Jostein Gaarder defends his rant against the idea of the “chosen people”

Sarah Annes Brown’s lecture notes on Seven Jewish Children

I found the fierce discussions which Seven Jewish Children inspired when it was first produced extremely interesting, and suggested giving a seminar on the play as part of a postgraduate course on modern and postmodern literature. I did wonder whether that was wise, given its controversial subject matter, but in practice the classes seemed to go smoothly, without causing offence, and we’’ve had some very good discussions, particularly focusing on the distribution of lines in the play. Engage has offered to post a link to my lecture notes on the play. I’’ve never given the lecture in its full form, but have used the material here to shape the discussion. Some Engage regulars get a mention and you can view the PDF HERE.

Sarah Annes Brown, Professor of English Literature, Anglia Ruskin University.

On some of the more serious pro-boycott appeals

At Though Cowards Flinch, Carl Packman reviews the most recent LSE debate on boycotting Israel and explains why he was unconvinced by the motion.

Lincoln’s blood libel and Seven Jewish Children

Dave Rich at the CST.

In February 2009, the playwright Caryl Churchill wrote a short play, called Seven Jewish Children, as her “response to the situation in Gaza” the previous month. The play is explicitly about Jewish parents and children (Jews are mentioned in the title and the text, whereas the word “Israeli” does not appear once in the play); but in attempting to explore Jewish attitudes towards children, both Jewish and Palestinian, Churchill achieved little more than to reflect the febrile atmosphere of the time, in which antisemitic incidents in this country reached an all-time high and public demonstrations against Israel regularly became violent.

If Churchill’s play was her response to events in Gaza, she was not the only writer to be so inspired: Howard Jacobson wrote his Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Finkler Question, in part as a response to the response to Gaza. While the period of the Gaza conflict has now passed and tempers cooled somewhat, Seven Jewish Children is still regularly put on by pro-Palestinian groups, refuelling their activism and providing a literary basis for their ongoing anti-Israel politics. One of the most eye-catching locations for an upcoming production of the play is Lincoln, the location of one of the most notorious episodes in English antisemitism; an episode which provided one of the earliest works in the canon of English literary antisemitism.

According to the website of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Seven Jewish Children will be performed in Lincoln on 11th April, at the University of Lincoln’s Performing Arts Centre. Not only is the University providing the venue: according to PSC, the play is organised by the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts and School of Humanities. The play is not advertised on the website of the Performing Arts Centre, but it may be connected to a symposium on Caryl Churchill’s work being held at the University five days later. Read the rest of this entry »

Macy Gray’s consultation

Macy Gray asked her Facebook followers whether she should perform in Israel.

Ynet reports the backlash against her decision, which seems to have opened her eyes to the nature of the boycott campaign.

Call for Papers – ESA Network on Ethnic Relations, Racism And Antisemitism – Geneva Sep 2011

Research Network 31, for the study of Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism, is a network of the European Sociological Association.

The network has met every two years at the major conferences of the ESA.  It emerged in 2005 in Torun, it met in 2007 in Glasgow and in 2009 in Lisbon.  It has also had successful independent mid term conferences in 2008 in Paris and in 2010 in Belfast.

The network is based within sociology but happily includes scholars from other disciplines.  The network has a European focus but its concerns and its participants are also global.

The network is a safe antiracist space for scholars to study antisemitism, racism, and ethnic relations alongside each other in a supportive and intellectual environment.  It has also focused in particular on thinking about the relationships between these different forms of exclusion, bigotry or prejudice.

Abstracts can be submitted now for the meeting in Geneva from 7-10 September 2011.  The deadline for abstract submission is February 25.

The General call for papers is here on the ESA website.

The particular call for papers for the network on Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism is here on the ESA website.

Please share this call with colleagues of yours who might be interested in contributing.

Please come.

RN co-ordinators: Veronique Altglas ,  Robert Fine and David Hirsh

America is Israel’s Slave?

How to put people off talking to you

On Andrew Collins’ blog, a story of internet commenters and their obsessions.

“This House Believes in an Academic Boycott of Israel” LSE Thurday 13 Jan

For:  Dr. John Chalcraft

Arguing in favour of the motion will be Dr. Chalcraft, who having studied at Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford, gained a doctorate with distinction in the modern history of the Middle East in 2001. He is currently a reader in the History and Politics of Empire/Imperialism in the Department of Government at the LSE.

Against: Prof. Daniel Hochhauser

Arguing against the motion will be Professor Hochhauser, who is Kathleen Ferrier Professor of Medical Oncology at UCL. He is a consultant medical oncologist at UCLH specialising in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer.

For tickets email by 6pm tomorrow (12th January)

Do go along and give Daniel, and the anti-boycotters at LSE some support.

A joint event hosted by the LSESU Israel Society and LSESU Palestine

6 pm – 7.30 pm
Thursday 13th January 2011
Old building, Old Theatre, LSE

debate poster