British Theater Has an Enemy, and Its Name Is Israel

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

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship