal critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Along with Churchill and Hare, these were major figures in British theater. . . .

At Edinburgh this summer, Jackie Walker, a left-wing activist suspended from the Labor party over accusations of anti-Semitism, had a one-woman show, The Lynching, which included predictable attacks on Israel. A banner draped in front of the audience read: “Anti-Semitism is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty.”

Another play on the subject—Oslo—is also coming to London. Although this play is hardly distinguished for its sympathy to Israel or its sensitivity to the realities of the conflict, Herman notes that “it is inconceivable that it would have been commissioned by a British theater or written by a well-known British playwright,” as its (pro-forma) attempts at evenhandedness make it a far cry from the “shrill agitprop” preferred by the British stage.

Read more at Standpoint

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Israel & Zionism, Theater, United Kingdom

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy