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Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children By: Kenneth Levin
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, March 30, 2009


"... [T]he Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: 'The hour of judgment will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones and each tree and stone will say: "Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him..."’"

So declares the charter of the Palestinian organization Hamas, now ruling Gaza. Nor is this genocidal agenda limited to a statement in Hamas’s founding document. It is taught in Hamas-controlled schools, preached in its mosques, and promoted in Hamas media, including children’s television.

The same incitement to genocide is purveyed in the schools, mosques and media of the PLO, or Palestinian Authority. In addition, both Hamas and elements of the PA, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, aggressively seek to translate their murderous agenda into action, attacking Israelis with rockets, mortar barrages and suicide bombings and particularly targeting children.

Successful terror operations against Israeli civilians are celebrated by both PA and Hamas operatives by the handing out of sweets to Palestinian children and adults, reinforcing the message of what actions Palestinians ought most to emulate and delight in.

Yet in the United Kingdom, it has become popular in various circles to stand this reality on its head: to ignore the incitement to genocide and excuse the terror that it inspires, and even to claim falsely that it is, rather, the Israelis who seek to dehumanize the Palestinians and delight in their slaughter.

Thus in Caryl Churchill’s play, Seven Jewish Children, the Jews of Israel are murderous interlopers who are sensitive only to their own pain and feel justified in coldly visiting pain on their Arab neighbors. One character declares:

"... [T]ell her [that is, tell the Jewish child] they're animals living in rubble now, 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."

Are there some Israelis, or non-Israeli Jews, who feel this level of hatred? No doubt. Churchill’s Big Lie is the implicit claim that this is commonplace among Israelis or other Jews, when in reality every major organ of Israeli and Jewish society, including Israel’s political parties, consistently condemns such hatred, while every major organ of Palestinian society explicitly promotes it.

What inspires Churchill and those like-minded in the UK to this inversion of reality? Obviously, it’s difficult to plumb from a distance the psychological warp of any particular individual. What can be said is that such views have a pedigree in Britain.

George Eliot, writing largely of her fellow countrymen, observed in an 1878 essay, "It would be difficult to find a form of bad reasoning about [the Jews] which has not been heard in conversation or been admitted to the dignity of print."

Even Churchill’s silence on and apparent indifference to the genocidal agenda of the Palestinian leadership and its effort to translate that agenda into action has entrenched precedent in Britain. There have long been circles who have had such a distaste for the Jews as to be impervious to efforts to exterminate them and, indeed, have regarded such efforts as having attractive pragmatic advantages. For example, a spring, 1943, Foreign Office memo to the State Department urging rejection of any efforts to save European Jews, declared - expressing sentiments conveyed in other communications as well - "There is a possibility that the Germans or their satellites may change over from the policy of extermination to one of extrusion, and aim as they did before the war at embarrassing other countries by flooding them with alien immigrants."

Anti-Jewish bias of murderous dimensions was so rife that Winston Churchill was prompted during the war, as well as at other times, to warn against what he described as "the usual anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic channel." In response to such concerns, Churchill was attacked for being, in the words of one colleague, "too fond of Jews."

Given this tradition, it is perhaps not surprising that promotion and pursuit of the extermination of the Jews by Palestinian groups hardly merits comment in Britain. Rarely is it noted, for example, by the BBC or the most respected British print media or other outlets of what constitutes the UK’s chattering classes. That silence, like Caryl Churchill’s, to Hamas’s program, and to the similar agenda of competing major Palestinian parties, extends also to their explicit declarations that their determination to kill the Jews is unrelated to borders or "settlements" but is a response rather to the Jews’ temerity in claiming rights of national self-determination routinely accorded other peoples and doing so in land Palestinians regard as properly the exclusive preserve of Muslims. The absence of this reality from British commentary on Israel and the Palestinians can only be construed as reflecting widespread perception of the latter's murderous agenda as not particularly noteworthy or troubling. Moral outrage is reserved, instead, for Israeli attempts to defend themselves from the genocidal assaults of their neighbors.

Reflective of this bias was the response in Britain to the terror war launched by Yasser Arafat against Israel in 2000. As Israelis were being killed by the score each month in suicide bombings, roadside shootings and other terror attacks, media coverage in Britain tended to portray the slaughter as nothing worthy of exceptional attention. In April, 2002, however, the Israelis finally launched a ground offensive in response to the terror assault - after 133 people had been killed in anti-Israel attacks the previous month. Israel invaded the terrorist safe-haven in the center of Jenin, an operation that, according to a UN investigation and reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, resulted in about 23 Israelis and 52 Palestinians killed, the latter mostly armed combatants even as the terror groups used civilians as human shields. The Israeli operation was almost universally decried in Britain as the "Jenin massacre," and Israel condemned in the most lurid of purple prose:
"We are talking here of massacre, and a cover-up, of genocide," feverishly exclaimed A.N. Wilson in London’s Evening Standard. (He also accused Israel of "the poisoning of water supplies," perhaps throwing this in because the other accusations didn’t satisfy his appetite for traditional anti-Jewish libels.)

"Rarely in more than a decade of war reporting from Bosnia, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, have I seen such deliberate destruction, such disrespect for human life," emoted Janine di Giovanni, the London Times correspondent in Jenin.

"Every bit as repellent" as Osama Bin Laden’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was the measured assessment of the Guardian in a lead editorial.

Similarly, Hamas’s incessant rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli communities in the three years since Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza, attacks undertaken with the exclusive aim of killing civilians and forcing survivors to flee the area for safety, received minimal coverage in British media. Instead Israel was condemned for not being sufficiently forthcoming in allowing supplies to this government bent on its annihilation. It was also falsely charged with withholding essential food and medical supplies from Gaza. In fact, there has never been a shortage of either, except to the extent that Hamas has commandeered provisions and either offered international contributions for sale to Gazans or diverted them to the organization’s own use.

And, of course, when Israel sought to end Hamas’s attacks by an air and ground offensive this past December, there was little in British reporting about the precipitating Hamas assaults or Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields. And there were few truthful accounts of the number of Hamas fighters and civilians killed or factual assessments of damage to buildings not part of Hamas’s infrastructure or not used as launching pads for Hamas attacks.

Instead, there was the familiar shoddy, biased reporting of the "Jenin massacre" ilk, and there is Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children, to satisfy what for many in Britain is an apparently insatiable thirst for anti-Jewish libels and indifference to the targeting of Jews.

Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege (Smith and Kraus, 2005; paperback 2006).


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