The Livingstone Formulation in Madrid

J Street thinks that 7 Jewish Children sparks valuable debate

J Street, which aims to be a pro-peace alternative to American Israel advocacy groups, has said that it “stands unequivocally behind” the decision of a Washington DC theatre group to produce the play.  But J Street says that it “takes no position” on the content of the play.  It would appear then that it has taken a position, at least insofar as to affirm its belief that the play is not antisemitic.  That is if we assume that J Street does not think that the production of an antisemitic play would have value in sparking debate.  The whole statement is as follows:

The decision to feature Seven Jewish Children at Theater J should be judged not on the basis of the play’s content but, rather, on its value in sparking a difficult but necessary conversation within our community. To preclude even the possibility of such a discussion does a disservice not only to public discourse, but also to the very values of rigorous intellectual engagement and civil debate on which our community prides itself.

J Street takes no position on the content of Seven Jewish Children – it is, after all, a play, and not policy. We do, however, stand unequivocally behind Theater J in its decision to feature programming that examines different facets of this critical debate over how our community can best support Israel. Such an opportunity for individual and collective reflection is integral in informing our shared interest in bringing true peace and security to Israel.

Amy Spitalnick
J Street |

Howard Jacobson and many others have judged that the play is antisemitic because it accuses Jews of bringing up their children in a particularly neurotic, dishonest and damaging way.  That would be an antisemitic accusation, wouldn’ t it?

Is J Street under an obligation to take that kind of criticism seriously?  If the play is antisemitic  J Street has a duty to say why and how, and to critique and to deconstruct the antisemitism, doesn’t it?  It has  a duty to defend American theatre against antisemitism, doesn’t it?

In reality J Street has taken a position that the play is not antisemitic but, on the contrary, that it is fair comment and it is part of a legitimate debate.  J Street has a duty to make that case rather than simply assert it to be true.