Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nothing But Trouble: Philistinism in the UK, Part II

Over at the Clyde Fitch Report, part II of my post-mortem on the on the attempt of British anti-Israeli activists to prevent the Israeli State Theatre, Habima, from performing at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London as part of the 37 play Globe to Globe Festival:

Given the Globe’s steadfastness that that it would not bow to any cultural boycott, the March 29th letter was doomed to have little effect; only gaining headlines due to the celebrity status of many of the signatories: film star Emma Thompson’s name appeared in much of the subsequent news coverage, as did that of Mark Rylance, who was former artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe. It was little surprise to see the name of playwright Caryl Churchill, whose Seven Jewish Children has been widely criticized as anti-Semitic by such figures as Booker Award winning novelist, Howard Jacobson, attorney and literary scholar Anthony Julius and others due to its invocation of the blood libel, gross distortion of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and crude ethnic stereotypes of Jews. (Notably, The Guardian, which makes Seven Jewish Children available on its website has published numerous apologiae effectively making the paper the play’s corporate sponsor.)

With the March 29th letter, the story had gone from activists attempting to silence artists not because of the content of the work but for their identity, to that of artists attempting to silence other artists due to their identity: a particularly dangerous position for artists to take. Once an artist advocates the boycotting of another artist’s work because of their nation of origin or for taking a gig in a specific theatre, they have both given sanction to hooliganism seen on May 28th and 29th and sanction similar retaliation towards their own work.

Read more at the Clyde Fitch Report!

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