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 | www.jstreet.org

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.

17 Responses to “J Street thinks that 7 Jewish Children sparks valuable debate”

  1. Susan Says:

    I went to J Street’s web site and I could not find this post. Would you please provide a direct link?

  2. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Some people are so open-minded, their brains fall out. I hear ‘Seven Other Children’ opens at New End Theatre, London on May 5-16, Tuesdays-Saturdays, at 9.50pm. It lasts 10 minutes. Theater J of course will not refuse to show it, of course, being so open-minded. If they do, then of course J-Street will condemn them – as it will condemn any theatre which has shown 7JC but refuses to show 7OC – of course – and as it will condemn any theatre that refuses to show both the plays alongside each other – of course it will, how could we doubt that?

  3. Jacob Says:

    I posted the following reply in the J Street web site:

    “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.”

    This is an insane idea. It’s like saying that the racist content of a work is not important because it will lead to debate.

    Let’s republish then “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as well as “Mein Kampf.” Surely they too will spark debate.

    Secondly, my fellow J people, do we really this modern day Prioress tale to spark debate. Hasn’t there been a debate all along?

    Antisemitic propaganda plays will not spark debate it will make most people angry and some people self righteous.

    Finally, most people are not as sophisticated as you think. Some of them will even use the play as an excuse for their own private hatreds to keep on hating.

    You have taken the wrong approach with this decalaration.

  4. EdwardT Says:

    “Seven Jewish Children” : Hamas version on Palestinian TV

  5. Susan Says:

    This is from the Washington Post’s review of the play:

    “Because Churchill is such a compelling dramatist — she’s the author of, among other plays, “Top Girls,” “Cloud Nine,” “A Number” and “Far Away” — the presentation is literarily seductive. Ultimately, though, it’s so reductive that it can be consigned to the category of beautifully crafted cheap shot, an effort to cast a multifaceted conflict as intractably one-sided. “

  6. J-Street, Seven Jewish Children, climate change, informational bias and manufactured controversy « Greens Engage Says:

    […] a comment » On Engage, David Hirsh flags up J-Street’s whole-hearted endorsement of Caryl Churchill’s play ‘Seven Jewish […]

  7. zkharya Says:

    I posted Howard Jacobson’s article on the J Street thread. It wasn’t published.

  8. zkharya Says:

    It has been now.

  9. N. Friedman Says:

    What is the difficult but necessary conversation that needs to occur within “our” community?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “the difficult but necessary conversation that needs to occur within “our” community?” is the one where we agree with, inter alia, Anthony Lerman, the J Street mob, JfJfP, IJV, BIGOt, Just peace, etc, etc, ad nauseam, that it’s all our fault that antisemitism is rising because we persist in judging Israel by the same standards that we judge all other states. Unlike those who wish to boycott, etc, Israel and only Israel.

  10. zkharya Says:

    All Jstreet had to say was nothing. If they had not yet judged the play’s content, why mention it? It was a bizarre thing to do. And if they had not definitively judged the play was not antisemitic, why welcome it as contributing to debate? Truly this was a bizarre thing to do.

  11. Hal Says:

    Here’s another play that might fit J Street’s efforts at dialogue:

    http://mickhartley.typepad.com/blog/2009/04/gaza-theatre.html

  12. zkharya Says:

    I was wrong, they didn’t publish my posting of Howard Jacobson’s review. But they did post Mark Elf’s (Levi999) posting of Caryl Churchill’s defence. That is weird.

  13. zkharya Says:

    I just realised David’s link is to Theatre J, not J-Street. Clearly they don’t want any negative publicity on their “discussion” forum.

  14. Israeli Jews – American Jews – Dissent in Our ? Camp | IsraelSeen.com Says:

    […] be apparent they cannot be called “pro-Jewish” let alone pro-Israel, beginning with their enthusiastic endorsement of the anti-Semitic play, “Seven Jewish Children.” If Rabbi Jacobs remains on their board of […]


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