Is it counterproductive to say that the boycott would be an antisemitic policy?

Seven Muslim Children

Letter in the Irish Times:

Madam, – I’m going to write a short play, and the title will be “Seven Muslim Children”. It’s going to be a “10-minute history of Islam” and will consist of a series of short dialogues in which Muslim parents, teachers and clerics teach their children to hate. They teach them to hate the West, to hate Jews, to hate globalisation, to hate democracy, to hate everything except Islam. No entrance fee will be charged, but viewers should make a donation to a charity for children orphaned by 9/11.

I wonder if the Abbey would be interested in staging it. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Radio 4 and Seven Jewish Children – David Hirsh

Howard Jacobson describes Seven Jewish Children as an antisemitic work:

“Caryl Churchill will argue that her play is about Israelis not Jews, but once you venture on to “chosen people” territory – feeding all the ancient prejudice against that miscomprehended phrase – once you repeat in another form the medieval blood-libel of Jews rejoicing in the murder of little children, you have crossed over. This is the old stuff. Jew-hating pure and simple – Jew-hating which the haters don’t even recognise in themselves, so acculturated is it – the Jew-hating which many of us have always suspected was the only explanation for the disgust that contorts and disfigures faces when the mere word Israel crops up in conversation. So for that we are grateful. At last that mystery is solved and that lie finally nailed. No, you don’t have to be an anti-Semite to criticise Israel. It just so happens that you are.”

He re-states this view when Jacqueline Rose and Churchill herself defend the play. If Jacobson is right then it follows that the play has no artistic or political value.

BBC Radio 4 has decided not to stage the play. Radio 4’s drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe, rejected the play, writing in an email:

“It is a no, I am afraid. Both Mark [Damazer, Radio 4 controller] and I think it is a brilliant piece, but after discussing it with editorial policy we have decided we cannot run with it on the grounds of impartiality – I think it would be nearly impossible to run a drama that counters Caryl Churchill’s view. Having debated long and hard we have decided we can’t do Seven Jewish Children.”

They have made the wrong decision. If it is a “brilliant piece” of course it should be broadcast. If it is a “brilliant piece” how could it be “countered”? Brilliant theatre does not require something else to be broadcast another night in order to balance it.

Why would Radio 4 not broadcast a “brilliant piece”? The official BBC statement says that “we felt it would not work for our audience.” Why not?

The implication, of course, is that The Jews will not allow the BBC to broadcast this “brilliant piece”.

Tell them its antisemitic. Tell them its unbalanced. Tell them the BBC is biased.

If the piece is antisemitic then its crap. And it shouldn’t be broadcast.

If the piece is “brilliant” then it should be broadcast, and the BBC should stand up to the full wrath of “Israel Lobby” – or as the Independent would say, the “Jewish Lobby“.

David Hirsh